Kenneth Brander
President and Rosh HaYeshiva, Ohr Torah Stone

The Stones of Redemption and the Rebuilding of Zion


This weekend, as we conclude the celebration of Yom Ha’atzma’ut and the commemoration of Yom Hazikaron, I would like to remind us of a pasuk from Yishayahu, where God says that in the building up the Jewish people in Zion, He will create a foundation stone.

What type of stone will it be? The verse states: “אבן בוחן פינת יקרת מוסד מוסד” – it must be a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a stone that will be a sure foundation. (Isaiah 28:16)

Rabbi Shai Finkelstein of the Nitzanim Congregation in Jerusalem points out an amazing interpretation of why the prophet uses seemingly redundant language in the definition of what type of stone this needs to be.

He quotes the Malbim (Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel Visser, זצ”ל, 1809-1879, Ukraine; died in Kyiv), who explains that the new stones of redemption have to be, first and foremost, a tried stone, a stone that is solid and won’t crumble, and which is not comprised of dust (“אבן לא מורכב מעפר”).

And indeed, the State of Israel represents a tried stone, because in Israel, modern statecraft and the bringing of Mashiach are one and the same.

In Israel, there is no separation between big ideas and mundane decisions. If you work in mergers and acquisitions; if you’re a venture capitalist in Israel, you’re creating the infrastructure that supports the modern state, you’re creating the infrastructure for the government that is the largest supporter of Torah in the world.

The stone also has to be an “אבן יקרה” – a precious stone. Indeed, our soldiers – whether formally religious or spiritually connected – bring values to every moment in the way they serve.

The stones also have to be “יסוד היסודות” – stones that can be bedrock stones, because in the modern State of Israel, we are creating institutions that are at the bedrock, making Torah relevant to every aspect of our life, every aspect of the generation.

It is why we have a responsibility in the State of Israel to find a place for the refugee,

to engage with minorities and to obliterate the Chillul Hashem of Get refusal.

It is why Torah is relevant to every aspect of warfare; that there is the concept of “Safra v’Saifa”, that Jewish tradition and the Jewish sword must work together.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky, זצ”ל, quoted from Tehillim – “יקר בעיני ה’ המותה לחסידיו” – “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his pious ones.” (Psalms 116:15) He explained that those killed in acts of terror and those who have been lost to us in defense of the country are the precious ones who sit at the foot of God’s throne in Heaven.

And we recognize that Israel wasn’t given to us on a silver platter, but rather through the selfless sacrifices of those who gave up their lives Al Kiddush Hashem.

Those who understand that these are the stones and – “המאמין לא יחיש” – “he who believes shall not make haste.” This is because we recognize that this is a process of building. And we mark this process – given to us by God and in which we are partners – by commemorating it on Yom HaZikaron and celebrating it on Yom Ha’atzma’ut.

Chag Atzma’ut Sameach! Shabbat Shalom!

About the Author
Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander is President and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone, an Israel-based network of 32 educational and social action programs transforming Jewish life, living and leadership in Israel and across the world. He is the rabbi emeritus of the Boca Raton Synagogue and founder of the Katz Yeshiva High School. He served as the Vice President for University and Community Life at Yeshiva University and has authored many articles in scholarly journals.
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