I grew up in Canada, and compared to the United States; we were much more low-key in expressing our nationalism. Americans grow up with a flag in every classroom, and each morning children would pledge allegiance to it.
This week in Israel was Yom Yerushalayim, the 55th anniversary of the reunification of the eternal capital of Israel. For days before the celebration, flags were flown from every lamppost and building—one for the city of Jerusalem and one for the State of Israel.
If you research your country’s flag, you will find out why certain colors, shapes, and symbols were used. The flag of Israel was originally going to be something completely different– Herzl imagined seven stars representing the seven hours of a work day. But thankfully, the tallit (prayer shawl) became the inspiration for what we have today. The blue was chosen from the “techeilit” tassels described in the Torah that adorn the tallit and tzitzit, evoking the blue of the heavens.
But it is the double-triangled Magen David that evokes what the Jewish people are all about. It is one interconnected symbol representing the Jewish people, yet it has 12 sides, one for every tribe.
Beginning this Saturday night, Jews worldwide will celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, marking the day G-d gave us the Torah at Mt. Sinai. At the mountain, we were one, encamped in the singular, described as one people with one heart.
This week’s Parsha, Bamidbar, describes how each of the tribes of Israel had its own flag, marching under it through the desert.
We are one, yet we are not the same– Achdut v’lo Achiydut– unity without uniformity.
Think for a moment, if you were to design a flag for your personal family, what symbols and colors would you use and why?