Thursday, May 12, 2016
The Greatest Miracle
There are two things that lie at the core of of my relationship with God and Judaism. One is the personal providence that I perceive in my life, as non-rationalist as that may be. The other is the single greatest miracle in post-Biblical history: the return of the Jewish People to their ancestral homeland. An ancient nation, exiled and dispersed and massacred with the most horrific persecution in history, fulfills its ancient prophecies and returns to its homeland, to create an amazingly vibrant country and triumph against overwhelming odds.
The more that one learns about the creation of the Israel, the more miraculous it becomes. Historian Paul Johnson, in A History Of The Jews, describes the extraordinary confluence of circumstances that was necessary for it to happen, including the death of Roosevelt (who had turned anti-Zionist), and an amazing brief period in which the Soviet Union was pursuing an active pro-Zionist policy. As Johnson concludes: "Israel slipped into existence through a fortuitous window in history which briefly opened for a few months in 1947-8. That too was luck; or providence."
I recommend reading Johnson's book to learn more about all the factors that had to coincide for Israel to come into existence. I still can't quite believe that for much of my life, I did not celebrate Yom Ha-Atzma'ut. God performed one of the greatest miracles in history, to our immense benefit - how can we not celebrate it? "The ingathering of the exiles is as great as the day upon which the heaven and earth were created" (Pesachim 88a). (See Rav Eliezer Melamed's discussion at this link.)
Happy Yom Ha-Atzma'ut!
Posted by Natan Slifkin