Another Diamond in the Necklace
By Moshe Feiglin
Lift up your eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to you. As I live, says the Lord, you shall surely adorn yourself with them all as with an ornament, and gird yourself with them, like a bride. (Isaiah 49:18)
Last week, we were invited to the airport to welcome a young relative who was making aliyah from the US. I had heard a lot about the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization that helps North American (and British) Jews to make aliyah. But until you see it with your own eyes, you don’t really understand the amazing work that this organization does. In truth, I really didn’t want to give up my morning bicycle ride to hear Bibi speak at 7 a.m. This particular relative has been a guest at our home many times, and I didn’t understand why the fact that this time he was officially making aliyah meant that I had to change my routine and show up at the airport. But fortunately, my wife dragged me by the ear. I’m really glad that she did.
The Nefesh B’Nefesh charter plane rolls into Terminal 1. The people gathered to welcome the olim are allowed to wait for the new arrivals literally on the runway. The band plays. Singing and dancing all around. Suddenly, all the cynicism and daily battles peel off and the old and good Zionism shines forth in all its glory. This entire scene plays on some of my rusty heartstrings. Out of nowhere, my eyes fill with tears – that I try to hide behind the daily edition of the Jerusalem Post distributed by Nefesh B’Nefesh so that the people waiting will G-d forbid not get bored until the olim emerge from the plane.
Afterwards, some short speeches by Bibi, Natan Sharansky and the heads of Nefesh B’Nefesh. Netanyahu mentioned something of which most people are not aware. In the upcoming year, with G-d’s help, the number of Jews in the Land of Israel will be greater than the number of Jews in the Diaspora – according to Bibi, for the first time in 2000 years. It is nice that Bibi mentioned that, but he was off by about 1000 years. Even in the time of the Second Temple, the Jews in Israel were fewer in number than their Diaspora counterparts. In other words, we are at the threshold of a historic reality that has not transpired since the ten tribes were exiled prior to the destruction of the First Temple. This has far-reaching implications in Jewish law. Furthermore, what is both fascinating and gives me the goose bumps is the fact that the number we are talking about is six million Jews in Israel.
I do not generally write about the mystical significance of numbers. But it is crystal clear that the number 600,000 has special Jewish import. This was the number of draft-age Jews who were redeemed from Egypt and the parameter of ‘public domain’ in Jewish laws pertaining to Shabbat. In other words, a place through which 600,000 people pass is considered public domain in Jewish law. This number of Jews creates a new reality. When that happens in Israel, it is a positive new reality.
600,000 Jews lived in Israel when the State was established in 1948.
600,000 draft-aged men lived in Israel in the War of Miracles in 1967.
I do not know what the new reality of the majority of Jews in the world living in Israel will bring on its wings. Especially when the absolute number of Jews living here will be the significant 10 times 600,000 – six million. But the words of the prophet Isaiah, who prophesied more or less at the time that the majority of Jews in Israel was lost, strike a chord deep inside my heart.
Behold, Zion, see how your children are returning to you. And you, like a bride under the canopy, stand and watch as the lost diamonds return to you, one by one, to be embedded on the glorious necklace around your neck.
For those of you who want to know what will happen next, just look at Isaiah 49.