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D’var Torah: Yom Ha’atzmaut

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Celebrating 70 Years – the Chief Rabbi’s 3 minute message for Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Israel has been rejected by so many people. Yet, as we celebrate 70 glorious years since the establishment of the State, we are mindful of the verse in the Hallel, Psalm 118, which declares, “Even ma’asu Habonim, haita le rosh pina” – “the stone that has been rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.”

Although some of the builders of our global society have rejected her, Israel has become a veritable cornerstone of life on this planet. She is a remarkable resource of spirituality, made immense contributions to the fields of science, medicine, agriculture, information technology, and many others.

So this is a time to express our gratitude to the Almighty, which is exactly what we do in the verse beforehand in the Hallel, “Odecha ki anitani vatihi li, li’shua” – “I give thanks to you Hashem because you have answered my prayers, and you have been a salvation for me.”

Even though we are mindful of the miracles which Hashem has performed for the sake of our nation, we express our gratitude in the singular.

The reason is that in Jewish tradition we always try our best to express gratitude for ourselves.

I should be the one to pick up the phone to say thank you. I should write that letter. I should never have a Shaliach – a messenger, to perform the task of expressing thanks on my behalf. That is why in the repetition of the Amida during our prayer services, the Chazan recites all the blessings and we respond “Amen”, except for one. When it comes to Modim – giving thanks to God, I need to recite it myself.

And therefore in the Hallel I say “Odecha” – thank you Hashem, the blessings you have performed for our nation are blessings for me, for my family, for my community – indeed, for everyone.

We then go on to say “Me’eit Hashem hay’tah zot hiy nif’lat b’eyneynu”“this has come from Hashem, it is wondrous in our eyes.”

The fact that close to 2000 years after the exile of our people we were able miraculously to return to our country – and for 70 years since the establishment of the State, we were able to prevail against the odds.

We give thanks to Hashem for these continuous miracles, and as we celebrate this very special Yom Ha’atzmaut, we enthusiastically declare, “Zeh hayom asah Hashem nagilah venismecha vo”“this is the day that Hashem has made, we will be glad and rejoice thereon.”

As we reflect on all the blessings that the Almighty has brought to the State of Israel throughout the past 70 years, we pray that well into the future Israel will be blessed with peace, security, happiness and success in all of her endeavours.

I wish you Chag Ha’atzmaut Sameach.