By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 6, 2009

Kadimah as everyone knows is the largest party in Israels governing coalition. By all accounts, the naming of the party was pure smoke and mirrors, the creation of a brand by marketing strategists with a keen sense of what would sell to the Israel public.

Kadimah in modern Hebrew means forward, or come on, lets do it. It is what commanders say leading their troops into battle, and also how bus drivers tell you to move down inside the bus. It has an action-oriented, go-ahead sound to it.

It is from the Hebrew root kadam, meaning to advance, do first or precede. A famous use in the Talmud is that God caused Israels donations of half shekels to the Temple to precede (and so protect against) Hamans shekels purchasing the right to harm the Jewish people (Megilah 13b).

Kedem also means east, the compass point from which the sun appears first. It is where the garden of Eden was, and the direction in which Jacob set off from his fathers house. These two meanings come together in the line from Hatikvah, about turning eastwards, kadimah, where it means in the direction of Zion, and expresses the hope that Zionism would be a big step forward in the Jewish story. Appealing to Israelis inchoate optimism, it offers hope that the country will be heading in a better direction.

Last updated: 12:32pm, March 6 2009