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Monday, May 01, 2006

Mekadesh Yisrael VeYom HaZikaron

Harry posts today about the Charedi attitude toward Yom Hazikaron, Israel's memorial day for its fallen soldiers.

There are three points of criticism which Harry directs toward the Charedim:
a) Those who do not stop for the sirens.
b) A separate ceremony.
c) Emphasis of Charedi suicide victims.

Well, first things first. I believe that in virtually all of the mainstream Charedi Yeshivos, the students are told that if they are in public, they should stop, and perhaps silently recite a chapter of Tehillim or a Mishnah in the memory of the fallen. This is so as not to offend those who commemorate the fallen at this time.

In private, there is indeed a debate as to whether a moment of silence is an appropriate Jewish way to commemorate the fallen. We have no such concept in Judaism. No Yizkor service has a segment which is a moment of silence to remember those relatives who are no longer with us. Our commemoration is always attached to accomplishment - Tzedakah in their merit, learning, davening. Not silence.

I once heard a fantastic 'vort' in the name Rabbi Yaakov Krause in Los Angeles as to why we place stones on the Matzeva of a Kever we have visited. It is to show that the deceased accomplishments, as symbolized by his Matzevah, carry on vicariously, such as through his children or other people he has positively influenced. Just as we continue to 'construct' his Matzevah, we continue to add on to this person's accomplishments. So if we emphasize that the fallen soldier or terror victim has spurred us on to greater accomplishment, as we recognize their contribution, or the fragile nature of our own existence, that is the best conceivable memorial.

Which brings us to the second point.

(As an aside, the HaAretz article points out that the ceremony will be attended by "about 3,000 participants... mostly from the ultra-Orthodox and national religious communities. So the criticism as focused on the Charedi populace is unwarranted. )

It may be that there has been something of a paradigm shift in the thinking of the religious community in Israel, that there is no reason to follow the dictates of the seculars as to how to best commemorate Yom HaZikaron. Ultimately, it is our fervent wish that the public agenda be set by Shomrei Torah U'Mitzvos. So while the ceremony does not begin until half an hour after the siren, so as not to be hurtful, it is appropriate that the religious community show what an optimal Jewish memorial service is.

And if there are family members of Charedi victims of terror who feel that the government organized memorial services do not do justice to their loved ones, which may very well be the case, (how many of the slides depicting the fallen during these ceremonies display Charedi faces?) I do not think it is our place to criticize their need for a ceremony which gives them the respect they deserve.


It is important to show our Hakaras HaTov to those soldiers who gave up their lives to defend Jews. At the same time, it is commendable that there is a service which underscores that Hashem is Mekadesh Yisrael, and through our Kedushah, we instill "Kedushah", or more aptly, religious significance, into Yom HaZikaron.

2 Comments:

Blogger chardal said...

We have no such concept in Judaism

To be melamed zchus on them, maybe their souls were mekaven to Aaron's response to the death of his sons: "VaIdom Aaron"

I agree that we must create ceremonies that recast these days in the light of Torah and Emunah. The fallen soldiers are kedoshim because they fell al Kiddush Hashem, we must always emphasise that everything we do, personal or national, has to be for His kavod.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

Well, I'm sure we agree on alot more than we disagree on. That's why we argue so much - we're on the same playground, trying to play the same game bound by the same rules - the Torah.

8:56 AM  

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