These short Torah insights on the festivals address the unique challenges and opportunities that emerged with the historic return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. The author, Rabbi Dov Begon, student of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt”l and founder of the flagship religious Zionist kiruv yeshiva Machon Meir, penned these educational and inspirational messages that are collected here in English for the first time. New festivals such as Jerusalem Day, Israel’s Independence Day (Yom Ha-atzma’ut), and Memorial Day for the fallen soldiers of Israel are also explored, as well as the yahrzeit of Rav Kook. The Jewish holidays are all newly appreciated, viewed through the prism of Israel’s modern redemption.
About the Author
Rav Begon was born in Tel Aviv in 1940 to parents from Poland and Lithuania. The first time he ever met religious people was after being drafted into the IDF to the Nachal unit. After his service, he left the kibbutz and helped found the field school in Achziv, becoming one of the first tour guides for the Society for the Protection of Nature. His religious stirrings grew together with his connection to the land, feeling revelation from nature itself, and he started taking a Tanakh on his hikes, learning about the rivers and valleys mentioned there.
In 1973–74 Rav Begon taught Geography and Bible in Gymnasia Rechavya, a secular high school in Jerusalem. At the same time he saw many Israelis who came to Merkaz Harav after the Yom Kippur war, searching for their path to faith, and felt that he had to help them and care for all those “thirsty for God’s word.”
He recalls: “When I came to Merkaz I almost drowned. There was no program for beginners. It was like a university, and I was only learning how to read and write. We decided, a group of us, to start a program that could be an address for baalei teshuva and all those who want to get stronger in their Judaism in the spirit of love of the people and the land, something which did not exist at the time..." and thus Machon Meir was formed, and has become the headquarters for Religious Zionist ba’alei teshuva, their families, and many Jews in Israel and beyond.