As Miracles Take Flight
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein | September 23, 2016
“Who are these that fly along like clouds,
like doves to their nests?” — Isaiah 60:8
The Torah portion for this week is Ki Tavo, which means “when you have entered,” from Deuteronomy 26:1–29:8, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 60:1–22.
Nearly 3,000 years ago, the prophet Isaiah prophesied in Israel and wrote the book that bears his name. For the past month, the Haftorah readings have been taken from Isaiah as words of inspiration leading up to the High Holy Days. All the readings revolve around the messianic era. The message is an encouraging one that lets us know better times are on the way.
In this week’s reading, Isaiah said something that indicated that those better times are closer for us than we might think. He wrote: “Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests?” Nearly 800 years ago, the Jewish commentator Rabbi David Kimhi explained that this verse refers to the Jewish people who had been exiled from the land of Israel, but who would return to their homeland in the future. They would come swiftly like clouds in the sky and fly like birds returning to their nest. Three thousand years ago, Isaiah essentially prophesied the invention of flight!
I wonder how people understood these verses for thousands of years. I wonder how Jews interpreted Rabbi Kimhi’s comments for centuries. Today, we can understand clearly – we can see with our very eyes – how Jews around the world are literally flying home. And continue to do so from the four corners of the world.
What’s even more amazing is how the invention of flight parallels modern-day Zionism. As a friend of mine once put it, the Wright brothers came at the right time. In the year 1896 Theodore Herzl, regarded as the father of modern Zionism, published his book Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), in which he called for Jews to leave Europe and return to their ancestral homeland. In that very same year, there was a breakthrough in the world of aviation. Smithsonian Institution Secretary Samuel Langley successfully flew an unmanned steam-powered fixed-wing model aircraft. His success caught the attention of two brothers from Ohio, Orville and Wilbur, who subsequently requested any aviation-related information from the Smithsonian. Just as Herzl’s book paved the way for the miraculous re-birth of Israel, the information that the Wright brothers received led to the world-changing invention of flight.
We live in a very well-ordered world. God has been and continues to pave the way toward the final redemption. While Jews and Christians may differ on what that final era will look like, we can all agree that better times are on the way. We must appreciate the miraculous times that we live in and the opportunities available to us.
Join us at The Fellowship as we participate in the fulfillment of biblical prophecies daily, helping Jews from around the world return to Israel through our On Wings of Eagles ministry. We are fortunate to be alive at this point in history, and we have a responsibility to do our part in creating a better future.