“We have one country – small and beloved. A country stronger than its parts, that can deal with any challenge, that flourishes in the face of any challenge.”
“We are once again hearing ‘us and them’, ‘them and us’ nowadays. I say: wait, hold on, let’s stop for a moment.”
“We must take care of our home. Disagreeing and arguing is allowed, but let us not be drawn into bombastic statements, to hatred and discord, even when it is difficult and deeply painful.”
President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin was greeted with songs today, Wednesday 27 May / 4 Sivan 5780, on his visit to the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva in Kfar for the Shavuot holiday, which marks the handing down of the Torah. The president was welcomed by the director of the Yeshiva, Pini Efrati, and the joint study session was led by the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yaakov Haviv.
The president began his remarks by speaking about the founders of the Yeshiva, Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neria ז"ל and Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman ז"ל. “In Jewish tradition, the days of the Omer became a kind of mourning period for the death of the pupils of Rabbi Akiva who did not respect each other. Rabbis Moshe Zvi Neria ז"ל and Avraham Zuckerman ז"ל wished to start the work of healing for their acts here, on this hill. They raised generations of students and Bnei Akiva members according to the words of Rabbi Akiva ‘Love your fellow as yourself; that is the greatest rule of the Torah’. They turned that value of connecting, respecting, loving each person into their banner. That banner is a lifetime’s work, an essential task for our generation, too. To find the threads that connect all parts of the people, to build bridges in the face of barriers,” he said.
The president continued, saying “we are once again hearing ‘us and them’, ‘them and us’ nowadays. I say: wait, hold on, let’s stop for a moment. We have one country – small and beloved. A country stronger than its parts, that can deal with any challenge, that flourishes in the face of any challenge. We have just celebrated 72 years of Israeli independence, and we remember how this wonder is not to be taken for granted. We must take care of our home. Disagreeing and arguing is allowed, but let us not be drawn into bombastic statements, to hatred and discord, even when it is difficult and deeply painful. We owe it to the generations that went before us and we owe it no less to our children, our grandchildren, to everyone.”
Speaking about the graduates of the Yeshiva, the president said, “From the 13 students who climbed his hill some 80 years ago, a world of Torah has grown – Israeli, nationalist, Zionist, distinguished. Over 100 of the graduates and students of this Yeshiva have fallen in Israel’s wars, from the establishment of the state and the Jewish fighting organizations until today. From this wonderful Yeshiva have grown the Hesder Yeshivot, the Ulpanot for girls, the pre-army academies and the higher Yeshivot. Some of my best friends in the Knesset are graduates of the Yeshiva, including Rabbi Druckman, Katzele, Hanan Porat ז"ל and others. The Bnei Akiva Yeshiva at Kfar Haroeh, which is celebrating 80 years, has become a symbol of religious Zionism, and religious Zionism is dear to us all.”
“I hope and wish that on Shavuot we can all return to our learning and our synagogues, carefully and according to the rules, but we will happily receive the Torah all together, as one. ‘With a brave heart and with the help of Hashem, we will surely go up!’”