According to the Hebrew calendar, our father Abraham entered the land of Israel in the year 1948. Now in the year 5778, close to 4,000 years have passed. In this journey of millennia, much has happened, from Egyptian slavery to Roman domination, from the tragedies of 2,000 years of European inhumanity to the return of an indigenous people to its Biblical homeland.
These millennia have not been easy. They are years punctuated by some good and much evil. The twentieth century saw the pinnacle of evil in the deaths camps that spread across Europe. Then according to the secular calendar, ironically also a year called 1948, we Jews reestablished our national independence. Seventy years ago, Jewish history changed and the years of forced exile came to an end; a new chapter of Jewish history began
Some 70 years ago and faced with the awful reality of the deaths of six million Jews and the horrors of Nazi Europe, no one would have imagined a strong vibrant Jewish nation reborn in the same land into which Abraham had entered. It was the land promised to us by G-d. Indeed, no nation on the face of the earth has ever returned to its ancestral homeland and rekindled its language after almost two thousand years of exile. To see modern Israel is to realize that Jewish history is a course in the miracle of tenacity.
Israel has its share of problems, but even a quick review of its history is to make one appreciate the wonders of G-d. Despite Israel’s lack of most natural resources and its need for constant military vigilance, it has successfully absorbed millions of Jewish refugees speaking 81 languages and coming from over 100 nations. No other nation on earth has as successfully as Israel found the way to integrate the various adot (ethnic communities) into one nation while helping each of these adot to maintain the cultural beauty from which it came.
During these last 70 years, Israel has had to develop a working infrastructure from almost nothing. Today many of Israel’s deserts are green, the land is a modern transportation system, including bullet trains connecting her ancient cities, and her citizens enjoy freedoms found in few other lands. In fact, out of over 180 Israel nations is ranked the 11th happiest nation on earth.
Known as the start-up nation, Israel is not only a vibrant democracy and a great center of scientific and medical research. Its population enjoys a pulsating cultural life. Despite these successes, Israel must guard her borders and continue the work of absorbing people from nations in which Jews live in economic danger such as Argentina and Ethiopia, or in physical danger such as in France and Russia.
How lucky each of us is to live in an age when we can see the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob become a nation once again living the Biblical prophecy of “zavat chalav udvash, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Israel then has become in the prophet’s words “Or la’goyim/a light to other nations” teaching them that to be a pessimist is to deny G-d. Israel’s independence day ought to teach each of us that to be a person of faith is to transform, through hard work, tears into laughter and sweat into sweetness. In the 19th century Theodore Herzl said it best when he stated: Im tirsu, ain zo agadah/If we will it and are willing to work hard for it, then it is no dream, surely it will become a reality. Happy Yom Ha’Atzmaut reminds us that Israel is more than an ideal; it is a reality!
Youtubes of the week:
Four videos in honor of Yom Ha’Atzmaut
The State is Proclaimed:
National Prayer for the State of Israel:
Yom Ha’Atzmaut ’70: Theme Song:
The National Anthem “Ha’Tikvah”: