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    Battle of Beer-Sheva commemoration 2019

    Address by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple AO RFD at the World War I Battle of Beer Sheva commemoration, Park of the Australian Soldier, Beer Sheva, Thursday, 31 October, 2019.



    A question: What is today – a solemn day or a celebration?

    I think it’s a celebration – of sameness. This is a park like other parks, in a land like other lands.

    The Biblical B’nei Yisra’el wanted a king like other kings, a kingdom like other kingdoms.

    A story:

    Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, great-grandson of the Besht, lived in wintry Europe and dreamed of sunny Israel. He was always setting out for Israel, but some obstacle always got in his way.

    The biggest obstacle was what other people told him: “You want to go to Israel? It’s a land like other lands!”

    But Rebbe Nachman said, “Yes, it’s no different, but no, it’s not the same!”

    No, today doesn’t celebrate sameness.

    Sometimes in shule I stand looking out the window. I’m like other people who sit near a window, but I am different. I am really looking in, not out.

    I see Israelness, even though my eyes look at Israel.

    It’s like this with all of us in Israel. We look out – but we don’t see the sameness; we see the difference.

    This is not the same as other lands. We see a different quality in this little country; we sense the air and the ethos of this remarkable land.

    We think we’re in a park like other parks, but we are in a land that is quite unique.

    If we sometimes cry, it’s not for what we have lost in coming here. We cry for what we have gained.

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