Thank God for Israel!!
At 4:00 pm on Friday, Iyar 5th, 5708 (May 15th, 1948), David Ben Gurion (who would be the first Prime Minister of the new state) stood in the Tel Aviv Museum (today known as Independence Hall) and opened the ceremony to which about 250 guests were in attendance – by invitation only. The group spontaneously sang Hatikvah – which soon became Israel’s national anthem. Behind Ben Gurion hung a large picture of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, flanked by Israeli flags – which were soon adopted as official. Ben Gurion announced to the crowd, “I shall now read to you the scroll of the Establishment of the State…”. The full reading took about 16 minutes and ends with the words, PLACING OUR TRUST IN THE “ROCK OF ISRAEL”, WE AFFIX OUR SIGNATURES TO THIS PROCLAMATION. Ben Gurion concluded by saying, “Let us accept the Foundation Scroll of the Jewish State by rising” and calling on Rabbi
Fishman to recite the Shehecheyanu blessing. After the last of the signatories of the Declaration had signed, the audience again stood and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra played the “Hatikvah”, the Israeli national anthem, ( הַתִּקְוָה ) which literally means ‘the Hope’. Ben-Gurion concluded the event with the words “The State of Israel is established! This meeting is adjourned!”
Sunday at the local Yom HaShoah ceremony in my city, one of the Rabbi’s present again reminded everyone that Jewish people always take their past with them forward into the present. [I mentioned this in last week’s Nugget, and the same Rabbi mentioned it again this year.] He gave the example of the children of Israel taking the bones of Joseph with them as they left Egypt. And so on the day of the re-birth of the nation, there were so many reminders of Israel’s past going all the way back to the time of the Bible. For example, the Declaration was a three-part scroll (Heb: מגילה – Megillah). This was a clear and strong picture of the connection between modern Israel and its ancient past in the time of the Bible since all of the books of the תנך – T’nakh (Old Testament) were written in Hebrew on scrolls. The very first paragraph of the Declaration begins: ERETZ-ISRAEL (Heb: אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל) – the Land of Israel, was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books (the Bible).
Israeli Independence Day is called Yom HaAtzma’ut
( יום העצמאות ). The root of this Hebrew word HaAtzma’ut is etsem ( עצם ) and has several meanings: “bone, substance, matter, essence or core of something or someone.” The Hebrew word atsma’ut (עצמאות), meaning ‘independence’, comes from atsmi which means one’s own personal being and bones. This gives new meaning to the Ezekiel 37 passage on ‘the valley of dry bones’ (which was partly fulfilled on this day) since the Hebrew root etsem is part of both the word ‘bone’ and the word for ‘independence’!
Israel is the only nation that God created and this goes back to the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3) What nation EVER died and then revived after 2,000 years? Only Israel! What language EVER died in common use and then revived after 2,000 years? Only Hebrew! The language of Israel and the Jewish people. Read the history of the War for Independence, and actually, all of the history of ‘Modern Israel’ since 1948, and you will find plenty of miracles. Israel’s first prime minister, David ben Gurion said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.” Actually, according to the prophet Jeremiah (16:14-16), the first Passover and the exodus from Egypt was a small miracle compared to the rebirth of the nation which we have seen in this generation. Truly, the People of the Book have returned home!