“And He said unto me: ‘Son of man can these bones live?’ And I answered: ‘O Lord G-D Thou knowest.’” Ezekiel 37:3 (The Israel Bible™)
Israel Independence Day comes directly after Memorial Day, in a logical arrangement that one rabbi says reflects the two-stage process of Messiah embodied in the State of Israel.
Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, a prominent Jewish educator and bestselling author, believes it is not a coincidence that Memorial Day directly precedes Independence Day .
According to Jewish tradition, there are two stages in the Messiah:
Moshiach ben Yosef (Messiah from the House of Joseph) and Moshiach ben David (Messiah from the House of David). Moshiach ben Yosef is a natural, physical process building up the practical aspects of Israel.
Rabbi Apisdorf explained that these two stages are reflected in the Vision of the Dry Bones described in chapter 37 of Ezekiel. The beginning of the vision describes scattered bones.
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied there was a noise and behold a commotion and the bones came together bone to its bone.
“This part of the vision is a process of bringing the bones together, binding them in the flesh,” explained Rabbi Apisdorf. “This describes Messiah from the House of Joseph. The first vision represents the Jews in exile, when we were like individual bones with no sense of being part of a whole. For the Jewish people, exile is a boneyard.”
Bringing the bones together, the rabbi explained, is the ingathering of the people and the necessary practical arrangements that needed to be made. In the years leading up to 1948 and for many years after, this effort was spearheaded by secular Zionists, who farmed the land and fought in the IDF.
“This is the first stage, the secular Zionists, who, like Joseph in Egypt, provided a physical home for the Jews: food, shelter,and protection,” Rabbi Apsidorf explained. “The Jews who died in this process, of reconstituting the dry bones, physically building up and defending the country, were the embodiment of Moshiach ben Yosef.”
The rabbi then explained that the second vision described in Ezekiel is of a spirit entering the now-reconstituted bodies.
So I prophesied as He commanded me and the breath came into them and they lived and stood up upon their feet an exceeding great host.
This, the rabbi explained, is a spiritual, internal process.
“The second stage is when the spirit, that has always been there, becomes apparent in all its glory,” Rabbi Apisdorf said. “This process, Moshiach ben David, emphasizes the spiritual. Without the first stage, the spiritual stage will not happen.”
According to tradition, Moshiach ben David is a spiritual process culminating in the Third Temple and the Davidic Dynasty. This, the rabbi said, is contained within Independence Day. The sages teach that the redemption from the third exile, which many believe we are now experiencing, will, unlike the previous two redemptions, never end.
“Moshiach ben Yosef is the seed that contains everything that follows,” said Rabbi Apisdorf. “It’s all there. This was what was happening in the first years of Israel. By looking back on Memorial Day, at Moshiach ben Yosef, at those who fell building up the country, we can see our future geula (redemption), our Moshiach ben David that will be true independence, must inevitably be.”
Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, a prominent Jewish educator and bestselling author, explained that the stages represent a process, not individuals.
“There will certainly be a King of Israel from the House of David, but that person is the final conclusion of the process and period of time called Moshiach Ben David,” he said.
Rabbi Apisdorf identifies the modern period of Moshiach Ben Yosef with Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel and possibly the single most renowned and respected Zionistic rabbi to ever live in the state. In 1904, when Rabbi Kook eulogized Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, he referred to Herzl, a secular Jew, as the “beginnings of the Moshaich Ben Yosef”, and referred to the State of Israel as embodying Moshiach Ben Yosef, noting the similarities between the modern state and the Biblical character of Joseph.
“Joseph was the provider sent by God to save many from starvation, who sustained Jacob and his sons materially when they came to Egypt looking for grain, so in future generations, the descendants of Joseph would develop the material side of Jewish national existence,” Rabbi Kook wrote in his eulogy.
“Joseph was swallowed up by the nations, and was fluent in seventy languages. This last point symbolizes the connection between Israel and all the nations of the world we see today.”
Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf assigned a specific beginning point to Moshiach Ben Yosef by noting a remarkable coincidence. He explained that the day that Rabbi Kook arrived in Israel, the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar (May 13th 1904), became Jerusalem Day, the day Jerusalem was unified, precisely 63 years later. Jerusalem and the Third Temple are essential to the second stage of the Messiah: Moshiach Ben David.
“It seems clear to me that the period of Moshiach Ben David began on the day Rabbi Kook stepped onto the soil of the Holy Land,” Rabbi Apisdorf said.
Rabbi Apisdorf believes that Peres’ death signaled the transition point when the period of Moshiach Ben Yosef ended and the period of Moshiach Ben David took prominence. The rabbi expressed this historical process in spiritual terms.
“I sense that the period of Moshiach Ben Yosef ended with the burial of Shimon Peres, the last of the founding fathers of the state that embodied that process [of creating the state],” Rabbi Apisdorf said. “This is an unmistakable historic shift, and, remarkably, it was as if the whole world acknowledged this by running to Jerusalem to be present for that Messianic shift.
“If this is true, then beginning this past Shabbat, and then as the New Year began, the transition period ended, and we are now solely in the period of Moshiach Ben David,” explained Rabbi Apisdorf