Independence Day 5773: Simple Siren

On the Shabbat around the time that we mark Yom HaZikaron, the Day of Remembrance for Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, and celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, we read Parshat Emor, which includes a list of the Torah’s holy days. This serves to empower our feeling that our modern “Israeli” holy days are a natural continuation of this process. Let us study together an insight of Rabbi Shimon Gerson Rosenberg, Rav Shagar, regarding these special days.

Rav Shagar distinguishes between three levels of connection with one’s land: adama, aretz, medina (ground, land and state). Adama is the most basic connection, for the ground, which represents the Kabbalistic reality of the supernal Mother (the Sefira of Bina), is both the womb from which man emerges (just as Adam was created from the dust) and the place to which he ultimately returns. Adama is thus the place of our growth and our toil, man’s basic existential reality that precedes his private existence. 

Aretz on the other hand is also moledet, the birthplace and homeland. It is the combination of adama together with its history. In this sense it functions as a familial reality, as an extension of the individual. It is the concrete reality of those people who together work the adama, uplifting it to the level of aretz.

Medina is at the other end of the spectrum from adama. Here we encounter a human organizational pattern with unique social and political overtones (the sefira of Malchut). In this situation the individual (the “citizen”) willingly relinquishes part of his personal sovereignty for the common good. Thus the medina represents something much greater than the sum of its individual constituents, and as such it inspires its citizens with feelings of inspiration and awe.

Thus, concludes Rav Shagar, the simple siren on Yom HaZikaron, much like the simple shofar blast on Rosh HaShana, arouses within us deep memories. First and foremost, we painfully recall the fallen soldiers and terror victims. But there is also more. A deep sense of solidarity and common purpose is aroused, a feeling of belonging to extended family. Hence the deep pathos of these days is experienced. For that national solidarity, that feeling of being part of the extended family of the Jewish People, who are connected to all three levels of adama, eretz and medina, is a foreshadowing of the complete Redemption. At that time:

The partitions between people will be removed and people will no longer take advantage of each other. On that day I will be able to rely on my fellow man just as I rely upon myself. Even more importantly – he will be able to rely on me.

May the day come soon when the First Fruits of our Redemption will be actualized and we will experience Medinat Yisrael as Rav Kook envisioned it; the foundation of the Lord’s throne in the world.

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach.

Based upon R. Shagar’s 5760 drasha, Tzefira Peshuta (“Simple Siren”), published in Bayom HaHu, pp. 33-40.

About the Author
Rabbi Dr. Zvi Leshem directs the Gershom Scholem Collection for Kabbalah and Hasidism at the National Library of Israel. He is the author of 'Redemptions: Contemporary Chassidic Essays on the Parsha and the Festivals'. Many of his articles can be accessed at