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Poor support for our protectors

  • 2b-Letter7
The hall was full at the Yom Hazikaron ceremony at Yeshiva College last Tuesday (7 May), but attendance was poor in relation to the size of the Johannesburg Jewish population.
by Jonathan Egdes, Johannesburg | May 16, 2019

This is arguably the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Is it not basic derech eretz (the way of the world) to say thank you to someone who has done you a favour? How, then, does the community not see that the men and women who stand and serve in the searing heat, rain, and freezing cold, 24 hours every single day, 365 days a year, in Israel and around the world, in friendly and hostile communities, are deserving of recognition? And those are the living ones. Those who have died so that you can travel safely, send your children on gap years to yeshivot and michlalot (schools and colleges) or on other Israel programmes, can sit on the beach in Tel Aviv, or go and daven at the Kotel, is there no hakarat hatov (gratitude) for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so you can do that?

Are we really only takers who cannot “sacrifice” an hour or two of our time to recognise those who gave everything? Is it not more important to go to a funeral than a wedding? The chief rabbi emphasises that they are kedoshim and tehorim (holy and pure). Is a military cemetery less holy than the gravesite of any tzaddik (spiritual leader)?

While I am on the topic, I find it absurd and incomprehensible that on Shabbat in some communities, they do not say a prayer for the soldiers. My logic is as follows. I presume that you believe that prayer has power. I assume that you believe that pikuach nefesh (the saving of a life) is a mitzvah. Then surely it stands to reason that one has to pray for those in the security system whose lives are in constant danger.

I am not asking you to say a prayer for and recognise Israel. Just pray that they stay safe while keeping us safe. It is said derech eretz precedes the Torah. Obviously that lesson has not been well taught. May these lessons be learned speedily in our days. 


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