"Shout for Joy to the Lord, All the Earth"
To the State of Israel and all its inhabitants,
When my grandparents from east and west were fortunate enough to get close to the age of 75, they sat with every single one of their grandchildren, in order to convey to them values and prayers that they carried for them in their hearts. On the 75th birthday of the State of Israel, I pray that all of our grandparents and all the previous generations will join the 75 letters that were written here, and pray for us with hope, so we may merit to be a land that desires life, and is blessed with honesty.
On our 75th year, we are experiencing painful and divisive days. We have been caught in a trap of division and divisiveness that is tearing us apart from within. Extreme violence and polarization threaten to dismantle our delicate collective tissue and endanger everything we have built and dreamt to endow. As in a national traumatic reconstruction, this is happening in the 75th year of sovereignty, when we have already known disasters and destruction over and over again. All the wounds are open and need healing and responsibility, and unity and faith and hope. Will we fall again into disaster and failure? Or this time we will succeed? And How? What work of virtues can each individual and sector and all of Israel's leaders do, in order to save us and all that is dear to us?
The last value for Israel’s 75th Independence, I cannot choose by myself. I bring it from those who actually witnessed the destruction and handed it over to us, in the name of God: “Rabbi Joshua ben Levi said, God said to Israel: you caused the destruction of my home, since you were asking how it was, I forgive you...Ask for the peace of Jerusalem and claim its well being, for all my brothers and friends I will seek peace for you, for those who want peace and work for peace and bring peace, God will be their inheritance” (Masechet Derech Eretz, the end of the peace chapter, Halakhah 20).
The super value that God is giving us, his prayer for us during the years of exile, his hope for us during all the years of our independence is “Shalom Bayit” (Peace in the Home).
Shalom Bayit is knowing that I am not alone at the home. The home depends on all its inhabitants. They will ask for each other’s well being. They will make room for one another. Will they be responsible, caring and connected to one another in partnership, humility, balance and respect, with acts of love and kindness, integrity, consideration and mercy. Will they agree to live together with acceptance which is the secret of perfection. If not, the home will not continue to exist. If yes, if it will manage to survive the selfishness and the narrow interests, the weaknesses, the violence, the sectarianism and the flaws, the political suicide and the social self-destruction, then we and our grandchildren will be worthy to make “Shalom Bayit” among us and around us, and finally be, on our watch, a vigil of peace.
On this holy day, Israel’s 75th Independence day, I close my eyes and open my heart inwards, to pray for us here on this earth. I wish that our grandparents and all the generations in heaven will join us and will teach us the merit: May we be worthy of making a land of “Shalom Bayit: and be a vigil of peace.
Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum is the founding Rabbi of Kehilat Zion in Jerusalem and a co-founder of the Beit Midrash for Israeli Rabbis, a joint project of the HaMidrasha Educational Center for Israeli Judaism and the Shalom Hartman Institute. She is married to Yossi, and mother to three girls.