This past week was Yom Ha Atzmaut. Because of my becoming religious through NCSY and going to learn in Yeshiva University in NY, KBY in Israel, Ner Israel in Baltimore and then Aish HaTorah and Ohr Sameach in Jerusalem I've got a very strong but unique attachment to this day. My children, growing up in a “Yeshivish” world, are being taught a very different perspective. Thus, this past Shabbos as one child told me something was assur that we do every Shabbos because her Rabbi said that Rav Elyashiv said so. However, this Rabbi also neglected to teach her that Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Z”l poskened the opposite at the same time. Another child made fun of the students of Sha'alvim who walk all day from their school to Jerusalem because he didn't understand these extremely mesiras nefesh hesder students. Another son made a snappy word play with the name Yom Ha Azmaut (I will refrain from stating exactly what it was). I could not leave it alone.
I explained as Rav Zeff Leff taught me in my post Rabbinical training that when one Rabbi follows the mesorah handed down from Moshe to his students etc. and another Rabbi does the same, both can come to very different conclusions which are equally valid because both are “The words of the Living G-d” (elu v elu divrei Elokim chayim).
I explained as I learned in KBY that the boys learning in Hesder actually spend extra time in the army than all of their peers just so they can defend their country and learn Torah in Yeshiva.
I explained as I learned from Rav Noah Weinberg Z”l that two boys, one born in Iran and one born two miles away in Iraq would agree that the US and Israel are evil and that they hate the other one because of the society they happened to be born in.
I explained that my children who love the creator of the universe, love learning his Torah, love doing mitzvos and many other attributes they have that I feel very blessed for, that if they had been born in Israel and if I was working in the Hesder yeshiva world, they would probably be the best students of Torah in that society and would be walking to Jerusalem on Yom Ha Azmaut!!!!
Thanks to our living in Columbus Ohio for 5 years and the countless NCSY Shabbatons they attended, they got the point right away.
They understood that we mourn Sefiras HaOmer because we did not respect each other.
They understood that Sinas chinam (Hatred of a fellow Jew) was creeping into their very own thought patterns.
They decided to correct this in themselves and their friends if possible.
We NCSY alumni can teach this very important midah correction to our peers in the varied parts of Jewry we are in. We have prominent alumni in every camp. Let us take Sefiras Haomer as a time to bring love and understanding to our brothers and sisters who want Moshiach every day but have lost the way.
Have an Awesome Shabbos,
Rabbi Dave Felsenthal
Director NCSY/OU Alumni