Judaism: These Bones are the Whole House of Israel
Moshe KempinskiMoshe Kempinski, author of "The Teacher and the Preacher", is the editor of the Jerusalem Insights weekly email journal and co-owner of Shorashim, a Biblical shop and learning center in the Old City of Jerusalem.
When the Patriarch Jacob dies in Egypt, the brothers of Joseph begin to fear that Joseph will take revenge on them for selling him into slavery. Joseph comforts them and declares." And Joseph said unto his brethren: 'I die; but G-d will surely remember you (pakod yifkod etchem), and bring you up out of this land unto the land which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.' And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying: 'G-d will surely remember you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.' (Genesis 50:24-25)
Those words “Pakod Yifkod” became code words.
When the time for Israel’s redemption finally arrived, G-d appears to Moshe at the burning bush. He tells Moshe to say to the people "Hashem, the G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared unto me saying, "I have surely remembered you ( Pakod Pakadeti Etchem) and seen that which is done to you in Egypt'" ( Exodus3:16).
Those words gave the people the power to believe.
When they left Egypt we read:
“And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him; for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying: 'G-d will surely remember you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.” (Exodus 13:19).
Instead of burying Joseph when he died, as they did with Jacob, Joseph's bones awaited the ultimate redemption of Exodus. Joseph represented their attempt at physical redemption and physical success in a foreign land. That success eventually deteriorated into slavery. The bones represented the beginnings of anew reality.
We read again in the book of Ezekiel,
”The hand of Hashem came upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of Hashem, and set me down in the midst of the valley, and that was full of bones……And He said to me, …”Therefore prophesy, and say unto them: Thus said Hashem G-d: 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.” (Ezekiel 37:1, 4, 9)
On 29, 1945 April General Linden, Assistant Division Commander of the 42d Division, General Banfill of the Eight Air Force, and General Linden’s aide, Lt. Cowling, and guards and drivers entered the Dachau concentration camp. The following is an excerpt from a letter Lt. Cowling sent to his family;
“When we entered the gate not a soul was in sight. Then suddenly people (few could call them that) came from all directions. They were dirty, starved skeletons with torn tattered clothes and they screamed and hollered and cried. They ran up and grabbed us, myself and the newspaper people and kissed our hands, our feet and all of them tried to touch us. ”
"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.” (ibid)
And they came.
They came out of the ovens of Auschwitz and from the ravaged fields of the Ukraine. They came wounded, hurting and alone, yet they came. They came and established a state and immediately went to war as independent soldiers fighting for their home. The word for bones or skeletons is Atzamot while the word for independence is Atzmaut. These skeletons and rugged bones (Atzamot) were then covered with sinews, flesh and strength and were integral in bringing forth Israel’s Independence (Atzmaut ).
Throughout the Tanach that is exactly what the word Atzamot represents. It represents the potential and the possibility of growth. It is out of the Etzem taken from Adam that G-d fashioned Eve. It is out of the “atzamot” from Europe that G-d fashioned the reborn state of Israel.
It is now our responsibility to fulfill that potential and continue to breathe life and faith into this country. As G-d ,Himself promises;
” And I will put My spirit into you, and you shall live, and I will set you on your land, and you shall know that I, Hashem, have spoken it and have performed it,” says Hashem “(ibid:14).
It is that potential that we will celebrate on this great and awesome day. G-d has fashioned a vessel and it is up to us to participate in filling that vessel with the Spirit and faith of Hashem
Moadim Lesimcha Chagim uzmanim lesason
( le-refuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved)