Every year, when reflecting on Israel’s national holidays, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut, I’m always amazed at how we are able to transition from the sad and painful emotions experienced on Israel’s Remembrance Day one day, to the joy and jubilation of Israel’s Independence Day the next.
While there has been some debate regarding the scheduling of these two important days, the way in which we celebrate them very much mirrors Jewish history, as well as Jewish philosophy. Like the slavery in Egypt that preceded the Exodus, to the Holocaust that cemented the need for a Jewish state, our history is replete with patterns of darkness before dawn. The Talmud, as well, specifically refers to the period before the Messiah comes as the “birth pangs of the Messiah,” showing that our ultimate redemption comes on the heels of much struggle.
One thing is for certain, the ability of the Jewish people to continuously rise up, rebuild and become stronger from our experiences, is testimony to our unique character as a people, as a nation and as a family, and must be highlighted and celebrated on Yom Ha’Atzmaut.
I would like to share an amazing story, which really emphasizes how special it is to be a part of the nation of Israel.
Mrs. Imanuelov lost her husband after an illness, leaving her to raise their son, Dvir, alone. When he reached 18, he joined the Israeli army. His mother protested because he was all she had left. He wouldn’t budge, though, and eventually his mother gave in, knowing her husband would have been very proud. The son became a paratrooper and fought in Operation Cast Lead when Israeli forces entered Gaza city to wipe out the terrorist cells that had been firing rockets into Israel for so long.
Unfortunately, Dvir was the first Israeli soldier to be killed in the war. His mother was heartbroken and she became depressed, barely leaving her home.
A couple of years later, her friends invited her to a concert in Jerusalem where her favourite singer would be performing. After much persuasion, she agreed to go.
During the concert, she felt a constant tapping on her shoulder. When she turned around, she saw it was a little boy, not yet two years old.
“Stop Dvir, that’s enough, stop touching that lady!” she heard the child’s mother tell him.
Mrs. Imanuelov couldn’t help herself and asked the lady why she had named her son Dvir.
The mother responded, “When I was pregnant, my baby had some complications and I was admitted to the hospital. During my stay, I watched the news and heard that an Israeli soldier was killed in Gaza: Dvir Imanuelov of blessed memory. I prayed to God and said, if my child is born healthy, I will name him Dvir, after that soldier who was killed defending his people.”
Mrs. Imanuelov choked up and said, “Dvir was my son.”
Mrs. Imanuelov was overcome with joy and, today, she is like a grandmother to that little boy. Not only has he helped her recover from depression, he has given her a new understanding of what it means to be part of a Jewish country, and how unique and special the Jewish people are.