Last night and today the people of #Israel and many Jewish communities around the world are commemorating #YomHaZikaron, the day when we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of the State of Israel.
We mourn and remember each of the 23,646 fallen soldiers who died defending the Jewish state and also memorialise the 3,134 victims of terror. We pray that their families find comfort and healing. Though Israel has had to fight many wars, from the very beginning it sought peace.
The Hebrew language has two words for strength: koach and gevurah. Koach is the strength you need to win a war. Gevurah is the courage you need to make peace. Israel has shown both kinds of strength. But this is a strength that comes with a painful price.
Throughout Jewish history, we have had to fight for the right to be, and never more so than in the State of Israel, with a courage you find only in those whose ultimate aim is not victory but peace, not triumph but life and the ability to live without fear.
Those who fell were heroes not just of the military battle but of the human spirit. They were willing to die so that we, their children and grandchildren, their extended family, could live.
They lit a flame in the Jewish heart that will never die.
Let us, remembering them and their past, look today at the Israel they built, a land of freedom, energy, creativity, liberty, and life, and continue to pray for the day when peace will be achieved. May this come speedily in our days. Amen.

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More from @rabbisacks

Sep 6, 2021
As we approach Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the start of the Jewish year, here are ten short ideas from Rabbi Sacks zt"l which might help you focus your davening and ensure you have a meaningful and transformative experience.
(1) Life is short. However much life expectancy has risen, we will not, in one lifetime, be able to achieve everything we might wish to achieve. This life is all we have. So the question is: How shall we use it well?
(2) Life itself, every breath we take, is the gift of God. Life is not something we may take for granted. If we do, we will fail to celebrate it. Yes, we believe in life after death, but it is in life before death that we truly find human greatness.
Read 12 tweets
Oct 1, 2020
THREAD -> #Succot is the festival of insecurity. It is the candid acknowledgment that there is no life without risk, yet we can face the future without fear when we know we are not alone. Image
God is with us, in the rain that brings blessings to the earth, in the love that brought the universe and us into being and in the resilience of spirit that allowed a small and vulnerable people to outlive the greatest empires the world has ever known.
Succot reminds us that God’s glory was present in the small, portable Tabernacle that Moses and the Israelites built in the desert even more emphatically than in Solomon’s Temple with all its grandeur. A temple can be destroyed. But a succah, broken, can be rebuilt tomorrow.
Read 9 tweets
Sep 30, 2020
THREAD -> #Succot is the time we ask the most profound question of what makes a life worth living.
Having prayed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to be written in the Book of Life, Kohelet (the book we read on Succot) forces us to remember how brief life actually is, and how vulnerable. “Teach us rightly to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
What matters is not how long we live, but how intensely we feel that life is a gift we repay by giving to others. Surely this is a message that resonates even more forcefully this year as we approach Succot in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Read 6 tweets
Sep 29, 2020
THREAD -> More than any other festival, #Succot (which begins on Friday evening) represents the dual character of Jewish faith. We believe in the universality of God, together with the particularity of Jewish history and identity. Image
All nations need rain (which we pray for on Succot). We are all part of nature. We are all dependent on the complex ecology of the created world.
We are all threatened by climate change, global warming, the destruction of rain forests, the overexploitation of non-renewable energy sources and the mass extinction of species.
Read 9 tweets
Sep 26, 2020
There is an old story that I find incredibly moving and powerful, particularly as we approach #YomKippur in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic (and which appears in my 'Ceremony & Celebration' educational resource for Yom Kippur -> rabbisacks.info/2E0XMhR). Image
One Yom Kippur, the Baal Shem Tov was praying together with his students, and he had a worrying sense that the prayers were not getting through, and the harsh heavenly decree against the Jewish people was not being overturned.
As Ne’ila approached, and with it the final opportunity for the Jewish people to avert this harsh judgement, he and his students increased their fervour and passion in their prayers, but to no avail.
Read 12 tweets
Sep 25, 2020
“Wherever you find God's greatness,” said Rabbi Yohanan, “there you will find His humility.” And wherever you find true humility, there you will find greatness.
That is what #YomKippur is about: finding the courage to let go of the need for self-esteem that fuels our passion for self-justification, our blustering claim that we are in the right when in truth we know we are often in the wrong.
Most national literatures, ancient and modern, record a people's triumphs. Jewish literature records our failures, moral and spiritual. No people has been so laceratingly honest in charting its shortcomings. In Tanakh there is no one without sin.
Read 10 tweets

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