By MICHAEL FREUND, JPOST—
Today, the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, marks the anniversary of one of the most important events in the history of the Jewish people.
According to the Book of Joshua (4:19), it was on this day, exactly 3,327 years ago, that the people of Israel traversed the Jordan River and entered the Land of Israel as a nation for the first time.
Nonetheless, despite its significance, this momentous occasion is one of the least commemorated installments in our people’s saga, and it is time for this to change.
Indeed, now more than ever, we need to embrace the tenth of Nisan and turn it into a national holiday – Land of Israel Day – one that will reconnect us with our ancient birthplace and underline our eternal bond with our collective patrimony.
Consider the following. How many millennial-old civilizations can point to the exact date when they came to take possession of their national home? This alone is compelling proof of our historic connection to this Land.
And if the precise day that Joshua led the tribes of Israel across the river was important enough to be cited in the Bible, then shouldn’t it be marked appropriately? Not only that, but according to tradition, we even know the site where it all took place: at a spot now called Qasr al Yahud (which is Arabic for the “Castle of the Jews”).
This might be a reference to the monument established by Joshua as described in the Biblical narrative.
“On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho,” the text says. “And Joshua set up at Gilgal the 12 stones they had taken out of the Jordan”, after which he told the Israelites that, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’, tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground,'” just as they had miraculously crossed the Red Sea.
Imagine if a national ceremony were to be held each year at the location where this occurred, one that brought together the president, the prime minister, the chief rabbis, and Jewish leaders from around the world. It would serve to highlight our renewed commitment to this Land to which we have returned after 2,000 years of exile.
And it would reinforce the fact that our claim to this territory predates that of our Arab neighbors.
Inaugurating such a holiday, which could include a wide range of educational, social and cultural activities stressing the Jewish people’s attachment to this holy soil, would also be an effective means of teaching the next generation to appreciate how fortunate we are to be here.
After all, in recent decades, Israel’s legitimacy has come under unprecedented assault, as a growing chorus of voices in the international community seeks to compel the Jewish state to pull back from parts of our homeland.
This makes it all the more essential to accentuate our roots here and to point out that 33 centuries after Joshua and the tribes of Israel crossed the Jordan, the Jewish people are once again making the journey home.
To be sure, there will be those who will howl in protest at the idea, denouncing it as nationalistic, atavistic or worse.
But let them shriek all they wish.
In order to survive in an increasingly hostile world, Israel must reclaim its sense of self and reassert the justness of its cause.
The tenth day of Nisan is when it all began, so instead of allowing the day to pass by as usual, let’s celebrate it with all the pomp and ceremony that it deserves.
To borrow a phrase from the recent election campaign, we must stop apologizing for winning, for persevering, and for existing, and we must start to proclaim in a loud and clear voice that this Land belongs to us and nobody else.
So have a happy Land of Israel Day, and may it serve to strengthen our resolve never to forsake this very special place.