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From Shoah to Statehood – Parashat Tazria-Metzora


Rav Hanan Schlesinger

All of us have witnessed – in our own lifetimes - dry bones risen from the grave; we have
all seen a veritable resurrection of the dead.

For almost 2000 years the Jewish people were in exile from our heartland, we were mere
ghosts of the national entity we once were and hoped to be again. During those long, dark
millennia during which we had no national home of our own, our lives on foreign soil
were often blood-soaked and filled with fear. We suffered murder and persecution, hate
and rape. We were harassed and exiled from land to land. Our books were burned and our
bodies tortured. But our souls they couldn’t touch.

And then, in our parent’s generation and in our own, we experienced the worst. In
Auschwitz and Dachau, in Bergen-Belsen and Treblinka, we fervently prayed ‘Next year
in Jerusalem’ only to be asphyxiated soon after in the gas chambers. Hitler seemed on the
verge of completing the crusade that was begun by Haman thousands of years earlier.

They made of us dry bones, and of the dry bones they made ashes. And putrid smoke.
Can ashes live? Could sinews and flesh and skin grow upon smoke? Could the emaciated,
hollow-eyed inmates of forced labor camps give birth to sovereignty and independence?
When darkness covered the earth and mankind was enveloped in a thick, dark cloud,
could God shine upon us and reveal his glory? The final act in this centuries-long drama
of horrific torment appeared to be about to bring the curtain down upon the Jewish
People.

And yet the impossible occurred, and it occurred before our very eyes. The Jewish State
arose from the ashes. The bones again stood on their feet. In our time we merited to see a
dream come true. Our Jewish Nation came alive again, as alive as we had been when the

Schultz Rosenberg Campus, 12324 Merit Drive, Dallas TX, 75251


Phone: 214-295-3525 Fax: 214-295-3526
Email: kollelofdallas@sbcglobal.net Web site: www.kollelofdallas.org
The Community Kollel of Dallas is an affiliate of the Center for the Jewish Future of Yeshiva University
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Romans wounded and crippled us and sent us into exile in the first and second centuries
of the Common Era.

Do the annals of history record anything to compare to what we have experienced? Is


there any parallel to such a transformation in the life of a people? Stand tall in the United
Nations plaza in New York, and gaze upwards at the flags of the member nations flying
in the breeze. There are flags representing nations that were born just yesterday, others
have been on this planet for decades. The Stars and Stripes stands for the proud United
States that has already celebrated the two century benchmark. The Chinese nation has
been around for thousands of years. But were else can you find a nation that has been
resurrected after an exile of more than 2000 years, and returns to its land bearing the
same culture, religion, language and value system that it nurtured and developed while
dispersed around the globe? Nothing even comes close. We are living a modern miracle.

We must wake up and take note. We have merited seeing the fulfillment of the visions of
our ancient prophets. When all seemed lost – and again and again during our dark history
all did seem lost – they buoyed our spirits with hope. ‘God’s people will again return to
His land,’ they told us. The day will come when the empty streets of Jerusalem and the
ruins of her former greatness will be rebuilt and will echo with the sounds of daily life.
Children will frolic in her courtyards and old men and old women will stroll her
alleyways. When the prophet Zechariah spoke these words, who would have believed
him?

Why me, God? Why was I chosen to live in the generation that sees the fulfillment of
your promises? What did I do to merit such blessing? How can I repay the goodness that
has been bestowed upon me? My forefathers were better Jews than I, but it is I who has
experienced that which they prayed and yearned for. Almost 200 generations lived and
breathed Torah, and so many of them died for Torah. And of all of them, it is I who has
merited to live when their dreams are being fulfilled. How shall I respond?

Schultz Rosenberg Campus, 12324 Merit Drive, Dallas TX, 75251


Phone: 214-295-3525 Fax: 214-295-3526
Email: kollelofdallas@sbcglobal.net Web site: www.kollelofdallas.org
The Community Kollel of Dallas is an affiliate of the Center for the Jewish Future of Yeshiva University
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Let us all respond with wonder and appreciation, with renewed dedication, with strength
and fervor, each in his and her own way. Let us all rise up to the challenge, and prove
ourselves worthy of the stupendous gift bequeathed us.

Schultz Rosenberg Campus, 12324 Merit Drive, Dallas TX, 75251


Phone: 214-295-3525 Fax: 214-295-3526
Email: kollelofdallas@sbcglobal.net Web site: www.kollelofdallas.org
The Community Kollel of Dallas is an affiliate of the Center for the Jewish Future of Yeshiva University