Halakhic Significance of the Israeli Flag

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Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik

by R. Aharon Ziegler

Rabbi Yisrael Lau, Former Chief Rabbi of Israel and currently the chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv tells of a young rabbi who turned to Rabbi Ruderman, the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner-Yisrael. He said that his congregation refused to accept a gift from a Holocaust survivor of a parochet, a curtain for the Aron HaKodesh, with a Star of David embroidered on it, because this is a symbol of the Zionist country. Rabbi Ruderman was astonished to hear this: “That country rescued hundreds of thousands of homeless refugees whose entire world had been shattered, and gave them food and shelter. There are indeed things that should be fixed in the country-the people should repent, but we must all repent, both those in the country and those of us outside. Leave the parochet as it is. Don’t remove the Star of David, and don’t hurt the feelings of this poor Jew.”

Regarding the Halachic significance of the Israeli flag, Rav Soloveitchik said that he did not think that flags and ceremonies have any significance. However, let us not ignore a basic law in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Dei’a, Hilchot Aveilut, that if a Jew is killed by Gentiles he is buried in his clothing, so that his blood will be visible, and people will avenge it. The clothes of a Jew become holy to some degree when they are stained with holy blood, and this is certainly true of the blue and white flag, which is soaked in the blood of thousands of young Jews who fell in the defense of the land and the settlements. It has a spark of Kedusha which stems from dedication and self-sacrifice. We are all obligated to honor the flag of Israel and to show respect for it.

About Aharon Ziegler

Rabbi Aharon Ziegler is the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Agudath Achim of Boro Park and the Dean and Rosh Kollel of Kollel Agudath Achim. He is the author of six volumes of Halakhic Positions of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

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