הִנֵּה אֲנִי פֹתֵחַ אֶת-קִבְרוֹתֵיכֶם וְהַעֲלֵיתִי אֶתְכֶם מִקִּבְרוֹתֵיכֶם
עַמִּי; וְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם, אֶל-אַדְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל
This is a very symbolic week. To me, this week represents the transition between two completely opposite historical milestones, which affected the Jewish people more than any other historical event. On one hand, this past Thursday we commemorated Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Day. On the other hand, this coming Thursday, we will celebrate Yom ha’Atsmaut, the day of Independence of the State of Israel.
We Jews have suffered countless persecutions, massacres and pogroms. Everywhere and at all times. But we never suffered as in the Shoah. Both in absolute and relative terms, there was never such a devastating massacre as the Shoah. Never the Jewish people was so close to being exterminated. At one point in 1944 or 1945, when the Nazis murdered half a million Hungarian Jews in just six months, when no one dared to oppose the Third Reich, or when Rommel was preparing the gas chambers in Tunisia to transport and gas there the Jews of North Africa, Palestine, Syria, Iran and Iraq. At such times we lost all our hopes. We felt we were doomed to die or we were already dead. We were buried. It was the end.
But then the greatest miracle, promised so long ago by our prophets, happened. And in a span of just three years, which in the context of the history of our people is less than the blink of an eye, the Kibbuts Galuyot, the return to our land, began. HaShem took us out of our graves, lifted us and brought us back to Israel. And from the ashes, we the Jewish people began to revive.
More than 2500 years ago, Ezekiel (Yehezqel) had a very special prophetic vision (nebua). In this vision (Chapter 37) HaShem transported him to a valley. In that valley there were bones. Many bones. Human bones. Probably millions of bones. Dry bones. There is nothing more dead than a dry bone. Ezekiel saw it and said nothing. And then HaShem told Ezekiel: “Son of man: Do you believe that these bones will ever come alive?. And Ezekiel, in a combination of humility and surprise, replied: “HaShem, G-d, You would know that”
And then there was a deafening noise. And the bones began to move. The bones came together and skeletons were formed. And the skeletons were covered by veins and nerves and finally flesh and skin. Now, there were no longer bones but bodies. Dead human bodies. Corpses. Then HaShem said to Ezekiel, “Prophesy to these bodies to insufflate into them a breath of life ….and let the spirit of life enter into these bodies and let them live again. “And so it was. And a breath of life entered the bodies, and the bodies stood up. It was a great army, very large. And then HaShem told the prophet Ezekiel: “Son of man, these bones are the house of Israel. They say: our bones dried up, we lost our hope, we have been sentenced [to disappear]. So, I prophesy and I say to them [Israel]: Thus saith HaShem, God: behold, I will open your graves, and I will raise up from your graves, and I will bring you to the land of Israel. And it will be known that I am HaShem, when I open your graves, and brought you from them, My people. And I will grant you a spirit of life and you will live again. And I will lead you into your land. And you will know that I am HaShem. I have promised and I delivered.
It is impossible not to connect this prophecy with 1945 and 1948. In 1945 we were doomed to disappear. We were dry bornes, or perhaps worse, we were ashes. And then, when so many Goyim thought that we had disappeared, that we will never again would become a people, that all those promising prophecies will never be fulfilled, then, the greatest miracle occurred, like Ezekiel saw in the valley of the dry bones, HaShem opened our graves. He lifted us and He brought us back to Israel. He promised and he delivered.