Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Star and the Flag

Gershom Scholem wrote an article about the Star of David where he said that 

"There is no reason to assume that it was used for any purposes other than decorative".

Uri Ofir wrote a research about the origin of the Jewish Magen David where he said:

"I didn't like the scholarly version presented by Gershom Sholem that every nation needs an emblem and that's why we adopted the Magen David (Star of David). Actually he didn't suggest any solution as regards the origin of the Magen David (Star of David). Beyond that I was convinced that on the level of values it's impossible to educate on the basis of opinions such as this".

These two excerpts led me to assume that Gershom Scholem didn't like the fact that the Star of David was chosen for the Israeli flag but then I found an article by Mark Verstandig who wrote :

"Gershom Scholem, the great Jewish scholar JUSTIFIED choosing the Star of David for the Israeli flag because the Jews were murdered under this sign. This sign has been sanctified by suffering and has become worthy of illuminating the path to life and reconstruction".

I think that the place of the Star of David is on the Israeli flag due to three main reasons:

1. The holocaust (as Gershom Scholem thought)

2. Its origin from the tabernacle Menorah (as Uri Ofir thinks)

3. Most of the Israelis think that's the place where it should be!


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Pamela Levene said...

The flag of Israel was designed and adopted in 1885! Two members of the newly-founded community of Rishon le Zion took the talit (prayer shawl) of Zeev Abramovitch,one of the founders. They then sewed a blue Star of David on it. This began as a banner and rapidly spread throughout the country to become the symbol of a state in the making.

Yes, even this early the Jews, who were buying and redeeming their home-land as fast as they could, were preparing for the day when they would achieve their goal.

It was this flag that naturally became official when the State of Israel came into being. It may well have been influenced by the idea of reclaiming our star which had been used as a symbol of persecution by our enemies so recently. Sadly the Shoah was just the last in a long line. Jews had been forced to wear the star as far back as the middle ages.

You can see that original flag in the museum in Rishon le Zion.

Hope this is of interest!

Pamela Levene (licenced tour guide and unlicenced lover of Israel!)

p.s. your site is fascinating! Keep up the good work

Pamela Levene said...

The Star of David as a Jewish symbol has surprisingly only been around a few hundred years. (Prague is considered the first place we saw it being used) Five pointed stars connected with the Kabbalah are much older.

The six-pointed star has been used in India and Arabia for far longer. Which is why I always wonder why some Israeli Arabs object to having a flag that "isn't theirs". Ironically (I don’t think it was intentional) this symbol IS appropriate to both Jews and Arabs and it would be nice if someone pointed it out.

By the way if Dan Brown wanted to truly represent our ancient symbol in the Da Vinci Code, he should have chosen the Menorah. The Menorah has been discovered in many places in Israel. I don’t know which the oldest is (maybe another poster could supply the answer?) but I have seen a two thousand year old menorah that was drawn into the wet plaster of the wall in the home of one of the Cohanim of the Second Temple. And I believe those found in archaeological digs are much older.

The menorah today is of course our national symbol, not the Magen David. It is displayed whenever official state business is conducted; it is on our coins; all official government correspondence , etc.

I have never heard your explanation of why we made the Magen David on the flag official. I do know that Ben Gurion chose the Menorah as our state symbol because he said the Romans had stolen the original and it had become the symbol of our dispersion … so now we were back, we were reclaiming it! Which is why the base is a solid one, copying the menorah that appears on the Arch of Titus in Rome.

Since we found the two thousand year old menorah mentioned above, it has confirmed what we should have known from descriptions in the Bible – the menorah had a tripod base! But we can forgive Ben Gurion because this was only discovered after the reuniting of Jerusalem in 1967!