RABBI SHLOMO AVINER: LOVER OF ZION
by Ariella Bracha Waldinger
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner has an amazing history of service to the nation of Israel. Born in German-occupied Lyon, France in 1943, he was spared deportation by being hidden under a false identity. As a young man, he was active in the religious Zionist youth movement, later becoming national director of Bnei Akiva. At University, he studied mathematics, physics, and electrical engineering. At the age of 23 infused with the ideal of working the Land of Zion, he made Aliyah to Israel. He first lived in Kibbutz Sedei Eliyahu, in the Beit She’an valley of the Galil.
Soon after, he went to learn at Yeshiva Mercaz Harav in Jerusalem, where he first met Ha Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook, Rosh Yeshiva and son of Israel’s first chief Rabbi. He became one of his leading students. This meeting shaped his core values in a dynamic way and ultimately impacted his destiny as he is one of Israel’s most well known leaders of the religious Zionist movement.
During this time, Rav Aviner enlisted in the Tzahal-the Israel Defense Force and served as a soldier in both the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War earning the rank of Lieutenant. After this period, he was directed by his Rabbi to settle in Hevron and learn Torah there.
In 1971, at the age of 28 he became the Rabbi at Kibbutz Lavi, in the lower Galilee where he spent half of his day farming. Later, he became the Rabbi of Moshav Keshet in the Golan Heights and then, in 1981, accepted the position of Rabbi of the Binyamin region of Beit-El, a position he still holds. Additionally, he is Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivet Ateret Yerushalayim (formerly known as Ateret Cohanim). It is located in the Old City of Jerusalem and has produced rabbis, teachers, educators and officers of extraordinary quality that serve in the IDF and many other positions throughout Israel.
Rav Aviner has produced hundreds of books and articles which frequently appear in Israeli publications. He hosts two weekly radio stations, teaches weekly classes, publishes a Q&A blog and lectures throughout Israel. He is a strong presence in Israel and is very vocal in his love of Medinat Yisrael…the State of Israel. The following is a poem he wrote about our precious Medinat Yisrael.
“I Recite the Prayer for the State”
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Chief Rabbi of Beit El
When between Shacharit and Mussaf the chazzan recites the prayer for the State, that’s my happiest moment of the week.
When I hear, “Father in Heaven; Rock and Redeemer of Israel,” I jump up like a spring, and I don’t change a single word.
All the proof in the world won’t change me in the least.
The more they make fun the more I’ll say this prayer.
I’d like to get up and tell the chazzan, “Say it again and again!”
I’d like to get up and kiss him.
Even when the country and the government desecrate the holiness of the Sabbath, I persist in this prayer for their welfare.
Even when they desecrate the holiness of the land,
I persist as well, and I won’t stop.
Because this is my country. I have no other.
And I love it the way it is.
This is my government. Yes! Mine.
And I’ll repeat it a thousand times.
I have harsh criticism for it. I suffer terrible sorrow over it.
But it’s my government.
When it gets replaced by one better, I will be very happy.
But in the meantime, it’s mine,
And I shall continue to pray for it with all my heart.
And when it’s replaced, I’ll pray for the next one.
And I’ll say, “This is my government.”
And I’ll say proudly before the whole world:
“I’m no longer a downtrodden people controlled by a foreign government. “I’ve got my own government.
“Do you hear, nations of the world?
“I’ve got my own government, and I’m proud of it.”
Governments come and governments go, yet the pride forever remains.
And if someone prints a sticker that says:
“I recite the prayer for the State
Like a newly-opened flower.
And if, G-d forbid, this state and this government
Enact laws against our Torah, I will cry a lot, obviously.
I will tell everyone that these laws are void like the dust
But I will continue to recite the prayer for the State, joyfully!
Some see only the shadows, but some also see the light.
After all, if there are shadows, it’s a sign that there is light.
And that light is so sweet!
So I recite the prayer for the State.