The Hidden Meaning of the Symbol of the Israel Postal Company

In Parshat Vayechi, right before Yaakov passes away he blesses each of his children.

The blessing for Naftali is found in Breisheet 49:21 “Naftali is a gazelle-like messenger (ayala shlucha), he delivers pleasant sayings.”

According to Ramban, it was a custom among the rulers of countries to send gazelles to one another. Gazelles which were born in the territory of the king of the north country would be raised in the palaces of the king of the south country. They would attach a written message to its horns and it would run speedily and return to its original habitat and in this way the king of the north country would be apprised of the news. This is the meaning of the phrase “he delivers pleasant sayings”, meaning that he is a dispatched gazelle sent to bear good tidings.

This practice is known and is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Shviit 9:2 “They said, ‘If they go they will return and if you wish to prove it, bring deer and send them to a land far away and in the end they will return.’ He brought deer and covered their horns with silver and sent them to Africa and at the end of thirteen years they returned to their place.”

Rashi explains that a gazelle-like messenger is a gazelle that is dispatched to run quickly. This refers to the Valley of Ginosar (a district around the Kinneret belonging to the tribe of Naftali) where fruits ripen quickly just like a gazelle runs quickly.

Chizkuni points out that gazelles were sent after the war to swiftly bring good news about the victory.

Breisheet Raba 98:17 states that when Yaakov gave Naftali this blessing he was referring to Barak’s victory that would take place in the war against Sisra in the Book of Shoftim (Judges 4:6) “She (Devora) sent and summoned Barak son of Avinoam of Kedesh Naftali and said to him: ‘Behold, HaShem the God of Israel commanded: Go and convince the people to go toward Mount Tavor and take with you 10,000 men from the children of Naftali…’”

Radak adds that Devora was like a gazelle (light on her feet) as she was instrumental in bringing about the victory and therefore it is written in the feminine (ayala) and not in the masculine (ayil).

What does all of this have to do with Israel’s Postal Company?

The symbol of Israel’s Postal Company is the gazelle based on the blessing that Yaakov gave to Naftali.

The logo was created by the Shamir Brothers who also designed Israel’s symbol of the menorah with the olive branches. The logo appeared on the stamp that was released in 1950 when Israel was accepted into the International Postal Union and is still used today.

The idea was that Israel’s Postal Company would deliver the mail as swiftly as the gazelle delivered pleasant sayings.

10384761_10153999193103532_1062283670411255894_nLet’s hope that all of our mail will arrive in a timely fashion and that good news will be inside each letter.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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