The next two sunsets and sunrises will mark two key events in the Israeli calendar. Tonight, at sundown, we will commemorate Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, which pays tribute to the nation’s fallen soldiers and civilian victims of terrorism. The next day, we shift our melancholic mood to joy as we celebrate Israel’s 74th Independence Day.
It is not coincidence that these holidays are held one after the other; the first, which is celebrating those who died for the nation, is the sad intro to the next day’s glorious climactic celebration. It mirrors the struggle of Jews in history where we begin with enormous despair and sadness brought about by our subjugation in Egypt, and is followed by our liberation.
Natan Alterman perhaps puts these two holidays in their best light. In his 1948 poem “The Silver Platter”, he parallelizes the sacrifice of countless troops and civilians as the silver platter where Israel’s freedom is laid. The fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism is the “silver platter on which the Jewish State was given”.
As we commemorate and celebrate these historic occasions, let us bless the memory of the fallen, both civilian and military, for the cause of the Jewish State. Our duty to remember is the rag that keeps this silver platter shiny and clean. Their blood and lives, visible only to HaShem, is the cleaning agent that keeps our silver platter a shining example to all. The meal atop that silver platter is our joyful existence in our land today.
May the memories of the fallen be blessed, and may Israel be free forever.