Motti Wilhelm

Israel at 3,761

Women praying at The Kotel, between 1898 and 1946. (G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection/Library of Congress)
Women praying at The Kotel, between 1898 and 1946. (G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection/Library of Congress)

One of the most damaging things that can be done to Israel is to call it 76 years old. Inferring that Israel was founded in 1948 CE fuels the myth that the country was colonized by European Jews and granted to them as a placation for the Holocaust.

Headlines like “Israel at 76” are inaccurate and offensive. Inaccurate, as they do not reflect the 4,000 years of Jewish connection with the land, and offensive because they erase the sacrifice of millions of Jews to preserve that connection.

In the mid-18th century Pale of Settlement, before a woman would light Shabbat candles, she would place a coin she worked to save all week in a Tzedakah box to support Jewish life in Israel.

In 1798, the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, was transferring so much money to the people in Israel that the Czar’s government charged him with supporting a foreign entity.

In 1538, there was such a renaissance of Jewish life in Israel that Rabbi Jacob Berab of Safed attempted to reestablish a Sanhedrin.

In 1204, Maimonides was buried in Tiberias in accordance with the request he made in his will.

The problem is that we are counting from the wrong 1948!

Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Eight years after the creation of the world, the first Jew Abraham was born. At the age of 75, Hashem told him, “Go from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house, [and go] to the land that I will show you.” Upon his arrival, the Creator said, “To your descendants, I will give this land.”

Since that day, 3,761 years ago, our people have been bound up with this small parcel of land at the crossroads of the universe. That is the land the Creator brought our forefather to and inexplicably bound our people and purpose with.

“From Zion Torah shall come forth,” says the Prophet. It is from there the light and message of our people are to shine.

For nearly 4,000 years, we were either there or trying to get back there.

Let’s change the headlines to Israel at 3,761. Isn’t that why we are so connected there anyhow?

About the Author
Rabbi Motti Wilhelm received his diploma of Talmudic Studies from the Rabbinical College of Australia & New Zealand in 2003 and was ordained as a rabbi by the Rabbinical College of America and Israel’s former chief Rabbi Mordecha Eliyahu in 2004. He was the editor of Kovetz Ohelei Torah, a respected Journal of Talmudic essays. He lectures on Talmudic Law, Medical Ethics and a wide array of Jewish subjects and has led services in the United States, Canada, Africa and Australia. His video blog Rabbi Motti's Minute is highly popular as are his weekly emails. Rabbi Wilhelm and his wife Mimi lead Chabad SW Portland as Shluchim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Related Topics
Related Posts