Hashem has recollected His nation, and with miracles and awesome wonders we have been returned to our land after a long and bitter exile. Blessed is Hashem Whose kindness has overwhelmed us, Who has taken us from death to life, from darkness to light, from subjugation under the nations of the world to freedom in Eretz Yisrael which grant her fruits to those that return to her.

It is apparent from the Navi Yechezkel (chapters 36-37) that the redemption unfolds in stages and levels.

The first stage is the ingathering of the exiles, the secret of the limbs of our body beginning to function in tandem once more. The is the secret of, “And the bones came together, bone to matching bone” – closeness, a communal connection. This is what we are seeing in our having returned to our land, living next to one another in close proximity, no longer spread among the four winds of the world.

After this stage comes the descent of the living spirit, the soul which flows within all of these limbs, binding them into one being instead of a mere collection of bones arranged next to each other. This stage brings true connection, total negation of the individual limbs as they exist independent of one another, producing a homogeneous structure; a complete body living a collective communal life as well as a life devoted to the Shechinah.

These two stages are expressed clearly in the verses which present the Vision of the Dry Bones. So says the prophet:

“I prophesied as I had been commanded. And while I was prophesying, suddenly there was a sound of rattling, and the bones came together, bone to matching bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had grown, and skin had formed over them; but there was no spirit in them.”

This is the first stage, the gathering of the bones one to the other. Additionally, flesh and sinews are added upon them, expressing the early stages of life, for the dry bones of a skeleton are not covered by flesh. Thus it is similar to a live person, whose bones are covered by skin. However, it still lacks a living spirit which dictates the purpose of the body in such a way that brings completion to the bones and binds them together in the bonds of a common essence. After this, an additional prophecy is recorded, containing a vision of the second stage of redemption which stands independent of the first – the descent of the spirit. So says the prophet:

“Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, O mortal! Say to the spirit: Thus said the Lord Hashem: Come, O spirit, from the four winds, and breathe into these slain, that they may live again.” I prophesied as He commanded me. The spirit entered them, and they came to life and stood up on their feet, a vast multitude.”

Until this point represents the recounting of an analogy. From this point onward, Hashem explains the meaning to the prophet and the way it is referring to am Yisrael’s return from exile, the aspect of death, to redemption, which is an awakening to a new kind of life. So says the prophet:

“And He 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 the Lord Hashem: 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 Hashem, when I have opened your graves and lifted you out of your graves.”

Look and see the first stage, the opening of our graves and our ascent to the land of the Jewish nation. This is represented by the bones coming together but lacking a collective living spirit to bind them as one.

After this will come the second stage, as the verse states:

“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, Hashem, have spoken and have acted” – the words of Hashem.”

It is only after our ascent to the land that the spirit will descend, and it is only when the spirit descends that we will truly be settled on our land, aware of the secret of our redemption, in control of our land, and bound with our national identity, as we will explain in the coming chapters.

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Rav Reuven Sasson
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