Martin M. van Brauman
The festival of Passover is also the festival of freedom after the exodus from bondage and to celebrate God’s promise to “pass over you, and there shall not be a plague of destruction upon you when I strike in the land.” Exodus 12:13. During the meal on the first two nights of Passover, the Cup of Elijah is set out symbolizing the future ingathering of the Jewish exiles and the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty over Israel. “I shall bring you to the land about which I raised My hand to give it to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I shall give it to you as a heritage – I am the Lord.” Exodus 6:8. Heritage implies that the land remains the eternal possession of Israel, even to the Jews who have never seen it. Jews in distant exiles have longed always for the Land of Israel. Israel belongs to the Jews for all eternity.
On Shabbat services during the Passover holiday, the following verses from Ezekiel 37:1-14 are read in the synagogues.
The hand of the Lord was upon me; it took me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the midst of the valley – and it was filled with bones. He passed me over them all around and around; and behold, they were very numerous upon the face of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. Then He said to me: “Son of Man, can these bones come to life?” And I said, “Lord Our God, You know!”
He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones! Say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus said the Lord Our God to these bones: Behold, I bring a spirit into you, and you will come to life. I will put sinews upon you, I will bring up flesh upon you, and I will coat you with skin; then I will put a spirit into you and you will come to life; then you will know that I am the Lord.
So I prophesied as I had been commanded. There was a sound as I was prophesying. Then behold, there was a noise, and the bones drew near, each bone to its [matching] bone. Then I looked, and behold, upon them were sinews, and flesh had come up and skin had covered them over; but there was no spirit in them. Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the spirit! Prophesy, O Son of Man, and say to the spirit, ‘Thus said the Lord Our God: Come from the four directions, O spirit, and blow into these slain people, that they may come to life!’ ” I prophesied as I had been commanded and the spirit entered them and they came to life. They stood upon their feet, a very, very great legion.
He said to me, “Son of Man, these bones – they are the whole House of Israel. Behold, they are saying, ‘Our bones are dried out and our hope is lost; we are doomed!’ Therefore, prophesy and say to them:
Thus said the Lord Our God: Behold, I am opening your graves and raising you up from your graves, My people, and I will bring you to the soil of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and when I raise you up from your graves, My people, and when I put My spirit into you, and you come to life, and I set you on your soil. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken and I have fulfilled – the word of the Lord.
Out of the “dry bones” of two thousand years of persecution and the Holocaust, God is restoring His people by bringing them back to the Land and placing His spirit within them. During a CBS interview in 1956, David Ben Gurion said “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.”