From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses offaith are everywhere...
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Ben-Gurion: Call of the Negev
Negev (Photo by David Shankbone)
When David Ben-Gurion (then David Gruen from Plonsk, Poland) first came to Ottoman Palestine in 1906, he helped to found the kibbutz movement.He worked as an orange picker on the “Sejera Farm” (which later became Degania Alef).
Ben-Gurion never forgot this experience.As Prime Minister of Israel, he continually emphasized the age-old relationship between the land and its people.When he first resigned from office in 1953, Ben-Gurion moved to Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev.Although he returned to political life in 1955, Ben-Gurion kept his ties with Sde Boker until his death in 1973.He and his wife Paula are buried at nearby Midreshet Ben-Gurion - a communal settlement that carries on Ben-Gurion’s back-to-the-land ideals.
Ben-Gurion was a prolific author, and Wikipedia offers these quotes from his writings about the Negev:The desert provides us with the best opportunity to begin again.This is a vital element of our renaissance in Israel.For it is in mastering nature that man learns to control himself…The trees at Sde Boker speak to me differently than do the trees planted elsewhere.Not only because I participated in their
planting and in their maintenance, but also because they are a gift of man to nature and a gift of the Jews to the compost of their culture.
The Hebrew Bible reflects a similar relationship between the Negev and holy renewal.Jewishvirtuallibrary.org reports that this is the wilderness “where man met God.”It is here that “Abraham communed with God” – and it is here that Elijah encountered the Creator.It is also here that Abraham and
Isaac dug wells and formed alliances with Abimelech (see Genesis 21).
It is here, too, that Hagar cried out for her son’s life - and it is here that the Angel of God assured her:Arise, lift up the lad, and holdhim fast by thy hand; for I will make him a great nation (Genesis 21:18).
Nations may sharply differ, yet it seems essential to remember that these common roots remain firmly planted within the sands of the great Negev.