Today is the 60th Yahrzeit of Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Herzog, who served as Chief Rabbi right after the Establishment of the State of Israel. We will try to sum up his immense activity through three things that he said, which reverberate till this very day:
- “עוצו עצה ותופר” – in 1939 the British published the “White Paper” which hindered the ability to make aliyah and the settlement of the Land. Rabbi Herzog gave a dramatic speech against “treacherous” Britain, tore the White Paper apart in front of the audience, and declared “עוצו עצה ותופר” (“Take counsel together, and it shall be brought to nought”; Isaiah 8:10). Decades later his son, Chaim Herzog, became Israel’s ambassador to the UN and similarly tore apart the UN resolution that equated Zionism with racism. Official, printed papers can contain utter lies too.
- “There will not be a third destruction” – during WWII the German Army reached Egypt. The Land of Israel in its entirety was under danger of German invasion. The Rav encouraged the Jewish settlers and gave them strength, and then declared with confidence that this time – we have returned here to stay: “I declare, with all the responsibility that is laid upon me at this time: the Prophets prophesied about a First and a Second Destruction – but a third destruction will not be.”
- “Starting today – every child to us is like one thousand children”. These words were said by Rabbi Herzog to the Pope after the Holocaust, when he went out on a journey to find Jewish children who were transferred to convents and monasteries to avoid deportation and annihilation at Nazi concentration camps, and were baptized to Christianity there. Indeed, he returned many children to their Faith and People to their Homeland. In their meeting, he explained the extent of the Shoah and the depth of the tragedy and clarified (omit to the Pope), and clarified: Now, after we have lost six million – every child to us is like one thousand children.”
In his memory.