Photo: David Stein

A New Generation of Heroes

An Introduction by Rabbi Aron White

BY RABBI ARON WHITE

Last year, Israel celebrated its 75th birthday in an atmosphere of apprehension. Four years of political deadlock had been followed by a controversial government whose judicial reform plan had unleashed unprecedented protests. Many feared that the political divides were cutting deeper than they had before, pointing to a more troubling, even existential issue. Rabbi Doron Perez wrote the following in these pages last year (“The Next Seventy-Five Years”, Vol. 6, No. 1), based on the ideas of Israeli writer Netanel Ellinson:

In both prior Jewish commonwealths, a crisis ensued as the nation neared its seventy-fifth year of independence. Quite remarkably, seventy-three years after David’s coronation as king over all the tribes of Israel, the people of Israel tragically split into two separate kingdoms: Yehudah and Yisrael. The same is true of the Hasmonean kingdom in Second Temple times. The Hasmonean kingdom was established by Shimon HaChashmonai, followed by Yochanan, and then King Alexander Yannai and Shlomtzion HaMalkah. In the seventy-third year, once again, a deep division ensued between the two princes Aristobulus and Hyrcanus. This became a family feud and a deep political divide, with one brother enlisting the support of the rising Roman Empire, giving Rome a foothold in Judea and eventually leading to the decimation of the Hasmonean kingdom and the destruction of the Temple.

In both cases, Ellinson notices a troubling trend within the first three generations of the establishment of statehood. The first generation is that of the founders, who rally all their resources to found the state and ensure its viability at the outset. The second generation is that of the builders, who build on the success of the founders to expand and enhance the national infrastructure and build sustainability for the generations to come. He poignantly terms the third generation as “the generation of the destroyers.” This generation by and large do not know firsthand the challenges of the founders but reap the benefit of their sacrifice and investment. Apathy sets in, then discord, and finally tragic divisiveness. This has happened not once but twice in the history of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

On October 7, some of those fears of the Jewish commonwealth coming apart were realized. Israel was attacked, suffering the most painful blow to the Jewish people since the Holocaust. But in the minutes, hours, days and months following that unbearable pain, we have seen this generation respond in ways that confounded our fears. Rather than causing Israel to come apart, the attack revealed deep reserves of courage, self sacrifice and commitment that have carried this war effort for the past six months. There are countless stories of bravery, of people choosing to risk their lives to save their family, community and people. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been serving as reservists, including thousands of people who flew back from abroad to serve. Supported by the gifts, messages and visits of millions of Jews around the world, a generation of Israeli teenagers and young adults have put everything aside to protect the Jewish homeland. While young Israelis may have grown up on the same diet of Fortnite and TikTok as their Western peers, something in the education and culture in Israel has created a generation of young adults totally committed to something much larger than themselves. We were worried that this new generation was the “generation of destroyers.” We have learned that they are a generation of heroes.

As we celebrate Israel’s birthday, once again under a cloud of doubt about the future, the spirit of this young generation gives us hope. In this edition, we tell the story of a new generation of heroes who will, with G-d’s help, carry the Jewish state to victory.

 

Rabbi Aron White is the Managing Editor of HaMizrachi magazine.

© 2024 World Mizrachi

Follow us: