Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai was one of the sages of the second century. He lived during a period when Israel had fallen under Roman occupation, and when there was a great longing for the Jewish people to be returned to their homeland.
Rabbi Shimon declared that “the land of Israel can be acquired only through the trials of deprivation and hardship.” He contended that only those prepared and willing to suffer for the redemption of the Holy Land will be privileged to taste the sweetness of its independence and freedom.
As we Americans observe Independence Day, we recall that independence and human rights are never easily gained or maintained. And perhaps it really is true: that only those who persist in the struggle for justice and human liberties can ever really appreciate the independence and freedoms for which America stands. For those who persisted in the struggle for equality for women, and who still persist, for those who persist in the struggle for equality and justice for Americans of all races, nationalities and religions, and for those who persist in their quest for equality and justice for our gay population—may we all “taste the sweetness” and promise that is this Independence Day weekend. Yes, America was intended to be a “holy” land also.