The Inner Meaning Of The Israeli Flag

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A flag is an extremely important symbol for a country. For the Jewish People, flags date back to the ancient days of their wanderings in the desert. In the second chapter of Numbers the bible describes a flag for each tribe with its own unique color and symbol.
“The children of Israel shall encamp every man by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses: at a distance from the Tent of Meeting shall they encamp around it.” (Numbers 2:2)
At that point, the Nation of Israel was made up of twelve tribes. Each tribe had a flag around which all the families of that tribe encamped and when the time came, dismantled their encampment and traveled together with their flag, in a specific order, to the next encampment. At the center of the tribal camps was the tabernacle, the “dwelling of God” which was the symbol of unity among all of the tribes of Israel.
When the Nation of Israel entered the Land of Israel, they settled the land according to these tribes, the descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob. The uniting factor for them was the Tabernacle and, later, the holy Temple. It is not clear if there was a single flag which represented them. Yet the symbols remained. The lion of Judah, the candelabra of the holy Temple, the olive branches representing the oil which was used to light the candelabra, and, of course, the holy Torah scrolls. When the Jewish people were exiled from the land of Israel, it does not appear that they carried a flag. One might say that the Torah was the flag the Jews took into exile, and remained loyal to, throughout the centuries. Wherever Jews went in the long and bitter exile, they took their “flag”, the Torah, with them.
Centuries later, in 1896, Theodore Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement presented the need to create a flag for the Zionist movement. Herzl’s suggested design for a flag didn’t catch on, and David Wolffsohn, a prominent businessman, active in the Zionist movement made the following statement:
At the behest of our leader Herzl, I came to Basle to make preparations for the Zionist Congress. Among many other problems that occupied me then was one that contained something of the essence of the Jewish problem. What flag would we hang in the Congress Hall? Then an idea struck me. We have a flag—and it is blue and white. The talith (prayer shawl) with which we wrap ourselves when we pray: that is our symbol. Let us take this Talith from its bag and unroll it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all nations. So I ordered a blue and white flag with the Shield of David painted upon it. That is how the national flag, that flew over Congress Hall, came into being.”
And so, the flag of the Zionist movement, which represented spirituality and service of God continued on to become the flag of the State of Israel. The symbolic beauty of the nation who left their country thousands of years previously with the Torah, the Word of God, and returned with the Torah and a flag fashioned after the prayer shawl is truly visionary. There are those who oppose the design of the Jewish flag, but, it appears to be the most natural and appropriate flag for the Jewish Homeland.

Published: April 23, 2015
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