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A Torah scroll for lone soldiers: Connecting purpose with strength

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

In honor of Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day for those killed in war or terrorist attack), the following words were spoken this week by Ron Dermer, Israel's former ambassador to the United States. The occasion was the arrival and dedication of a new Torah scroll in the memory of Michael Levin. Levin made aliyah,as a lone soldier from the United States and fell in the Second Lebanon War, sixteen years ago:

"Ladies and gentlemen. The celebration upon the arrival of a new Torah scroll reminds us that the Torah gives us a purpose and the sovereign State of Israel gives us strength.

"For two thousand years, we had a purpose but lacked strength. We suffered from persecutions, massacres, and pogroms, to say nothing of the unprecedented horrors of the Holocaust.

"But strength without a purpose cannot guarantee a Jewish future. The most powerful kingdoms and the most sophisticated cultures collapsed when people lost their way, when they lost their purpose. This is a lesson that we know quite well. Ancient history in this land shows us that when our nation lost its way, when we lost our sense of meaning - we lost our sovereignty as well.

"When we knew how to connect purpose with strength, our nation not only survived, but thrived. This evening we celebrate the arrival of a Torah scroll to a house for lone soldiers. I am reminded of the arrival of King David's Torah scroll here in Jerusalem 3,000 years ago. He danced and rejoiced before the Holy Ark.

David understood that to turn his people’s capital into a shining city on a hill, he needed to do more than erect buildings of stone and cedar. He needed to marry power and purpose by bringing God’s presence into the city.

So he rejoiced and danced before the Ark as it entered Jerusalem.

Today, as we bring a Sefer Torah into this house, let us remember that joy.

Let us remember those like Michael who shared that joy in defending our homeland".


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