Did you know that the roots and origins of the flag of Israel can be found in the Torah?
The familiar blue and white flag with the Star of David in the middle is the official flag and primary symbol of the State of Israel. It was signed into law on October 28, 1948 – five months after the establishment of the State of Israel. It seems that the flag of Israel made its first appearance, in the form that we are all familiar with today, in 1891 as the flag of the Zionist movement.
The flag of Israel was intended to represent the talit, the Jewish prayer shawl, which often takes the form of blue stripes on a white background. The Magen David, the Star of David, of course, is an ancient Jewish symbol. Worthy of an article in its own right, some suggest that the Magen David was first used by King David himself or by his son, King Solomon.
What we have, therefore, are two ancient, well-known and prominent Jewish symbols that come together to serve as the flag of the State of Israel. This sentiment was expressed by David Wolffsohn (1856–1914), one of the early Zionist leaders responsible for the flag becoming official. He wrote:
“At the behest of our leader Herzl, I came to Basel to make preparations for the Zionist Congress. Among many other problems that occupied me then was one that contained something of the essence of the Jewish problem. What flag would we hang in the Congress Hall? Then an idea struck me. We have a flag — and it is blue and white. The talit with which we wrap ourselves when we pray: that is our symbol. Let us take this talit from its bag and unroll it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all nations. So I ordered a blue and white flag with the Shield of David painted upon it. That is how the national flag that flew over Congress Hall came into being.”
The Flag of Israel Truly Represents the Jewish State
Blue is a prominent and frequently reoccurring color of the bible, known as techelet. For example, the strings of tzitzit are supposed to include a blue thread. Why exactly this blue thread is rarely worn today is a topic beyond the scope of this article. However, it is in memory of the blue string that blue stripes began to be woven into the Tallit. So too, the clothing of the Kohanim (priests) included the biblical blue as did many of the implements and utensils of the Tabernacle.
As we can see, blue has always been a special color in Judaism. It is the color of the sky and sea – the primary creations of “the Heavens and the Earth.” We are taught that God’s throne is blue like the sky. Blue is also the primary color of Kabbalah, as it is said to ward off the “Evil Eye.” Those who have visited the mystical city of Tzfat (Safed) can attest to the prominent appearance of the color blue throughout the city.
It is interesting to note that Israel holds the world record for the largest national flag ever displayed. The 2007 World Record Flag, which was unveiled near Masada, was manufactured in the Philippines and measured 660 x 100 meters (2,165 x 330 feet) and weighed 5.2 metric tones. It was produced by one of Israel’s greatest non-Jewish friends, Grace Galindez-Gupana, as a gesture of support for Israel.