While all the Land of Israel is holy, there are a few places in which I personally find an extra dose of Kedusha, holyness. The Kotel. The children’s memorial at Yad Va’shem. The military cemetery on Har Herzl.
This past week we commemorated Yom Hazikaron, the day of remembrance for Israel’s fallen heroes immediately prior to Yom Ha’atzmaut. I recall hearing something about our Chayalim in the name of one of the Torah giants of Jerusalem who passed away in 1995, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. A student once approached Rav Auerbach and asked for a timeout from his studies so he could travel north to pray at the graves of the Tzaddikim. Rav Shlomo Zalman looked perplexed but didn’t immediately answer. Sensing hesitation from his Rabbi, the student elaborated, explaining he had some personal issues to think through and he felt praying by the righteous would help. Rav Auerbach replied that he fully understood what the student wanted to do and why he wanted to do it, but could not understand why he would travel four hours to pray by the graves of a few Tzaddikim when there were thousands of them buried on Har Herzl, the military cemetery in Jerusalem just five minutes from the yeshiva! Every soldier who dies is the Holy of the Holiest.
This Parasha begins Kedoshim tiheyu, an instruction to be holy. Dying Al Kiddush Hashem brings in its wake holiness. Sanctifying our lives through living Al Kiddush Hashem all the more so.
Rabbi David Shaw