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Shabbat Parashat Bamidbar 5783

Parashat Hashavua: The Significance of a Flag and a Tallit

Harav Yosef Carmel

The Zionist Movement chose its flag in 1897 at the 1st Zionist Congress in Basil, and the State of Israel adopted it in 1948. It contains two stripes around a star of David in light blue (techelet) over a white background. The flag was chosen due to its connection to Jewish tradition.

Let us contemplate the flag’s significance, especially its color and its two stripes. Techelet has a very special place in Jewish tradition. The midrash tells us that techelet (from tzitzit) is reminiscent of the sea, which is reminiscent of the sky, which is reminiscent of the Divine Throne (Bamidbar Rabba 4:13).

The sky actually has no color; it and the sea are clear. Judaism believes in one invisible G-d. Therefore, it is no surprise that techelet resembles the Divine Throne and the existence of the Divine Presence, which is not palpable or visible, in our specific lives and throughout the world. Techelet is also the most appropriate color for the period between the splitting of the sea and the revelation at Sinai. The two techelet stripes on the flag represent that all Jews make up one nation, which consists of people with different shades and opinions. When they all come together as they should, the color that normally looks like techelet is actually clear.

Techelet is also the color of an important mitzva object – the tallit garment with tzitzit on its corners. Most tallitot have stripes on them, which is the true reason behind the flag’s similar image. Even if the founders of the Zionist movement did not intend it, I believe it was in their subconscious thoughts. The entire Nation of Israel gather under the “wings of the Divine Presence” like children who gather under their father’s tallit during Birkat Kohanim.

[We will now greatly condense, due to this forum’s space limitations, Rav Carmel’s retelling of a story he took part in during the Yom Kippur War. We can call the story, “The Tallit that Saved.” We recommended seeing the full story, in Hebrew or English please contact our office at info@eretzhemdah.org.]

On Yom Kippur of 1973, we were among the first tanks in our reserve battalion to counterattack Egyptian forces near the Suez Canal. We were undermanned and missing important equipment and were shocked along the way by signs of the destruction of Israeli forces. As we got closer to the canal, we saw, at a distance, infantry forces, about which we had been warned, running toward us. We shot at them but missed. The forces ran out of sight. A little later, two soldiers came out from behind a sand dune with what appeared to be a white flag. We saw no reason for Egyptian forces to surrender at this juncture and, considering it an apparent ploy, prepared to possibly shoot. Looking through my equipment, I noticed that it was not a simple white flag but it had stripes on it and realized it was a tallit. I told our commander, who warned the forces not to shoot. It turns out that there was a group of more than 20 survivors of an evacuated post on the canal who were trying to reunite with Israeli forces. The idea of the tallit to signal their identity was that of a high school classmate of mine. We saved the group. Although many (including my tank commander) did not survive the war, the owner of the “tallit that saved” brings it to shul every Yom Kippur to recall the miracle.   
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Dedication

We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:

Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Ori Leah bat Chaya Temima

Arye Yitzchak ben Geula Miriam

Neta bat Malka

Meira bat Esther
Yerachmiel ben Zlotta Rivka

Together with all cholei Yisrael


Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

Those who fell in wars

for our homeland

 

Prof. Yisrael Aharoni z"l

Kislev 14, 5783

 

Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10, 5771


Rav
 Reuven & Chaya Leah Aberman z"l
Tishrei 9
 ,5776 / Tishrei 20, 5782

 

Mr. Shmuel & Esther Shemesh z"l

Sivan 17 / Av 20

 

Mr. Moshe Wasserzug z"l

Tishrei 20 ,5781

 

R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 ,5776

 

MrsSara Wengrowsky

bat R’ Moshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774

 

Rav Asher & Susan Wasserteil z"l
Kislev 9 / Elul 5780

 

R' Meir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l

&

MrsSara Brachfeld z"l

Tevet 16 ,5780

 

R 'Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha

and

Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l

 

Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13, 5778

 

Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23, 5777

 

R' Abraham & Gita Klein z"l

Iyar 18,  /5779Av 4

 

Rav Moshe Zvi (Milton) Polin z"l
Tammuz 19, 5778

 

R' Yitzchak Zev Tarshansky z"l

Adar 28, 5781

 

Nina Moinester z"l

Nechama Osna bat Yitzhak Aharon & Doba

Av 30, 5781

 

Rabbi Dr. Jerry Hochbaum z"l

Adar II 17, 5782

 

Mrs. Julia Koschitzky z"l

Adar II 18, 5782

 

Mrs. Leah Meyer z"l

Nisan 27, 5782

 

Mr. Shmuel & Rivka Brandman z"l

Tevet 16 5783/ Iyar 8, 5781

 

R' Leiser Presser z"l

 ben R' Aharon Yitzhak and Bracha,
24 Iyar

and members of his family who perished
 in the shoah Al Kiddush Hashem


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