What Do Leprosy and Messiah Have to Do With Israel’s Independence Day?

May 2, 2017

3 min read

While national holidays are normally exclusive to the country celebrating, one rabbi has proclaimed that the nature of Israeli Independence Day (Yom Haatzmaut), which takes place on Tuesday, is actually universal and Messianic, with a Biblical message to the nations that allies from “outside the camp” of Israel are actually necessary to bringing the Messiah.

“Even the outcast, the total outsider has a part in it. This is especially true when it comes to the State of Israel,” Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students at Diaspora Yeshiva on Mount Zion, told Breaking Israel News.

Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher (YouTube Screenshot)

His understanding derives from the weekly Torah reading, which currently deals with the Biblical malady of tsara’at, translated as leprosy. This reading happened to fall on the Shabbat preceding the week of Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day, and led Rabbi Sprecher to connect the events to the concept of redemption.

Rabbi Sprecher based his lecture on the Haftorah, a section from Writings or Prophets read in synagogue that deals with a theme from the weekly section of the Torah. This week, the reading was the seventh chapter of Kings II, which tells how a famine beset Samaria, then the capital of Israel, as a result of an Aramean siege.

Out of desperation, four lepers, expelled from the city for their impurity, decided to investigate the enemy camp. To their amazement, they discovered the enemy soldiers had inexplicably fled, leaving all their belongings, including food and water, behind.

“The lepers could have held a grudge and not saved the city people who kicked them out,” Rabbi Sprecher explained. “But the message of the story is that the great salvation came from the people outside the camp. They became the most treasured and valued people of the city, the heroes of the people, and the bringers of salvation.

“Hashem chooses who is the means of bringing salvation, and that can even be someone who is outside the camp of Israel or Torah.”

David Nekrutman, the executive director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC), takes the teaching of Independence Day’s universality a step further, reaching out directly to non-Jews by organizing a joint Jewish-Christian prayer session to celebrate the holiday.

Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation Day of Praise. (Courtesy CJCUC)

The worshipers together recite Hallel, a collection of Psalms read on holidays as a way of rejoicing and praising God.

“Hallel is the very definition of universal prayer, praising the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with the Jews as a conduit,” Nekrutman said, citing Psalms.

O praise Hashem, all ye nations; laud Him, all ye peoples. Psalms 117:1

“As Jews, it is necessary for us that the non-Jews understand this Messianic ideal of the State of Israel,” he continued, again referring to Psalms.

When Hashem brought back those that returned to Tzion, we were like unto them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then said they among the nations: ‘Hashem hath done great things with these.’ Psalms 126:1-2

The message is simple, Rabbi Sprecher concluded. “Israel is certainly part of the geula (redemption) and every person has their unique role to play in bringing Moshiach (Messiah).”

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