Remembering to Remember

Daniel Friedman, Contributor

I haven’t written one of these in a while, and I find myself compelled to do so, so here I go.

We as a nation have recently remembered many important days. October 27th, 1978, both Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin were named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, after having brought peace between two nations.

November 2nd, 1917 the Balfour Deceleration was made, finally beginning the realization of over 2,000 years of dreaming, of Jewish, Zionist yearning to return to our homeland, the Land of Israel.

This upcoming Thursday November 4th will mark the 15 anniversary of the murder of Yitzchak Rabin z”l, according to the Gregorian Calendar. He was killed as he was walking away from singing “A Song for Peace.”

But where do these Memories bring us? What do we do with the feelings we have, feelings of pride, hope, love, yearning, pain, mourning? Do we let them pass by us, as we continue with our busy busy lives?

This isn’t about politics, so please don’t make it about politics.

We made peace with Egypt, but it took us over twenty years of fighting. Twenty years of blood shed, of loosing our sons and daughter, and being forced to kill another person’s son or daughter. As Golda Meir said it “We have had our victories, but they come at a great cost. We don’t want any more of those victories.”

And now we have a soldier, sitting alone in a cell. Hasn’t been seen by a single international organization. More importantly, he hasn’t seen or heard from his family. He hasn’t been home in 1588 days. The thought is unfathomable. Who knows the psychological impact his current condition will have on him? or his father and mother? Hamas released a tape which began “אני החייל גלעד בן אביבה שליט” “I am the soldier, Gilad the son of Aviva Shalit.” As we sit here, in freedom, enjoying our lives, working so hard, how can we forget him? Are we not also the soldier Gilad the son of Aviva Shalit? Are we not bound to remember that we as a people are united with unbreakable bonds of kinship and solidarity?

The Balfour Decleration was such a victory for our people. Finally, after literally thousands of years of exile and waiting we were allowed to return home. The verses of the prophets were fulfilled once more. Pslam 122, Verse 2 “Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.” We as a people are forever bound with this eternal city. Psalm 137, Verse 5 “If I forget thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget it’s dexterity.” On a fundamental level we cannot function in our day to day lives if we do not remember the city of Jerusalem. Have I forgotten you Jerusalem? Have we forgotten you?

Regardless of personal politics, we all as a people must remember the murder of Rabin as a terrible act of cruelty. One Jewish person murdered another in cold blood. The last time this occurred in our history, was on Rosh Hashanah, during the time of Roman control of Israel. Till this day we fast once a year, to commemorate and hopefully learn from the murder of Gedaliah Ben Achikam.

Rabin was shot on a Saturday night, a time when the Yeshivah of Merkaz Harav hosts a weekly class with the headmaster of the school. At the time it was Reb Avrum Shapira zt”l, the previous Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel. The School Merkaz Harav is known for being the flagship of Religious Zionism, and a group of people unwavering in their
commitment to Gd, His Torah, Our People, and Our Land.

Immediately following the news that Rabin was shot, a Rabbi in the school gave Reb Avrum zt”l a note in the middle of Reb Avrum’s zt”l lecture. All it said was “someone shot Rabin.” The Former Chief Rabbi closed the book, and called all the 400 students of the school into the sacntuary of the school, as they began to pray for Gd to spare Rabin’s life.

When we remember these days, and commemorate the people and accomplishments, I ask you what will you do to further those accomplishments? Is the hope for peace, which Rabin held so dear, dead? Or is it still a reality? Can we not have peace with our other neighbors? Is Abbas as courageous as Sadat was? Have we not learned the lesson of Gedaliah ben Achikam? To love our neighbor as ourselves. Have we forgotten Jerusalem in our journey through life? Have we forgotten that we too are named The Soldier, Gilad son of Aviva Shalit?

As we remember, celebrate and commemorate these days, we must ensure we never forget their messages.

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