Sunday, December 6, 2009

Every Jew has been to Israel

The Jewish holy celebration of Chanukah is a time of remembrance of the Maccabees family liberating the Land of Israel from the control of the remnant of the Alexander the Great Empire that had become the Seleucid Empire part of the split.

In the age of the Seleucid Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes sided with the Hellenized Jews over the Traditionalist Jews. The Maccabees became the champion of the Traditionalists who eventually won the day and gave the Seleucids the boot from the Land of Israel.

It is the tradition of putting a Traditionalist High Priest over the Temple and rededicating the Temple in which Chanukah has its origins. Oil for the Hanukiah lamp was scarce because the Greeks had defiled it. There was only enough oil for one day. The miracle is that the one day’s worth of oil lasted eight days. Hence the important purpose of Chanukah.

I am fairly certain I gave an unsatisfactory description of Chanukah but I was making an effort to be brief.

I wrote all this because of a post sent to SlantRight by Norma Zager. Zager writes of the near spiritual connection to Eretz (Land of) Israel of every Jew even if they have never been to the Land. Zager wraps up her essay with a Chanukah association.

JRH 12/6/09
Every Jew has been to Israel

By Norma Zager
Sent: 12/4/2009 1:23 PM

A recent comment by an Israeli diplomat had me thinking. He was amused by the fact I write so often and passionately about Israel despite never having visited the country myself.

At first I agreed it was odd perhaps, yet after some consideration, I decided it was not at all extraordinary.

Every Jew is a citizen and resident of Eretz Yisrael and whether present in body or spirit, has shed blood for the Jewish Homeland.

I need not stand on a mountain to know the Golan Heights is a paradise, fertile and blossoming with fruit.

My mind’s eye can see the Sea of Galilee surrounded with mountains and travel to the oases of the Negev.

Jewish people can stand anywhere in the world and shed tears of pain before the Wailing Wall as the suffering of our people engulfs their spirit.

Must a Jew walk inside Yad Vashem to mourn his ancestors and channel his anguish? It is all part of why, who and what we are, and what all Jews must do.

Every Jew has been to Israel and shares a bond cast in the blood of generations. Each pogrom, murder, torture and hateful deed has been passed down from parent to child in an endless stream of wisdom and determination.

Israel is forged with the heat of persecution and alienation that created a people determined to stand firm upon their own ground, flowing not only with milk and honey, but also with the blood of those who came before and their promise of life to us.

It is impossible to understand a Jewish mindset unless it exists within you. We are a strange people who have avoided the temptation to cast off the past and forget. We shun our own who color our heritage or diminish our suffering.

Jews don’t comprehend compromise. We have given enough to get to where we stand today, in Eretz Yisrael, and have no more left to place on the bargaining table.

We can no longer exist if we give in to those who attempt to extract one more ounce of our blood.

We have appeased, accepted and allowed ourselves to be bent to the point of breaking, yet our spirit bounces back firm and upright from each wind of war.

Our enemies have been the most powerful throughout the ages, yet they fail. We are in danger from no culture save our own. This is a truth we accepted long ago.

Every Jew has been to Israel. It is as much a part of our DNA as our blood type.

We cannot escape and that is our frustration: No matter how far we travel from Israel, we are always there.

Misunderstood, feared and maligned, we persevere. We create, invent and contribute in the midst of battle. Never at peace, always at peril yet the creative process thrives even as war rages, threatening our very existence.

Israelis continue to forge new avenues in medicine, science and technology as guns blaze outside their think tanks and universities.

This collective wisdom draws from Jewish minds throughout every corner of the earth, flowing as an unstoppable force into the spirit of creation.

Shalom Asch said, “The sword conquered for a while, but the spirit conquers for ever!” This may explain why no army in history has been able to crush the Jewish people.

Israel lives in every Jew. The spirit of knowledge, discovery and exploration is ingrained in every soul and in the very soil of the land of Israel.

When a Jew stands in the homeland she can connect with the eternal spirit to create and forge new discoveries.

It is this divine connection that draws the Jewish people home.

It is the very sacred ground of Israel to which we must go. No matter how long we are separated from our homeland, we always return.

It is not material gifts Jewish people share, but a collective consciousness.

In Israel we are one mind, one nation, one heart too great and powerful for any evil to defeat. The best have tried and will again, but they will always fail.

Every Jew has been to Israel and their spirit is part of the powerful army that conquers all enemies.

No matter how far from Israel Jewish people travel, they are always there, and the power of their presence is a force that no evil can overcome or ever destroy.

There is a wonderful joke about Jewish holidays that says, “every Jewish holiday is about the same thing. They tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat.”

Now at Chanukah, when we remember the brave Maccabee warriors who saved our people from oppression and slaughter, let us all stop and send the spirit of hope and strength to our people Israel. It seems we again need this collective spirit to defeat our enemies. And as always before, we shall once more.

In the series “Postcards from Israel,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from home. Israel and the United States are inter-related - the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts - and so is this “point - counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become a part of our lives. Feel free to share with others.

Postcards from Home
, December, 2009

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