May 27, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 27, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Blue, White and Beautiful Land

Five months after the establishment of Israel, we adopted the flag we know today. A blue Magen David on a white background, between two horizontal blue stripes symbolizing the stripes on a tallit and the blue dye, the techeilet, of the tzitzit. We are commanded to look at these tzitzit “and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them” (Bamidbar 15:39). Chazal explain that the techeilet corresponds to the color of the Divine Revelation (Sifri, Bamidbar 115) and deters us from sin.

The context of the mitzvah of tzitzit reveals added significance to the colors, and hence the Israeli flag. The mitzvah appears with other mitzvot connected to the Land of Israel after the Sin of the Spies, who dissuaded the nation from entering the Land (Bamidbar 15:37–41). Ibn Ezra (ibid., 15:2) explains this juxtaposition as indicative of consolation and assurance for the people that they will indeed enter the Land. And the tzitzit in particular will remind them not to rebel against God.

How do the tzitzit remind us not to rebel? In addition to several expressions in the Parsha of Tzitzit that hint at the spies’ sin – e.g. “to explore (latur) the land”… “You shall not explore after (lo taturu acharei) your hearts”… “You shall see the Land” (13:18)… “We were in our eyes like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes” (13:33)… “after which you stray” (15:39)… “Your children will wander in the desert for 40 years and will bear [the consequences of] your straying” (14:33), and more, we also find parallels in the garment itself. The garment upon which the tzitzit are placed remind us of the garments torn by Calev and Yehoshua upon hearing Bnei Yisrael’s pleas to return to Egypt. The tzitzit remind us that we should stay focused on our national destiny of living in Eretz Yisrael!

That is why the term kanaf (lit. corner), generally a word connoting direction, is used (Bamidbar 15:38 and Devarim 22:12). It reminds us of the four directions the spies took in the Land of Israel. A thread of techeilet among the white threads at each of these corners reminds us of the colors of the Land of Israel, particularly those of Nachalat Yehuda, in which Moshe had commanded the spies to tour (Bamidbar 13:17). These are the colors with which Yaakov blesses Yehuda and his land: “His eyes shall be ‘red’ with wine, and his teeth white with milk” (Bereishit 49:11–12). The Ramban explains that the eyes will not be red, but rather colored blue (kachol) with the oxidized wine that grows in the mountains of Yehuda, as the teeth will be whitened by the milk of the flock in the deserts of Yehuda.

The tzitzit and our flag remind us not to rebel nor lose sight of God’s commandments, particularly not to lose sight of the beauty of Eretz Yisrael. The tzitzit remind us of the majesty and love relationship with God in the Land of Israel and console us after years of wandering. And the Israeli flag waves in the Land of Yehuda as a constant reminder not only not to explore elsewhere, velo taturu, but that there is nowhere else to explore.

Rabbanit Shani Taragin is Educational Director of World Mizrachi and teaches at Matan and other educational institutions in Israel. She is a member of the Mizrachi Speakers Bureau (www.mizrachi.org/speakers).


The RZA-Mizrachi is a broad Religious Zionist organization without a particular political affiliation.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles