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Israel Memorial Day

Do We Behave Like Our Fallen Soldiers Would Want Us To?

They must be looking down and asking: “Why did I give up my life, so you can continue to hate each other and bicker?”

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Sivan Rahav Meir has a strong post she quotes from Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi in honor of Israel Memorial Day.

We again come to the Torah portion of Acharei Mot Kedoshim these are the names of the Torah portions we read this week which also accompanies Israel Memorial Day. The words literally mean ‘after the death of the martyrs’. “Indeed how do we behave after the death of the martyrs?” asks Sivan Rahav Meir.

Two years ago on the night before Israel Memorial Day I went to hear Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi in Tel Aviv. The hall was full so there was a video monitor screen in another room. These were her words:

“It’s not for naught that Memorial Day and Independence Day fall out on the weeks we read Acharei Mot and Kedoshim. What is Acharei Mot, after the death, what does the Torah ask us to do after someone’s death? To live! To strengthen your life.  And how do you do that? It’s no coincidence that these days fall out on the portions with the word “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”.

“The holy souls of the martyrs look down at us from heaven and ask: “For what purpose was our sacrifice if down there they still argue about foolish things? They still hate one another, why can’t they respect one another; the wife, husband, children, the elderly, the teacher, the soldier, the one who learns Torah? Respect!!!” Sivan quotes Rabbanit Mizrachi.

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Then Rabbanit Mizrachi asked all of us women to do something: “every woman put your hand on the shoulder of the woman next to you, don’t be embarrassed or uncomfortable, and declare together with me: I accept upon myself the commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself. Now do it!” Sivan relates what she saw.

250 women, young, old, secular and religious, those getting stronger (in their observance) and those getting weaker, all in the middle of Tel Aviv put their hand on the shoulder of the woman next to them whom they didn’t know, on the evening before Memorial Day, and declared word for word that they accept upon themselves to try and love one another more.”