Yesterday was the Shabbat between Yom HaShoah - a day of remembrance for all those lost in the Holocaust - and Yom HaAtzmaut - a day commemorating the 1948 formation of the State of Israel. Because of this, Rabbi Moshe Levin of Ner Tamid chose to change the haftarah that is traditionally read for the Torah parsha Tazria-Metzorah. Instead, the haftarah that we read on the Shabbat HolHamoed Pesach - the Shabbat in the midst of Passover - Ezekiel 36:37 - 37:14, known as the "Dry Bones" story. He felt that reading was much more appropriate to the Shabbat linking Yom HaShoah to Yom HaAtzmaut. Reading that story, I totally agree with him, and think it's a change that should be made at Beth Sholom when we are back together next year in our new synagogue building.
The amazing thing about reading that haftarah this past Shabbat was seeing the prophesy of Ezekiel fulfilled with the survival of Judaism after the holocaust and the birth of the Jewish homeland. The imagery couldn't be more appropriate and the words more direct. Ezekiel tells of his vision in which God takes him to a valley of dry bones. God says to those bones: "I will lay sinews upon you, and cover you with flesh, and form skin over you. And I will put breath into you, and you shall live again" (37:6). And so it comes to pass:
"The breath entered them, and they came to life and stood up on their feet, a vast multitude. And God said to me, "O mortal, these bones are the whole House of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone; we are doomed.' Prophesy, therefore, and say to them: Thus said Adonai, your God: I am going to open your graves and lift you out of the graves, O My people, and bring you to the land of Israel. You shall know, O My people, that I am Adonai, when I have opened your graves and lifted you out of your graves. I will put My breath into you and you shall live again, and I will set you upon your own soil. Then you shall know that I, Adonai, have spoken and have acted" (37:10-14)Read it again and let it all sink in. Hope is gone, dried up like those bones. But just as those lifted from the graves, hope rises from the ashes of the Holocaust as our people are brought to a land that can be called ours - the State of Israel. All our displaced people can now find their way home.
A prophesy written before the common era fulfilled in the 20th century. While I find this somewhat chilling, it also helps me confirm my faith in my Jewish tradition.