Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Those Who Protect Us

Israel mourned its dead on Tuesday. Over twenty three thousand people lost their lives as soldiers and victims of terror, since the state’s establishment in 1948. The next day, the festivities commenced, and Israelis celebrated sixty seven years of independence and political sovereignty.

The proximity between Israel’s Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron) and Israel’s Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzma’oot) is no coincidence. It seeks to stress and highlight the pervasive link between freedom and sacrifice, bravery and political existence. Natan Alterman, one of Israel’s national poets, once described Israel’s fallen soldiers as “the silver platter” upon which the precious and precarious gift of Jewish statehood depends.

Every Shabbat we pray for the well-being and safety of the soldiers of the IDF, and before that – we also pray for the safety and protection of all members of the US armed forces. From the comforts and safety of our homes, we watch with dread and shock unfathomable political evil on our TV’s and computer screens. These events mostly take place in the Middle East, thousands of miles away from us, but in a global world, these political forces are only a mere fifteen hour plane ride away from us. And there is really only one earthly force keeping that evil away from the doors of our homes, and from being within reach of us and our children.

These are our soldiers. Let’s not take them for granted. Let’s be grateful and cognizant of their indispensable role in the safeguarding of human civilization as we know it. As it states in Psalm 121: “The Almighty should safeguard their comings and goings, from now to eternity, Amen”.

Shabbat Shalom, of peace and freedom,
Rabbi Sessler

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