We are entering the days of celebration for the establishment of the State of Israel, followed three weeks later by the day celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem. Around us, the world gathers their weapons and brandishes their swords at us and at each other . Those in the world who claim to be our friends attempt to batter this nuisance called Israel into a more manageable pest. Those that claim to be our leaders seem to be unsure how to move forward
There are those that look around them and wonder: Is there anything to really celebrate? There are others that smile smugly an declare: “We told you people all along that you were wrong to support and sanctify this secular state.” There are those who celebrate military victories and miss G-d’s hand in all those victories.
Yet there are many of us who will rejoice on these days and will declare with unhesitant faith the Shehecheyanu blessing: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us in life, sustained us and brought us to this moment.”
Moshe Rabbeinu ( Moses) is the man who walked between Heaven and Earth. He is the man who spoke to G-d as men speak to each other, panim el panim, that is to say, “face to face.” This is the man who walked into the fiery mountain and felt the Glory of G- d pass over him. This man at the end of his life had but one request, one final plea (Deuteronomy 3: 24-25):
And I beseeched HaShem at that time, saying: “O HaShem G- d, Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness, and Thy strong hand; for what god is there in Heaven or on Earth that can do according to Thy works, and according to Thy mighty acts? Let me go over, I pray Thee, and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that goodly hill-country, and Lebanon.”
In order to emphasize his passionate plea, our sages declare that he prayed this plea 515 times, a number equivalent to the gematria (numerical equivalent) of the word Va’etchanan (“and I beseeched”).
What would Moshe have given in order to stand in one of those never-ending lines in the government offices? What would he have sacrificed to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the young people settling the hilltops of Judea and Samaria? What joy would he have had to taste the sweet fruit of the land he so yearned for? That yearning was so great that he was ready to postpone his entry into the bliss of the World to Come. All in order that he could “see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that goodly hill-country, and Lebanon.”
Moshe knew his people and sensed clearly what the future held for them. He knew the arrogance and difficulties that would overcome them. Yet, he wanted to share that future with them.
What of us – those who have merited to be born in such a generation as this? We who have seen how from the ashes of Auschwitz and the slaughterhouse of Europe rose the “dry bones” as foretold in Ezekiel 37. Painstakingly these dry bones began to wear flesh, sinews and skin (37: 4-6).
It was this generation that witnessed how, with the culmination of the Six Day War in June 1967 and the miraculous victory of the Jews over their Muslim enemies, the holy city of Jerusalem was reunited: “Jerusalem that is built like a city, in which all is united together.” (Psalms 122:3)
It is those of us who live in Israel today that watched the Divine plan continue to unfold; and the streets and squares of Jerusalem were once again filled with children playing, exactly as Zachariah prophesied: “Thus says the L-rd of hosts: old men and old women shall yet again dwell in the streets of Jerusalem…. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets.” (Zechariah 8:4-5)
It is those of us who live in this great land that can wonder if in fact some of the children that Zechariah saw could have been our very own.
A barren corner of the Middle East began to bloom and flower. A land seemingly cursed as uninhabitable and forsaken began to blossom, reaching out to welcome its children back home, just as we read in the prophecies of Ezekiel: “But you O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they will soon be coming.” (Ezekiel 36:8)
As we today eat the sweet fruits of this land and marvel at how good they taste, we must remember that we are not eating mere fruits, but are actually eating a prophecy that has been fulfilled.
As history moved into the last decade of the twentieth century, the Iron Curtain that surrounded the Communist countries of Eastern Europe and Soviet Russia collapsed. And suddenly the hidden Jews from the former Soviet Union began returning home to the Land of Promise:
Therefore behold, days are coming when it will no longer be said. “As the L-rd lives, Who took out the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt,” but rather, “As the L-rd lives, Who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the North, and from all the lands to which He had driven them;” and I shall return them to their land, which I gave to their forefathers. (Jeremiah 16:14-15)
We who have seen all this, can we dare not rejoice? How can we explain not lifting our voices in song and praise? There is yet much more to do and much more to fix and repair .It is a fact that this Heavenly gift is still unformed and is still covered with unsightly husks and coverings. Yet underneath lies a glorious gift, a gift from G-d. We cannot stand back and watch and wait for the gift to be ready and pleasing .We must begin to unwrap it with singing and Hallel. We need to do that for those who are not here with us, because they never ceased their yearning over two thousand years of history.
We need to do it for Moshe Rabbeinu because, more than any other human, he foresaw this wondrous gift called the reborn State of Israel.