YOM HAATZMAUT: What did Isaiah see?


מִי-אֵלֶּה, כָּעָב תְּעוּפֶינָה; וְכַיּוֹנִים, אֶל-אֲרֻבֹּתֵיהֶם



The Tora predicted that the Jewish people would be exiled to all corners of the planet (Deut. 29), and also anticipated that the Jewish people will eventually return to the land of Israel (Deut. 30). The prophet Isaiah (Yesha’yahu) described in prophetic and poetic words how the return of the Jewish people to their land will take place.

Addressing the Land of Israel, Yesha’yahu said, (60: 4) “Your sons will come from distant lands, and your daughters, carried on the shoulders [of their parents] ...”. In this context he also said (60 “8): “There will be those [who will come to Israel] flying like clouds, and others [flying] as doves to their nests. “


Rabbi Simcha Kook, chief rabbi of Rehovot, explained to me why Yesha’yahu used in his prophecy the motifs “clouds” and “doves”. Clouds and doves, he said, represent two extremes in terms of movement. Clouds do not control their movements. Clouds do not move; they are moved by the winds. If the wind blows from north to south, the clouds will be heading south, and vice versa. And when there is no wind, the clouds would stay where they are.

On the other hand, doves have an extraordinary, unique sense of orientation, a biological GPS, still a mystery to science (see this), that no other bird has. This is not a sense of migratory orientation. It is an instinct of direction that allows pigeons to return specifically to their nest from anywhere in the world, even if they are thousands of miles away from it. This is why for centuries pigeons were used to send messages from one place to another. When someone traveled from point A to point B, he would carry pigeons that were born and raised in point A. Then, no matter how far away B of A, the doves always find their way back to their nest.

Now we can understand what the prophet Yesha’yahu was saying and seeing. When the people of Israel would come back to their land,  there will be those who, like clouds, would “fly” (that was the verb of choice of Yesha’yahu) to Israel, driven and moved by “winds”. There are many types of winds: political winds, financial winds, winds of anti-Semitism, etc. To Yesha’yahu all these are “divine” winds which will bring these Yehudim back to their homeland.

On the other hand, there will be Jews who, like pigeons, would come to Israel driven by an internal GPS,. They will fly to Israel as one who returns home, to his nest. While clouds are pushed by winds, pigeons, to reach their nest, sometimes have to fly against the wind.

Eventually, BH, all Jews will return to Israel. If not us,  our children or grandchildren. We will all meet again in the land of Israel, fulfilling the prophecy of the Tora. But still, we must choose how we want to get there: like clouds or like pigeons.