Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them. — Psalm 126:6
During the Yom Kippur war in 1973, a soldier asked this moving question to then Prime Minister Golda Meir: “My father was killed in the War of (Independence in) 1948, and we won. My uncle was killed in the war of ’56, and we won. My brother lost an arm in the ’67 war, and we won. Last week, I lost my best friend over there . . . and we’re going to win. But is all of our sacrifice worthwhile, Golda?”
In Psalm 126, the psalmist writes: “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” This verse is often quoted in reference to the rebirth of the State of Israel, and it can be found on many buildings and monuments across the land.
Israelis have spent much time weeping as they sowed the seeds of a new country. Some of those sacrifices have come in the form of working long days in the hot sun; others have come in the form of the ultimate sacrifice – losing a loved one or one’s own life.
True, we have seen much fruit. Today Israel is a beautiful country with a thriving economy. However, we have not achieved our ultimate goal of being a safe people in our own land. Israelis still suffer from terror, war, and the loss of life. Is it worth it?
Here is how Golda Meir answered the soldier on that day in 1973: “I weep for your loss, just as I grieve for all our dead. I lie awake at night thinking of them. And, I must tell you in all honesty, were our sacrifices for ourselves alone, then perhaps you would be right; I’m not at all sure they would be worthwhile. But if our sacrifices are for the sake of the whole Jewish people, then I believe with all my heart that any price is worthwhile.”
Sometimes individuals or nations have to make difficult decisions for the sake of future generations. But remember, the freedom and prosperity that we enjoy today came from the blood, tears, and yes, sometimes the lives, of those who came before us. We owe it to them to do what they did for us, for our own children. Though we may weep as we plant, there will be joy in the future.
An ancient Jewish story speaks about a Torah scholar named Honi who once saw a man planting a carob tree. “Don’t you know that a carob tree takes 70 years to bear fruit? You won’t see the fruit in your lifetime!” The man answered Honi, “My fathers planted before me, and today I enjoy their fruit. I plant for my children.”
What seeds will you sow today?
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President