Israel Forever

For the week ending 17 December 2005 / 16 Kislev 5766

Deserving the Name

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

What do the following have in common?

The newly-elected Chairman of Labor, Israels second largest political party, expresses his gratitude for scoring an upset victory over veteran party leader Shimon Peres by paying a visit to the grave of Yitzchak Rabin rather than going to the Western Wall.

Magen David Adom agrees to remove the Star of David from its logo in order to gain full recognition from the International Red Cross.

Yehudit Tayer, a prime spokeswoman for the settlement movement, interprets these two incidents as indications that Israel is turning its back on Jewish tradition as she asks in an Op-Ed piece in the Jerusalem Post:

"Is this a new religion? Is this the tradition that has kept our nation together through the dark centuries of the Diaspora to go to the grave of a politician to express gratitude?"

In this weeks Torah portion the attacking patron angel of Eisav concedes victory to the Patriarch Yaakov and informs him that he will hereafter be called Yisrael "for you battled with angel and man and overcame them" (Bereishet 32:28). For Medinat Yisrael to be worthy of that august name it must cling to the religious tradition which teaches more reverence for a sacred place of prayer than the grave of a politician. It is only respect for tradition which will entitle us to bear the name of Israel forever.

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