Tonight we have made the transition מאבל ליום טוב, from mourning to celebration. From Yom haZikaron for our fallen soldiers to Yom HaAtzmaut number 64, ס"ד, the Siyata DiShmaya that is the State of Israel.
Once, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l was offered a trip to Kivrei Tzaddikim in the north of Israel. He ssaid that the trip is unnecessary, as every day on his way from his home in Shaarei Hessed to his Yeshiva in Bayit Vegan, he passed Har Herzl (military cemetery), where The Tzaddikim are buried, those who gave their lives for Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael.
This is how I felt today, at the military section of the Beit Shemesh cemetery, by the graves of soldiers who were from our city, who gave their lives. תהיו נשמתם צרורה בצרור החיים.
מאבל ליום טוב.
Tonight is Yom HaAtzmaut. This date is already mentioned in the tradition of the GR"A (מדרש שלמה פרק ט"ו, לר' שלמה זלמן ריבלין): There are two dates in Sefirat HaOmer that evil cannot rule, the 20th day (5 Iyar, Yom HaAtzmaut) and the 42nd day (27 Iyar, the day beforeYerushalaim was redeemed in the Six Day War, a day of great miracles). (Note: This year we mark Yom HaAtzmaut early in order to avoid any hillul Shabbat.) For this reason, exactly two hundred years ago, in the year 5572, the students of the GR"A established Beit Midrash Midrash Eliyahu in Yerushalaim.
Not only is the DATE of the Stablishment of the State of Israel a date with "segula", but also the YEAR, 5708, as the GR"A wrote in his Peirush L'Sifra D'Tzniuta (perek 5), that the time of the Geula is hinted inteh description ofht ecreationofman in Bereishit. In Masechet Sanhedrin (daf 38, amud 1), there is an hour-by-hour schedule of the stages of the creation of man on the sixth day. "In the first hour, the dust was gathered; in the second hour, it was made into a rough shape; in the third hour, his limbs were extended; in the fourth hour, his soul was thrown in; in the fifth hour, he stood upon his feet; in the sixth hour, he gave names." Each day of creation is compared to a thousand years of our counting, the night portion being the first 500 years of the thousand. According to the GR"A, therefore, the sixth day's daylight hours start from the year 5500, and the fifth hour of the sixth day works out to the year 5702, the year in which, following the Holocaust, Am Yisrael stood upon its feet.
Just a week ago, we marked Yom haShoa, and I was reminded of how my father stood to read from the Torah as a Bar Mitzva in the year 5702 ('42) in Amsterdam, with aYellow Star on his Bar Mitzva suit. The Yellow Star was a Badge of Shame - a black magen David, empty but for the word Jew written in German or Dutch. Six weeks later, my father removed his Yellow Star as he and his parents and sister, dressed as Christian tourists, escaped the nazis. But today, we raise the Star of David - the Magen David that is entirely (Kulo) Techelet - as a Badge of Honour, onthe Israeli flag, raised high, with pride and glory. Fortunate is the Eye that sees this. And Yasher Koah to the Mayor of Beit Shemesh, who fulfilled his responsibility to fly the Flag of Israel along the roads of our city again this year.
It is known that a person who has been blessed with a miracle does not notice the gift he received. This year, we have been blessed with much rain - Gishmei Bracha - after years of relative drought, and we extend thanks to He Who blows the wind and brings down the rain.
In general, our generation has been blessed to witness many miracles. The miracle of the ingathering of exiles and the miracle off settling the Land which sat desolate for sommany centuries. Here inBeit Shemesh oen can hear in the streets Amharic, Russian, English, French, Yiddish and even Lashon haKodesh - Ivrit - a true ingathering of the exiles!! Regarding the miracle of settling the land the Talmud Yerushalmi (Masechet Ta'anit, perek 4, halacha 5), that in Beit Shemesh there were at least 200,000 residents at the time that the Aron HaBrit with the Torah that Moshe Rabbeinu wrote was brought to Beit Shemesh. That is twice our current population of 100,000 residents, and we are growing. Where does the Talmud get the number 200,000? It is learnt from the passuk (Shmuel I 6:19) "And HaShem struck 50,070 men", and Rabbi Yohanan explains that 50,000 were from one direction (wind) - from the south, the direction from which the Aron came, such that from all 4 directions (winds) there were 200,000 residents. And the 70 were the memebrs of teh Snahedrin who sat in Beit Shemesh (Talmud Yerushalmi, Masechet Sanhedrin 2:4) But after the destruction of the Second Beit haMikdash, all that remained was Tel Beit Shemesh (across from the monument for our fallen, near Yish'i). The Talmnud Yerushalmi says that what remained of Beit Shemesh was so small that it could not hold 50,000 reeds, never mind 200,000 people.
Today, as HaShem is returning us to Zion, 2,000 years after the destruction and 64 years after teh State of Israel came to be, Beit Shemesh ahss two winds : 100,000 residents and many homes inteh process of being built for all streams and Tribes of Israel: religious, hareidi, masorati, secular and neighbourhoods for all of Am Yisrael. And also for this miracle of the settling of the land, which could only be done under Jewish rule, we express our thanks and say Full Hallel tomorrow with joy and with a Beracha.
Yehi Ratzon, may it be HaShem's will that just as we have been fortunate to see the beginning of the Geula, we should merit seeing the complete Geula, speedily in our days.