By Christine Darg
Modern Israel has reached 71. This is a number of great significance according to the rabbis.
Celebratory fireworks as well as threats of firearms from Israel’s enemies were in the mix as “against all odds we returned to our homeland,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein proclaimed at the opening of the ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
“Continue going forward against all odds. You will one day stand here and light a torch for the glory of Israel,” Edelstein told children from all over the country who tuned in for the celebration.
“Some nations are blessed with large territory, others have natural resources, others with large populations, and what do we have? We have a tale of a nation of slaves that became free and brought the world hope for freedom.”
Twelve torches were lit by Jews from Israel and the Diaspora–one by Mari Nahmias, a Holocaust survivor and mother of eight who was also a foster mother to 52 children.
The last torch was kindled by three beautiful Orthodox women: Rachel Frankel, Bat Galim Sha’er and Iris Yifrach, the mothers of Naftali Frankel, Gilad Sha’er and Eyal Yifrach who were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank in 2014.
Israel is 71 years young compared to her 3,000 year history yet she is now as a nation a full generation old. I can think of no better script to set the tone for the celebration of Israel’s 71st year than Psalm 71:
In You, O Lord, I Take Refuge
1In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.
2Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me.
3Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou artmy rock and my fortress.
4Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.
5For thou artmy hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
6By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.
7I am as a wonder unto many; but thou artmy strong refuge.
8Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day.
9Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.
10For mine enemies speak against me; and they that lay wait for my soul take counsel together,
11Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for there is none to deliver him.
12O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help.
13Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul; let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt.
14But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.
15My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof.
16I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.
17O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.
18Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.
19Thy righteousness also, O God, isvery high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!
20Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
21Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.
22I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel.
23My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.
24My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame, that seek my hurt.
And for Hebrew lovers, here is Psalm 71 from the Orthodox Jewish Bible:
3 Be Thou Tzur Ma’on (a rock of habitation), whereunto I may resort tamid (continually); Thou hast given commandment to save me; for Thou art my rock and my fortress.
4 Deliver me, O Elohai, out of the yad of the rasha, out of the palm of the unrighteous and cruel man.
5 For Thou art my tikveh (hope), Adonoi Hashem; Thou art my trust from my youth.
6 By Thee have I been upheld from the beten (womb); Thou art He that took me out of the womb of immi; my tehillah (praise) shall be of Thee tamid (continually).
7 I am as a mofet (portent) unto rabbim (many); but Thou art my strong refuge.
8 Let my mouth be filled with Thy tehillah (praise) and with Thy tiferet (glory) kol hayom.
9 Cast me not off in the time of ziknah (old age); forsake me not when my ko’ach faileth.
10 For mine oyevim speak against me; and they that lay in wait for my nefesh conspire together,
11 Saying, Elohim hath forsaken him; persecute and lay hold of him; for there is none to rescue him.
12 O Elohim, be not far from me; O Elohai, make haste for my help.
13 Let them be ashamed and consumed that are [satanic] adversaries to my nefesh; let them be covered with cherpah (reproach) and dishonor that seek my hurt.
14 But I will hope tamid (continually), and will yet give tehillah to Thee more and more.
15 My mouth shall proclaim Thy tzedakah and Thy Teshuah (salvation) kol hayom; for I know not the limits thereof.
16 I will come in the gevurot (mighty acts) of Adonoi Hashem; I will make mention of Thy tzedakah, even of Thine only.
17 O Elohim, Thou hast taught me from my youth; and hitherto have I declared Thy nifle’ot (wondrous works).
18 Now also when I am in ziknah (old age) and grayheaded, O Elohim, forsake me not; until I have declared Thy zero’a [Moshiach; T.N. see Isa 53:1] unto this generation, and Thy gevurah to everyone that is to come.
19 Thy tzedakah also, O Elohim, is ad marom (to the heights). Thou Who hast done gedolot (great things); O Elohim, mi khamocha (who is like unto Thee)?
20 Thou, which hast showed me great and severe tzoros, shalt revive me again, and shalt bring me up again from the tehomot (abysses) of ha’aretz.
21 Thou shalt increase my gedolah, and comfort me on every side.
22 I will also praise Thee with the nevel (lyre), even Thy emes, O Elohai; unto Thee will I sing with the kinnor (harp), O Thou Kadosh Yisroel.
23 My lips shall shout for joy when I sing unto Thee; and my nefesh, which Thou hast purchased for redemption.
24 My leshon also shall tell of Thy tzedakah kol hayom; for they are brought unto shame, they are humiliated that seek my hurt.
Furthermore, it is important to realise that 71 is a governmental number, as explained by Rabbi Tuly Weisz, director of Israel365 and editor of The Israel Bible: