Learning Hebrew Online - The Return to Zion

By Shira Choen-Regev - The HebrewOnline Team

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Shalom friends,

Everyone has dreams: a dream for a better life, for freedom, for self-fulfillment, for prosperity; a dream of living in your dream-home, for having loved ones around you. Dreams! 

in some cases, many people share the same dream. They can be scattered around the world and carry the same dream for many generations. They may be told that it is impossible, that their dreams are like a fairytale and will never come true. They may even believe this to be true. But, somewhere, deep in their heart, they know that this dream should become a reality, and that they should make it happen. They keep it in their prayers, they look back to times in history when their dreams were fulfilled and draw strength from the past.

This is the dream of the Return to Zion.

This term was first coined after the destruction of the Second Temple (mentioned in the Song of Degrees), and referred to the event in which the Jews returned to the Land of Israel from the Babylonian exile, following Cyrus's Declaration (הַצְהָרַת כֹּרֶשׁ, hatsharat Koresh) in 538 BC. 

The biblical meaning of "The Return to Zion", was later on borrowed from the ancient event and was adapted to the modern-era fulfillment of the dream of Jews scattered around the world to return to the Land of Israel.

On March 2010 HebrewOnline will host a three-session seminar about the modern Return to Zion – dream and reality. In this seminar, the internationally acclaimed expert Neil Lazarus will examine Herzl’s dream, as well as other Zionist dreamers and thinkers. He will look into the events that pushed this dream into fulfillment after 2000 years of exile. And what happens when a dream turns into reality – is it the final stage or actually a beginning of a new stage, a new dream?

Please join our seminar and learn more about the Return to Zion. In the meantime, you may learn some related words, phrases and verses in this Newsletter.

חֲלוֹמוֹת נְעִימִים!
Xalomot Ne’imi  m!
Pleasant dreams!

שִׁירָה כֹּהֵן-רֶגֶב
by Shira Choen-Regev
The HebrewOnline Team

Weekly Words:

שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן
Transcription:  shivat tsiyon
Translation: Return to Zion
Part of speech: construct state

Transcription:  tsiyonut
Translation: Zionism
Part of speech: Noun, feminine

Transcription:  xalom
Translation: dream
Part of speech: Noun, masculine

Transcription:  metsi’ut
Translation: reality
Part of speech: Noun, feminine

Transcription:  tikva
Translation: hope
Part of speech: Noun, feminine

The Song of Ascents   שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת
Psalms 126   תְּהִלִּים קכ"ח

שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת:
בְּשׁוּב יְהוָה, אֶת שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן
הָיִינוּ, כְּחֹלְמִים.

A Song of Ascents.
When the LORD brought back those that returned to Zion,
we were like unto them that dream.

אָז יִמָּלֵא שְׂחוֹק, פִּינוּ 
וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה.
אָז, יֹאמְרוּ בַגּוֹיִם   
הִגְדִּיל יְהוָה, לַעֲשׂוֹת עִם-אֵלֶּה.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
and our tongue with singing.
then said they among the nations:
'The LORD hath done great things with these.'
הִגְדִּיל יְהוָה, לַעֲשׂוֹת עִמָּנוּ
הָיִינוּ שְׂמֵחִים.    
The LORD hath done great things with us;
we rejoiced.
שׁוּבָה יְהוָה, אֶת-שבותנו (שְׁבִיתֵנוּ) כַּאֲפִיקִים בַּנֶּגֶב.

Turn our captivity, O LORD,
as the streams in the dry land.

הַזֹּרְעִים בְּדִמְעָה
בְּרִנָּה יִקְצֹרוּ. 

They that sow in tears
shall reap in joy.

הָלוֹךְ יֵלֵךְ, וּבָכֹה   
נֹשֵׂא מֶשֶׁךְ-הַזָּרַע:
בֹּא-יָבֹא בְרִנָּה
נֹשֵׂא, אֲלֻמֹּתָיו. 

Though he goeth on his way weeping that beareth the measure of seed,
he shall come home with joy,
bearing his sheaves.

You can listen to Chanan Yovel singing this psalm to the music of  Pinchas Minkovsky or Yosa’le Rosenblat here.


Return to Zion Phrases

At the conclusion of the Yom Kippur prayers and at the conclusion of the Passover Seder, Jewish people pray and express their wish to return to Zion, to Jerusalem. The Passover story reminds us that the return to our land happened once, but could happen again, if not this year, then in the year to come.

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם
Leshana haba’a biyrushalayim
Next year in Jerusalem

The Western Wall in Jerusalem

Picture: Alon Konortov

Theodor Herzl (בִּנְיָמִין זְאֵב הֶרְצְל ‎, Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl( (1860-1904) was  the dreamer, founder, and the father of modern Zionism. He is known as the “Visionary of the State” (חוֹזֶה הַמְּדִינָה, xoze hamedina).

In 1902 he published a Novel devoted to Zionism “Altneuland” (Old New Land). On the cover of this book he wrote in German what had become the motto of the Zionist movement: “Wenn ihr wollt, ist es kein Märchen” (If you will it, it is no fairytale) or in Hebrew:

 אִם תִּרְצוּ, אֵין זוֹ אַגָּדָה
Im tirtsu, eyn zo agada

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