Halacha Date: 3 Iyar 5778 April 18 2018
Today is Memorial Day for the fallen soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. Last year, we had mentioned the words of Maran zt”l with regards to the deaths of the soldiers of the IDF where he quoted the Gemara (Baba Batra 10b) regarding the Martyrs of Lod, about whom the Gemara states that no other creature can stand on their level. The Martyrs of Lod is a reference to the brothers, Papus and Lulianus. Once, the daughter of the king was found murdered and there were those that suspected that the Jews were involved. The king decreed that all the Jews would be annihilated. At that point, Papus and Lulianus gave up their lives for the Jewish nation by claiming that they were the one’s who killed the king’s daughter. As a result, the king killed only them and the rest of the Jews were spared. The Sages referred to these two brothers when they said that no other creature could stand on their level as a result of the tremendous reward that awaited them in the World to Come.
Maran zt”l added that this certainly could be said of the fallen soldiers of the IDF who gave up their lives protecting the Jewish nation. May their souls be bound up in the circle of the living.
In the year 5734/1974, following the Yom Kippur War when a memorial service was being held for the fallen IDF soldiers in the Yom Kippur War, Maran zt”l offered words of consolation and encouragement for the bereaved families. Nevertheless, this did not deter him from bringing up the spiritual plight of the Jewish nation at the time. The following was what he said at the time:
“The verses in Shir Ha’Shirim state: ‘The voice of my beloved knocks: Open for me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled’ and the Jewish nation responds, ‘I have removed my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I soil them?’ During the Six Day War, we were shown miracles, wonders, and signs of redemption from Heaven, so much so that even the secular commander of the IDF at the time, Yitzchak Rabin, exclaimed the verse, ‘This is Hashem’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes!’ This is indeed the meaning of the verse, ‘The voice of my beloved knocks: Open for Me!’ meaning that Hashem is knocking and tells the Jewish nation to open up. Open for me like that of a needle in observance of the Torah and Mitzvot and I will open for you an opening the size of a hall. The time for mercy has arrived and if we would merit it, we would utilize these days to repent fully before Hashem and to open an opening for Hashem in response to the loving terms Hashem has addressed us with.
However, we have acted lazily and carelessly, as the verse states, ‘I have removed my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I soil them?’ When Hashem sees that we are not even opening up an opening the size of that of a needle, He does not open an opening for us either, similar to what the pious men say that if we see that Hashem is not opening up an opening the size of a hall for us, it must be an indication that we have not opened up even an opening the size of the needle!
The following verse states, ‘My beloved put his hand by the hole of the door and my hear moved for him.’ In spite of everything else, Hashem continues to shower us with goodness and that will cause us to return to Him. Although the United Nations tried to force the State of Israel to return to the ‘Green Line’ borders, they did not succeed. Nevertheless, there were some secular Jews who desecrated Shabbat by driving to Ramallah, Jenin, Shechem, and Gaza on the holy Shabbat. This is ungratefulness of the highest order! Such brazen ungratefulness has caused that, as the verse continues, ‘I arose to open for my beloved’, when we finally seek out Hashem, ‘but my beloved had turned away,’ then when we pray, it will already have been too late, for ‘I sought him but I could not find him, I called him but he did not answer me.’ It is as if Hashem does not heed our requests and at that point, the War of Attrition broke out which claimed the lives of some of our soldiers, may Hashem avenge their blood, and this eventually led to the Yom Kippur War. This is the continuation of the verse, ‘The watchmen that go around the city found me, they hit me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took my mantle away from me.’ We have suffered so many fallen and wounded casualties, so many widows and orphans who cry all day as a result of their losses! How harsh are these decrees! It seems as if Hashem does not wish to have mercy upon us, as the verse states, ‘His body is as polished ivory overlaid with sapphires,’ meaning that its as if Hashem as become as rigid as ivory as a result of the Heavenly attribute of judgment. Nevertheless, let us remember that ‘His mouth is most sweet, he is altogether lovely’ and Hashem only means to lead us to repent fully before him. Indeed, the verse states, ‘For as a man reprimands his son, Hashem your G-d reprimands you.’
The Midrash states that in the future, Hashem will send the prophets to console the Jewish nation and when the prophets go to the Jewish nation, the Jewish nation will respond to them: ‘Just as we have received the punishments and harsh decrees directly from the hand of Hashem, now when it is time for comfort, is it correct that we receive it from flesh and blood? We do not want your consolation!’
The prophets then return to Hashem and tell Him, ‘Master of the Universe, the Jewish nation does not wish to accept consolation from us!’ Hashem will then reply, ‘If so, I must go Myself to comfort and appease them,’ as the verse states, ‘Like a man whose mother consoles him, so shall I console you.’ Similarly the verse states, “I, yes I, am your consoler.’”
May it be Hashem’s will that we merit seeing the Ultimate Redemption and then finally we shall witness the Resurrection of the Dead and the entire world will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem, Amen.