April 20, 2014
Dedicated to my father, Rabbi Paul M. Katz of blessed memory.
In the book of Ezekiel, chapter 37, there is a very unusual prophecy. It speaks of a time when the nation of Israel would reach its lowest state. Indeed, throughout our history this has happened many times, each time reaching a new low. My ancestor Don Isaac Abarbanel in the year 1464 predicted that this would happen soon. The people of Israel had already suffered unprecedented suffering under the fanatical Christians of what is now known as Spain. But as tragic as the situation was, he said it would become worse. And of course, the Spanish Inquisition, led by the Catholic Church in 1492, was the worst persecution we had ever experienced, unspeakable horrors, torture and burning at the stake.
But here in the book of Ezekiel, we are told of a prophecy, one that gave hope to our people throughout the ages. The prophecy is too "fantastic and unrealistic" to be taken literally but yet...in our own times...
God transported Ezekiel—probably not literally, but in a vision—to a valley full of dry bones and directed him to speak to the bones. Ezekiel was to tell the bones that God would make breath enter the bones and they would come to life, just as in the creation of man when He breathed life into Adam (Genesis 2:7). Ezekiel obeyed, the bones came together, flesh developed, skin covered the flesh, breath entered the bodies, and they stood up in a vast army. This vision symbolized the whole house of Israel that was then in captivity. Like unburied skeletons, the people were in a state of living death.
My father, Rabbi Paul M. Katz, may he rest in peace, in his own lifetime felt he had experienced the fulfillment of this prophecy; out of the ashes of Auschwitz and the thousands of concentration camps, the Nation of Israel was reborn. Today we stand tall. We are a force to be reckoned with.
I bring you here the ancient prophecy, and the photos of its fulfillment.
The hand of God was upon me, and he carried me out in the spirit of God, and he set me down in the midst of a valley and it is full of bones.
and he brought me around and around and behold they are very many upon the valley and they are very dry.
And He said to me, Son of man! Shall these bones live? and I said lord God you know.
And he said to me, Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of God. Thus says God to these bones. Behold I will bring in you spirit, and you shall live. and I will lay sinews upon you, and I will bring flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am God.
So I prophesied as I was commanded, and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And as I beheld, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them. But there was still no breath in them.
And He said to me prophesy to the spirit, prophesy Son of Man! and say to the spirit, Thus says the Lord God, come from the four winds, O spirit, and breath upon these slain that they many live.
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceeding great army.
Then he said to me, Son of Man, these bones are the whole house of Yisrael, behold, they say, our bones are dried, and our hope is lost, we are cut off.
Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus says the Lord God, here I am opening your graves and I will take you out of your graves and bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am God as I open your graves my nation.
And I shall put my spirit in you and you shall live and I shall place you on your land and you shall know that I am God.
I have spoken and I have done. The speech of God.
My own nephew is among these soldiers.
One of my nephews is in this photo.