Ayin L'Zion (עין לציון, "eye toward Zion") is a play on words…and numbers! During the year of Israel's 70th birthday, all eyes have been on her. ציון – or Zion – is one of 70 biblical names for Jerusalem, and today, is loosely used as a name for Israel. This phrase is taken from Hatikvah, Israel's national anthem, where it speaks of 2,000 years of longing to return to Israel and always having an "eye" on Zion.
The phrase la’sim ayin al… (...לשים עין על) colloquially translates as ‘to keep an eye out for…’ or to watch, guard, and protect. The English translation of ayin (עין) is 'eye,' and also a play on ‘I’ - thus rooting this learning as learner-centered. Ayin is also a letter of the aleph bet with the gematriah (the numerical value of each letter of the aleph bet) of 70.
Using timeless texts from our long-standing tradition, we pause to reflect on Israel’s past, present, and future as we celebrate the timely occasion of Israel’s 70th year of independence. Where in Jewish sources does the number 70 arise? What weight does that number give to the text? In turn, what understanding of all those 70s can we take and apply to the State of Israel’s upcoming birthday?