Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dayenu - 1962

Beyond Words
Selected Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane,
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“Beyond Words” is a newly-published seven volume collection of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s writings that originally appeared in The Jewish Press, other serial publications, and his privately-published works.
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As yet another Yom Ha’Atzmaut appears, the conviction grows that the feelings of

 exhilaration and exaltation that gripped us in the early years are no longer quite what they were then.  The spontaneous mood of joy, the instinctive pride in the rebirth of an independent Jewish state is a little less noticeable, a little more subdued.  The head is not quite as high and the carriage not quite as erect.  In short, as with so many other great events in our lives, habit has dulled the splendor, and repetition has muted the sounds of excitement.

And yet, it must be an axiom for us – a generation of spiritual poverty, barren of greatness and inadequate in wisdom – to remember and speak of and celebrate this day.   And though we were all-wise and all-understanding, all-hoary and learned in the Torah, here too would it be out duty to recount the story of this day.  For its story is the tale of the world, the reasons for its creation, the path along which it must walk.

Yom Ha’Atzmaut is an affirmation of Divine Will and Control of history and mankind.  It is the cry that “many are the schemes within the heart of man, but the plan of the L-rd – this will persevere”  (Proverbs 19:21).  It surveys the wreckage of mighty empires fallen from the heights and records the uplifting of the small, raised from the depths.  It is the graveyard of emperors and the throne of their victims.  It is the lifting – for a moment – of the veil of prophecy.  It is the promise which has stood by our fathers and us.

Do we truly comprehend the implications of this day?  If we did, we could not be still from excited wonder.  We would shout our joy from the rooftops.  Sing praises to our Maker each hour of each day.

For this is a day which transforms belief into knowledge, faith into assurance.  It proclaims the defeat of the mighty tyrant at the hands of the righteous and weak, it casts the wicked into the dung heap of history and rewards the patient innocents.  It proclaims the obvious, false, and the incredible, credible.

And if it is said: But there are many such days in the chronology of our people, let it be answered: But this we saw this was ours.  For no matter how great the faith of a people, no matter how much patience it possesses, it is good – indeed necessary – for such faith, even for a little, to receive assurances.  It is important for a wound to be soothed, if only a little, for tears to be wiped, if only for a time.

And so it is with us. Yom Ha/Atzmaut is our comfort.  It is the balm against the pain of a Hitler, the ointment for the wounds of twenty centuries of countless forces of murder and terror.  It is the solace of the All Mighty – His reassurance that the road to Auschwitz is not the final one.  His consolation that our faith in Him shall not be in vain.

And more important, this day is our solace in the days that lie ahead.  For though they loom black and foreboding, though they may appear unbearable and hopeless, this day is our sustenance.  For if we could walk the tortuous path of history, past the wolves that tore at our flesh, past the demons who tore at our soul; if we could survive the giants of the earth by being the titans of the universe; if we could live to see the day when a people without territory or king or army could return to its land and raise its bloodied brow, then surely the edicts of a boorish Eastern muzhik will no longer strike fear into our hearts, not will the shadow of a Bomb cause us to lose our faith.  And if this be all that Yom Ha’Atzmaut serves to teach us - Dayenu
Written May 11, 1962

Editor’s note: The word dayenu in Hebrew means “it is enough for us”  Yom Ha’Atzmaut is Israel’s Independence Day, 5 Iyar, 57-8 (May 14, 1948)

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