Israel Memorial Day

What Would YOU Really Like to Hear?


י״ז במרחשון ה׳תש״פ (15 בNovember 2019)


Speech and our nation’s existence

For the duration of Memorial Day and Independence Day in Israel we will hear speeches and see clips about the army and cyber security and Mobileye and start up nation and drip irrigation and the Israeli mind. This is all very nice but our independence is really built on another ingredient overlooked by the public.

Last week’s Torah portion Tazria-Metzora talked about speech and the importance of keeping it pure; the ‘culture’ of speech in which our sages tell us over and over in the commentaries that speech is very powerful.

You may think it’s a luxury to say ‘thank you’ or ‘pardon me’ or ‘excuse me’ but if we truly want to be an independent nation we should look at our history and remember that speech is what makes or breaks the nation. A society with a culture of disrespectful speech is not sustainable.

Joseph spoke against his brothers and they all had to go to Egypt for exile. The spies in the desert spoke against the Holy Land G-d was about to give us and the nation had to stay in the desert for 40 years. King David’s rule was compromised because of slander and mistrust and we all know the second temple was destroyed because of wanton baseless hatred. Our prophets are full of reprimands to a society based on falsehood and denial, warning that it will collapse.

This past Shabbat, 3 days before our Independence Day we read a Torah portion that tells us gossip, publicly shaming, and coarseness is not something insignificant, our security as a nation depends on avoiding them.

Are we supposed to avoid public discourse on values?

If I wanted to provoke I would write; Yom Hashoah and Memorial Day are great! It’s true they are sad and painful. But, on the other hand what you hear and see in the media is quality content, full of value and well prepared for these 2 days and it’s a pity that it’s only these 2 days and not the rest of the year.
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For the other 363 days of the year we hear how we’re being taken advantage of, fooled; we move from one scandal to the next. But suddenly for 2 days a year we hear that those same microphones in those same studios with the very same writers are fully capable of writing quality content. We discover that we can listen to a holocaust survivor instead of the star of a reality show, to a bereaved family instead of a family from the underground of organized crime.

We suddenly find we can seek out the message and the content not just the failure. These are the only days that whole battalions of writers, investigators and producers turn Israel upside down to get positive scoops and write modern day stories of the righteous. And you know what? It works!

It comes out that people really want to hear about kindness and volunteerism of a terror victim, the prose he wrote, and how the bereaved families find strength and cope with their losses. Why is it that only when evil attacks we suddenly remember the good? Why is it certain that if we hear the words, ‘a good boy, he would help his parents, he’s loved by all’, that this young man is no longer with us?

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