Remember the days of old;
consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you,
your elders, and they will explain to you. — Deuteronomy 32:7
NOTE TO READERS: 2018 is an important year for Israel and the Jewish people as we celebrate the modern State of Israel’s 70th Birthday. As we mark this momentous milestone, we are offering 70 devotions between now and April 19th, Israel’s Independence Day, tied to our Keys to Israel – six fundamental principles underlying God’s covenantal relationship with His chosen people and His Holy Land built upon the acrostic I.S.R.A.E.L. These first ten devotions provide an overview to Israel and her people.
In Deuteronomy we read, “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.” Remembering the past has always been a foundational value in Judaism.
In 1947, just after Israel had won the United Nations vote for a Jewish state, David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, said these poignant words: “When I returned to Jerusalem I saw the city happy and rejoicing, dancing in the streets and a big crowd gathering in the yard of the Jewish Agency building. I’ll admit the truth – that joy was not my lot – not because I did not appreciate the UN’s decision, but because I knew what awaited us: war with all the armies of the Arab nations.”
These chilling words were the truth. Before the dream of nationhood could be realized, there would be much war, bloodshed, and tears.
Around that same time, Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel, made a similar remark that later became famous. He said, “The state will not be given to the Jewish people on a silver platter.” He, too, realized that there would be a dear price to pay for Israel’s nationhood. Picking up on those words, Israeli poet Natan Alterman wrote a beautiful, yet heart-wrenching poem called “The Silver Platter.”
In it, he depicts a young boy and girl, dirty and exhausted from battle. As they approach, they are asked “Who are you?” They answer, “We are the silver platter on which the Jewish state was given.” The poem concludes, “Thus they will say and fall back in shadows. And the rest will be told in the chronicles of Israel.”
During this year, when we celeberate Israel’s 70th birthday, we remember those young men and women who sacrificed their lives so that we could have a homeland. We honor those who became the “silver platter” on which our state was given to us. We bring them out of the shadows of the past and tell their stories again and again so we don’t forget the sacrifices that were made so that Israel can live..
Let us pray that no other lives need be sacrificed to ensure the freedom, the security, and the peace, shalom, we all deserve.
For more information on our Keys to I.S.R.A.E.L. resources visit www.ifcj.org/keystoisrael.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President