This week coincides with the anniversary of the death of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. He was the first official leader that a Jewish state had had in nearly 2,000 years. Ben-Gurion’s legacy is a complex one. He made – and had to make – decisions that given more time or the benefit of hindsight he may not have made. But how many of us could not hand-on-heart say that? What is true though, is that without Ben-Gurion’s cussedness and hard-headed pragmatism, the State of Israel may have been even less of a viable entity than it seemed in 1947/48.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am Hashem
לֹא־תִ ּקֹם וְ לֹא־תִ ּטֹר אֶ ת־ב ְ נֵי עַ ּמֶ ָך וְ אָ הַ בְ תָ לְ רֵ עֲ ָך כָ מֹוָך אֲ נִ י יְ-ה-וָ -ה׃
lo ti-KOM v’-lo ti-TOR et b’-NAY a-ME-kha v’-a-hav-TA l’-raya-KHA ka-MO-kha a-NEE a-do-NAI
In a speech given in 1944 to a gathering of youth groups in Haifa, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion referred to these words as an example of how Judaism serves as a paradigm of a society built on morality, peace and love: “Ours was a tiny nation inhabiting a small country, and there have been many tiny nations and many small countries, but ours was a tiny nation possessed of a great spirit; an inspired people that believed in its pioneering mission to all men, in the mission that had been preached by the prophets of Israel. This people gave the world great and eternal moral truths and commandments. This people rose to prophetic visions of the unity of the Creator with His creation, of the dignity and infinite worth of the individual because every man is created in the divine image, of social justice, universal peace, and love: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ This people was the first to prophesy about ‘the end of days,’ the first to see the vision of a new human society.” Even though Ben-Gurion was not a religious Jew, he was deeply influenced by the Bible, which had a profound impact on his outlook and his actions on behalf of the Jewish State.