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61 Years Ago Today, the Hope Was Realized as Ben Gurion Reads the Declaration of of the state of Israel declaration of the state of Tel Aviv on the 5th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, 5708 (May 14, 1948). This year, the 5th of Iyar begins on April 28th at sundown:
The nascent Jewish people had just crossed the Reed Sea. They had just seen the Hand of God split the sea after delivering ten harsh plagues against the Egyptians. The first thing they did after crossing the waters was complain, they hated the food, there was not enough water, on and on. No wonder the Torah keeps talking about us as a stiff-necked people. That was almost 3,500 hundred years ago and we never stopped complaining. Its kind of the national pastime of the Jewish people (along with worrying and guilt). Israelis have turned this pastime into an art. If you listen to many Israelis, the country is going to hell in a hand basket but the fact is when annual quality of life polls are taken, the positive scores from Israelis are into the 90th percentile. You see, for all of its faults, Life in Israel is pretty amazing.
When we think of the Jewish State, we tend to look at its sixty plus year battle for survival, or its biblical landmarks. Since its establishment, the State of Israel, has been a world leader in science and engineering. Israeli scientists have contributed in the areas of genetics, medicine, agriculture, computer sciences, electronics, optics, engineering and other high-tech industries.
As a dry land, Israel has pioneered in advanced agricultural technology such as water-conserving irrigation methods, anaerobic digestion, salinity research, enriched compost, irrigation, and enhanced genetic engineered crops. Israel also has a high reputation in theoretical physics. Israeli physicists tend to deal more with theoretical and conceptual aspects of physics, especially in questions of time and space, and the paradoxes and strange phenomena of quantum mechanics.
Israel is also known for its well-developed and revolutionary medicine. Israel medical researchers and surgeons have worldwide reputation, in searching for new cures as well in high technology and reliability. Recently, a group of researchers from the Weizmann Institute developed a molecular biocomputer to assist in cancer research. And many of the technology you use to surf the net, AIM for example, were developed in Israe.
One of the first things I noticed when I saw Israel was the trees. For over one hundred years, Jews have been planting trees on the land. In fact Israel is the only land that has more trees today than it did at the turn of the century.
Trees also show the difference between Israel and her neighbors. You see, the second thing I noticed is that you can tell were the boarder between Israel and her neighbors are, its where the forests stop. If only Israel’s Muslim neighbors spent as much time on planting forests as Israel does, this world would be much more peaceful.
It may still be done, but miners used to hang an canary cage in coal mines, not as a pet but as a check on the air quality. If the canary dies it means its time to get the heck out of the mine. In a way, Israel has acted as the worlds canary in the coal mine when it comes to Islamic fascism and terrorism. Israel has been fighting the world wide caliphate for over 61 years, during most of that period the western world’s leaders have been appeasing terrorists. God-Forbid if Israel “dies” in the coal mine, so will most of the free world.
The battle for Israel’s birth began 61 years ago, but there are those who say the modern state of Israel wasn’t born in 1948. The state created in 1948 had no Hebron and no Jerusalem, these two cities represent Judaism’s heart and soul. Jews have been the Majority in the City of Jerusalem even during the 2000 years there was no Jewish State. Hebron is the birthplace of the Jewish homeland where Abraham first bought land. Sadly we were forced out of that holy city in 1929, after the residents were massacred by the local Muslim community. We have been kept out since 1967 by the Israeli Governent.
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.
I never really understood those words till I experienced the Joy of the Holy City of Jerusalem.
As soon as we drove through the hills and I got my my first peek at Jerusalem, for the first time in my life I felt comfortable in my surroundings. For me Jerusalem felt like home, despite the fact that I had never been there in my life. The strange part is I knew where to go and how to get around this holy city without looking at a map. There were times that I would tell my family that I had a shortcut to travel where we needed to go, and my wife who had been to Israel before would tell me I was crazy (true but irrelevant)—I was always correct. Everywhere I went, I knew where we were and its relation to the Temple Mount. And to be honest the lure of the Temple site was stronger in Israel than ever before.
Now at this point, anyone reading this who has never been to Israel is probably calling for the guy with the straight jackets to take me away. But ask anyone who has been there (anyone who believes in God) and see if they felt any different.
On our second day in Jerusalem, we were finally going to the Kotel (the Western retaining wall of the the Temple Mount which housed the Holy Temples), which with rare exceptions is the closest any Jewish or Christian tourist can get to the Temple Mount (Israel only allows Musims on the mount to pray). The whole family got up early, I packed up my Tallit and T’fillin and took off with our guide into the Old City. Yossi, our wonderful guide took us all over the Old City, He knew how important the going to the Kotel was to me, yet rather than go directly to it he teased me with, “Its right over that wall, we will see this movie first, lets go to the burnt house etc” I was getting very frustrated, but he was masterfully building up my expectations. Finally we walked down the wooden stairway and walked through the gate of the Kotel Plaza, I was overwhelmed by emotions that I had never felt before.
All my life I felt this longing to go to the Kotel to and I finally knew why. You see, everywhere else you go in Israel, you feel the presence of all that has gone on before you, Dovid HaMelech (King David), the twelve tribes, the two kingdoms and on and on. That is about culture and history. When you visit the Kotel it is about God. It is about being able to feel the lingering presence of the Shekhinah that has been gone for two thousand years.
That’s when I learned that today’s dispute over the Temple Mount was all political, all about delegitimizing the Jewish presence in Jerusalem. Because I was there. And with my ten year old son holding my T’fillin bag, I celebrated my life long dream, I wrapped the T’fillin around my arm, placed it on my head wrapped my Tallit around my son and me, and prayed to my maker. But it felt like much more than praying when I was at the Kotel, Those words of Hebrew seemed to have meaning like never before. I was it was connecting. Connecting with the God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yakov.
That “urge” I had felt all my life, was more like an invitation from my Maker, “Come Visit so we can talk.”And while God is everywhere, for some reason only a Rabbi can explain, I could feel his presence much stronger at the Temple Mount.
There–that’s it, that’s my proof. Nothing scientific, nothing that will work in a court of law, or in an international dispute, I felt this strong connection to the Lord at the Kotel. There is not another place in the entire would that has even come close. Why did I feel the connection? Why Do So many others?
If ANYONE doubts me, I urge you to pack up your prayer tools and take a trip to Israel. When you arrive go to the Kotel put on your tallit and t’fillin and feel that connection for yourself. I guarantee it will change you forever. It changed me and my family.
Israel, 61 years young, born again after almost two thousand years. The Jewish people are unique, we are both a faith and a nation. No other nation would have survived that length of time without a land to call home. Some people say it is possible to be a Jew without being a Zionist, that is impossible. God promised us this little patch of desert long before we became a true people. Love of that land is one of the things that has kept us together as a people since Avraham.
Baruch Atah Hashem, Elokaynu Melech Haolam, Shehecaynu v’key’manu v’higi-amu la-zman hazeh.
Praised are you our God, who rules the universe, granting us life, sustaining us and enabling us to reach this day.
As long as deep in the heart,
The soul of a Jew yearns,
And forward to the East
To Zion, an eye looks
Our hope will not be lost,
The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free nation in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.