Colors: Yellow Color

I want you to think about a concept that nobody talks about. You won’t hear your rav speak about this on Shabbos. You won’t read an article on this subject in any Jewish magazine, and you certainly won’t hear any politician speak this way. I am referring to the important aspect of fighting the Jewish enemy and, while extremely difficult and painful, how it is an integral – and necessary – part of our national life.

I can live to be 1,000 and will never understand how Memorial Day is commemorated in the United States. According to the website Military.com, “Since the Revolutionary War ended, 646,596 American troops have died in battle.” Many other sources give numbers higher than that, but let’s use that one for this article. This past week was Memorial Day, and the country was being asked to honor the memory of those 646,596 heroes. How was that done? Let’s check it out.

My daughter Nava needed to write a d’var Torah about the month of Iyar, so we put our heads together and started to think. It’s well known that, according to Jewish tradition, Iyar is commonly referred to as the month of healing, for its name is an acronym of “Ani Hashem Rof’echa” (“I am G-d your Healer” – Sh’mos 15:26) – but there had to be more than that.

Allow me to answer the question right away: We pray for both! Our daily t’filos are filled with requests for peace. In Shacharis alone, we mention the word “shalom” about 20 times. Yet, in those same morning prayers, we recite chapter 149 of T’hilim with the words, “To exact vengeance among the nations.” On certain days throughout the year, we say “Avinu Malkeinu,” which includes the request: “Our Father, our King, avenge before our eyes the spilled blood of Your servants.” On Shabbos, just prior to returning the Torah to the ark, we say; “May He (Hashem) before our eyes, exact retribution for the spilled blood of His servants, as is written in the Torah of Moshe, the man of G-d, ‘Oh nations, sing the praise of His people for He will avenge the blood of His servants and bring retribution upon His foes’… Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their G-d?’ Let there be known among the nations, before our eyes, revenge for Your servants’ spilled blood…”

Many years ago, a major debate erupted in the new and young State of Israel. It was clear to all – and accepted by everyone – that a date needed to be selected to commemorate the Holocaust, but which day would that be? Unfortunately, unlike other Jewish tragedies, the horrors of the Holocaust tragically happened on all 365 days of the year. The debate went on until 1951, when a date was finally chosen: the 27th of Nisan – the anniversary of the height of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. (Note: The actual uprising started on Erev Pesach, the 14th of Nisan, but – for obvious reasons – this date was not chosen. Rather, it was 13 days later – on the 27th of Nisan, that historians recorded the greatest fighting by the Jews.) The day was then established and officially named: “Yom HaZikaron laShoah v’laG’vurah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day)” – but the debate continued.