23.04.2011 19.Nisan, 5771 Chel Hamo'ed 3; Tag 4 des Omer
Let it be a day of remembrance and mourning, of tribute to those who suffered, those who perished and those who offered help and comfort.
When Pessah comes, the two newest sacred days of the Jewish calendar are not far behind: Yom Hashoah V’hagevura (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut. Without positing a causal link between them, these two days commemorate the two most significant events in modern Jewish history and the polar opposites that they represent. Holocaust Remembrance Day signifies the worst tragedy we have ever experienced, that which brought the Jewish people as close to extinction as we have ever been. Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrates the great triumph of our return to our national home, the phoenix-like resurrection of the Jewish people from the ashes of near-destruction.
To my mind, Holocaust Remembrance Day is the saddest and most tragic day of the Jewish year. Nothing even remotely like it ever occurred before. The systematic destruction of six million individuals, one-third of our people, the elimination of a great center of Jewish life and learning – it is beyond imagining. Each year, I listen to the reading of Megillat Hashoah, a liturgical retelling of the events of the Holocaust, written by Avigdor Shinan under the auspices of a special committee of the Rabbinical Assembly and the Schechter Institute. It is chanted aloud in synagogues throughout the world, and I contemplate an event that I cannot begin to comprehend. I ask myself questions about it and I read many excellent books that describe aspects of it, and I still cannot grasp fully what happened and why….