Independence and Skeletons

To understand the deep importance of Yom HaAtzmaut ( Israel’s Independence day), one needs to learn to connect the dots. Understanding Jewish history in general and perceiving Jewish destiny in particular necessitates the understanding that nothing in our reality happens by happenstance. Truth can only be comprehended by connecting the end to the beginning and vice versa. That axiom is inherent in the Hebrew word for truth, Emet, which begins with the first letter of the alphabet and ends with the last.

It is not surprising then that even the date of Israel’s independence was not simply based on the whim of one leader or another .Yom HaAtzmaut is integrally related to the holiday of Passover and especially to the seventh day of Passover, when the Israelites crossed the Reed Sea. Rabbi Shlomo Goren zts”l revealed the following based on the ancient mystical cipher called At-Bash. The system involves taking the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and switching with the last letter, and then the second letter with the second to last letter, and so forth.

Based on this At-Bash system it was found that whichever day of the week the first (aleph) day of Passover lands that will be the day that that the holiday starting with the last letter of the alphabet (tav) will land. For generations, this system worked for every day of Passover except for the seventh. The seventh letter in the Hebrew alphabet, zayin, corresponds to the letter ayin. Rabbi Goren showed how the word atzmaut or “independence”, which begins with letter ayin, solved the dilemma.

Whichever day of the week is the seventh day of Passover is also the day of the week on which Yom HaAtzmaut falls. The same spiritual power of entering the raging sea and having it miraculously open for them, was the spiritual power that give nascent Israel’s leaders the ability to declare the impossible and the state of Israel was then born “in a day”.

I sense that there is another similarity related to the name of this special day that may also carry great significance. The Hebrew word Atzmaut( Independence) sounds very similar to the word Atzamot which means “Bones”. That eerie similarity, I believe is not happenstance either.

On 29, 1945 April General Linden, Assistant Division Commander of the 42d Division, General Banfill of the Eight Air Force, and General Linden’s aide, Lt. Cowling, and guards and drivers entered the Dachau concentration camp. The following is an excerpt from a letter Lt. Cowling sent to his family ;

“When we entered the gate not a soul was in sight. Then suddenly people (few could call them that) came from all directions. They were dirty, starved skeletons with torn tattered clothes and they screamed and hollered and cried. They ran up and grabbed us, myself and the newspaper people and kissed our hands, our feet and all of them tried to touch us. ”

We read of a very dramatic prophecy in the book of Ezekiel ” The hand of HaShem came upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of HaShem, and set me down in the midst of the valley, and that was full of bones……And He said to me, …”Therefore prophesy, and say unto them: Thus said *HaShem* G-d: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:1,4,9)

And they came.

They came out of the ovens of Auschwitz and from the ravaged fields of the Ukraine. They came wounded, hurting and alone, yet they came. “ and I will bring you into the land of Israel.” Ibid ;12). They came and established a state and immediately went to war as independent soldiers fighting for their home. These skeletons and rugged bones ( Atzamot) were covered with sinews , flesh and strength and were integral in bringing forth Israel’s Independence ( Atzmaut ).

On this Yom Haatzmaut I will be again attaching a large flag on my balcony and attaching a smaller one to my car. I have always felt it important to wave that flag in the neighborhood where I live, where so many of my neighbors act as if there is no state of Israel, and in the Old City where I work, where so many of my neighbors would like to ensure that there will be no state of Israel. I find myself moved whenever I do that. That is so because before my eyes I have this vision of battered skeletal looking humans being filled with strength and vigor and looking at these waving flags with eyes that simply know a truth that many of us have forgotten.

Yet I am also aware that the process of Ezekiel’s vision has not ended its unfolding as I see greater segments of this people turning inward and upward. As the world around us falls into disarray and the dangers seem to be growing this nation seems to be experiencing a growing sense of inner peace and determination.The bones , sinews and flesh are being filled with increased spirit and vision.

” And I will put My spirit into you, and you shall live, and I will set you on your land, and you shall know that I, HaShem, have spoken it and have performed it,” says HaShem “(ibid:14). Hag HaAtzmaut Sameach

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