How strange it seems! These Hebrews in their graves,
Close by the street of this fair seaport town,
Silent beside the never-silent waves,
At rest in all this moving up and down!
But ah! what once has been shall be no more!
The groaning earth in travail and in pain
Brings forth its races, but does not restore,
And the dead nations never rise again.
The Jewish Cemetery at Newport - Longfellow
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and the LORD carried me out in a spirit, and set me down in the midst of the valley, and it was full of bones
And He said unto me: 'Son of man, can these bones live?' And I answered: 'O Lord GOD, Thou knowest.
Then He said unto me: 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say: Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.
Therefore prophesy, and say unto them: Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.
Human beings quickly learn to take things for granted. 75 years ago the prospect of a Jewish state was as likely as a city on the moon. There were those who busily worked, agitated and struggled for it, but to the majority of Jews it was a distant dream. And yet as in a dream it exists. It is a matter of a plane ride for a Jew anywhere in the world to arrive there and walk its streets.
Most people think of miracles as entities of smoke and flames. As insubstantial things you cannot see or touch. The incredible and the unbelievable. But those are wonders. Miracles are everyday things whose wonder is difficult to hold in your mind. The tree that shades the lane. The sun that shines above. A state built out of the ruins of fallen empires rising like a green shoot in springtime to the light.
Now that the State of Israel exists too many take it for granted. Others have unknowingly slipped into the narrative crafted by our enemies, whose goal is to portray the State as a terrible burden, both for the Jews and for everyone else. A burden that is best dismantled.
Miracles after all are not supposed to exist and people react badly to them. When the Jews multiplied in miraculous numbers in Egypt, Pharaoh shuddered and brought out the chains and whips and murdered their children. When G-d threw open the gates of Egypt, still he pursued them into the very sea.
When millions of slaves walked out into the desert, nations plotted against them and peoples struck at them. As Pharaoh had before him, the Moabite King proclaimed darkly, that they cover the face of the land. For he too was a Pharaoh. Though their names and countries might changed. They were all Pharaohs at heart. For thousands of years, The Country That Should Not Have Been, struggled against pagan invaders. And when Israel finally fell and the Jews became exiles, they became The People That Should Not Have Been.
For two thousand years, the two world religions that had taken their inspiration from the religion of the Jews did their best to grind the very people into whose well of beliefs they had dipped their buckets-- to dust. For a thousand years the voices of the world that weren't advocating ghettos and Pharaoh's whip and the Inquisition's stake, whispered eagerly that the only possible way for the Jews was assimilation. To mingle with the rest of the world and vanish forever.
Arnold Toynbee proclaimed that the Jewish people were the fossils of history. And then the fossils rose again. The cemeteries disgorged their dead. A nation composed of farmers and Holocaust survivors stood off the armies of the Jordanian Legion and that of five Arab nations, each of which was many times larger than Israel. And at the end a blue and white flag waved over a new land.
Within a decade that land was bursting with productivity and industry. With settled cities and great works. With toil and labor and art and song. A land that had once been a pile of stones and dust. A relic of history had become new again. And at the wall of the temple, priests who were the descendants of Aaron raised their hands once more to bless the people. "May the Lord bless you and keep you." And he had.