Thursday, November 26, 2009

Israel, Read the Sign!

"I have lost all respect for you as a Rabbi and I dont believe that a man who cant be trusted in confidence, should be giving advice to people". (Leah) 
Last week's email, Confessions of a Thief, elicited some heated responses. Follow the debate here.
Question of the Week:
What does the word Zion mean, and what are its origins? (I was asked this by my Rastafarian friend)

The name Zion holds the secret to the power of Israel. If you understand this name, you understand the magic of the Holy Land.
The word Zion appears 154 times in the Hebrew Bible, and has several connotations. Zion can refer to the Land of Israel, the city of Jerusalem or the Temple. But the actual meaning of the word is puzzling. Translated literally, Zion means a sign, or an icon.
A sign is always indication of something else. When you see a sign that says "dentist", you know that the sign itself is not the dentist, it merely points out that a dentist is here. Same with an icon. When you see an icon on a website, it is not the icon itself that has any use. It is there to click on and it directs you to another page. A sign is never there for itself. It is there to alert our attention, to make us aware of or to lead us to some other reality.
So too with the Land of Israel. It is a sign pointing upwards. It is the icon that you click on to be directed to G-d. The very existence of the land of Israel points to a Higher Force. The beauty of the land, the magic of Jerusalem, the holiness of the Temple mount are all indicators of a Higher presence.
The awe felt when entering the Old City of Jerusalem is not due to its impressive buildings, for it has none. It is not due to its sense of history, though that too is fascinating. It is due to the sense of something bigger than life itself that fills the air. You walk the land, and you sense G-d's presence. The Holy Land is a sign pointing upwards to G-d.
You can't avoid G-d in Israel. You can seek Him out or run away from Him, but you can't stay neutral. G-d is too real to ignore in Israel. Whether one is a believer or not, whether one admits it or not, the magic of Israel is divine. That's why it's called Zion, a sign of the One Above.
Israel without G-d is like a dentist sign without a dentist, or an icon with a broken link. It stands for nothing and it goes nowhere. But when Israel is true to its G-d and true to its mission, it is invincible. Israel's power does not come from its military might, and not from its allies and friends. It comes from G-d. Just read the sign.
Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss
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