Mitpe Ramon 370.
(photo credit: Arie Robinson)
Press reviews of the state of this country on its Independence Day commonly miss
the spiritual, meta-historic significance of Israel’s achievement. They tend to
calculate a balance sheet of successes and failures in defense, economy,
democracy and peacemaking, but fail to fathom the processes at work behind the
curtain of current affairs.
It’s valid to apply temporal yardsticks of
measurement to Israel, but such evaluations undershoot the deeper challenge: to
understand the resurgence of Israel in grand historical terms; to discern the
mystic movement, the divine drama – if you will, at play.
It cannot be
otherwise. There is nothing global, or even massive, about the State of Israel
in political terms. This is a small piece of earth. We Israelis are but a tiny
fraction of the human family.
In the sweep of history, there have been
greater battles, larger transfers and emigrations of populations, bigger
construction and technological projects, more eminently impressive displays of
So in secular terms, Israel is not all that a big deal. But as
vindication of spirit; as validation of tenacious faith; as proof of the Jewish
People’s, indeed humanity’s, power to overcome – Israel’s establishment and
advancement is a very big deal indeed.
History knows no parallel to the
prophecies of the Bible, which foretold the break up of a people into a thousand
pieces across the world, yet one destined to persevere for centuries and return
to their indigenous homeland.
This is a defy-all-odds saga of
metaphysical union spanning centuries between a people, their G-d, and a land.
This, wrote the late ambassador Dr. Yaakov Herzog, “is the celebration of a
nation who, at the moment of ultimate nadir, of devastating Holocaust, rose from
the ashes, armed with little more than conviction and a historical consciousness
that promised renewal, to stake claim to their ancestry. This is redemption,
“The still small voice of Israel reborn has a
significance overreaching the criterion of material capacity, extending beyond
the boundaries of geographical dimension and the gradation of international
“Israel represents a vindication of faith and prayer through the
ages; it is a symbol of revival, a message of hope, indeed a lasting evidence of
the integrity of the spirit,” Herzog said.
At the 22nd Zionist Congress
in 1946, Chaim Weizmann said: “[We] stand today six hundred thousand strong,
with steady vision and unwavering courage... drawing sustenance, spiritual and
material, from a grudging and neglected soil.... testimony to the irresistible
force which drives our people to become free men and women once again on the
land of our forefathers.”
This belief in the power of Jewish history,
animated by ancient faith, explains much about Israel today. It explains our
willingness to sacrifice so much for independence. It explains our drive to
succeed in the arts and sciences and to share our advances with the world. It
explains our attachment to Jerusalem. It explains why we sometimes stubbornly
refuse to accept rational calculations of diplomatic cost and benefit politely
impressed on us by well-meaning allies.
It explains why those who
consider history only in terms of national politics and international relations
underestimate or misjudge us. They fail to understand that Israel is guided by
an astral calculus that is not always perceptible.
Our deep sense of
historical mission blurs the lines between imagination and reality, between the
possible and the feasible.
Not everybody in this country is religious in
terms of the practice of traditional Judaism. But just about everybody is
religious in the sense of feeling part of a grand meta-historic journey that is
connected to spiritual powers and a moral heritage invested in the Jewish People
that has sustained us and returned us to the Land of Israel.
Talmud’s metaphor for the resurgence of Israel. “The Lord your God will turn
your captivity... and gather you from all the nations,” speaks Deuteronomy 30:3.
Read not “turn your captivity,” says the Talmud, but rather “return Himself”
In other words, G-d is returning to the Land of Israel
too, bit by bit, along with us. His presence in the Land of Israel, and His
protection, grows with every new immigrant stepping off the plane and every
house we build.
Regrettably, many of us seem to have lost the capacity to
think in providential terms; to discern historical movement, not momentary
difficulty; to see the forest, not the trees; to disregard the mud and focus on
On Independence Day, it is time to remind ourselves (and
our global friends) of this prophetic perspective on the meaning and success of