If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither. *1 ￼
ISRAEL AN ECHO OF ETERNITY
by Abraham Joshua Heschel
For a non-Jew it can be hard to fully understand the inviolable link that binds Jews all over the world to the Land of Israel, a tie that transcends geography and time. This profound bond is well described by Jewish author Abraham Joshua Heschel:
“Throughout history people have moved from one country to another…they abandoned the memory of their former homes. The Jewish people, however, forced to leave their ancient country, has never abandoned the Holy Land, the Jewish people has never ceased to be passionate about Zion. It has always lived in a dialogue with the Holy Land.
Exile from the land was conceived as an interruption, as a prelude to return, never as an abandonment or detachment. Bonds of hope tied us to the land. To abandon these bonds was to deny our identity. Again and again our hearts turned to Zion and Jerusalem…
When Jews were no longer permitted to be at home in their own land, Zion — Jerusalem — did not simply linger on as a vague memory of a distant past. Zion, Jerusalem, continued to be a presence in our lives. Wherever we lived, the sky was above us, and Jerusalem in the front of us.
The destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70, the onset of a history of distress, remained a lasting sorrow and hurt. Throughout the ages it was as if since the year 70 time stood still. All calamities were seen as a sequel to the destruction of Jerusalem. The disaster was constantly lived and relived, the anguish never ceased…
Separation from the land was never accepted as final. The vision of restoration, craving for redemption, love of Zion, longing for Jerusalem, fill the words of our liturgy, words that give no rest.” *2
Israel An Echo of Eternity is a profoundly moving book written by Abraham Heschel following his visit to Israel in 1967, just after the Six Day War. He discusses the past, present, and future one and only Homeland of the Jews and asks the inexhaustible question, “What is the meaning of the State of Israel?” He answers himself:
“Its sheer being is the message.*3 …The ultimate meaning of the State of Israel must be seen in terms of the vision of the prophets: the redemption of all men.” *4 ￼
Abraham Heschel wrote of the Western Wall:
The Wall… At first I am stunned.
Then I see: a Wall of frozen tears, a cloud of sighs.
Palimpsests, hiding books, secret names. The stones are seas.
The Wall…The old mother crying for all of us. Stubborn, loving, waiting for redemption.
The ground on which I stand is Amen. My words become echos.
All of history is waiting here…These stones have a heart, a heart for all men…
What is the Wall? The unceasing marvel. Expectation.
The Wall will not perish. The Redeemer will come. *5
As we await the final redemption may the ground we stand on also be Amen!
Jerusalem – Psalms inhabit the hills, the air is Halleluyah. *6 ￼
1. Psalm 137:5
2. Abraham Joshua Heschel, Israel An Echo of Eternity, pg. 58-60
3. Ibid, pg. 224
4. Ibid, pg. 225
5. Ibid, pg. 19-21
6. Ibid, pg. 9