Law of Return: For Politically Correct Jews Only

With all the atrocities and crimes against Judaism that the Israeli Government has committed since its inception, perhaps there was always one saving grace and merit that protected Israel from the Almighty’s wrath. The Law of Return, that “racist” law enabling any Jew to become a citizen and live in the Holy Land has always been the “last line of defense”, giving the country some semblance of Jewish character.

But now the government of Israel has put an end to that too. Last week, eight Jews were prevented entry into the Holy Land of Israel! “For they have driven me out this day from being joined to the inheritance of the Lord” (Shmuel 1, 26:9) As if the Land of Israel is their private property where they can pick and choose who can and cannot join G-d’s inheritance!

This attitude that Israel is their own private property might be a little more understandable if it stemmed from the attitude that the land of Israel belongs to them. But what can one say when they prevent Jews from entering the land, and in the same breath, they hand over piece by piece of it to the cruelest of enemies?

Who were the Jews that were forbidden entry into their beloved homeland? Are we speaking of traitors, G-d forbid? No. We are speaking of members of the Jewish Defense League. We are talking about Jews who twenty-five years ago struggled for the release of hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews, so they could emigrate to the same country which today denies these people entry.

But what is most obscene is the deafening silence of the “national right-wing” camp. All this can only remind us of Har Manoach near Hebron,which is now where the Local Palestinian Police Station is based. What irony? Har Manoach was the hilltop where Rabbi Kahane and his followers setup a settlement called “El-Nakam”, in memory of Eli HaZeev, HY”D. The settlement was dismantled by Moshe Arens of the Likud, with the cooperation of the Kiryat Arba Local Council, which “did not want extremists near her”. And now, since there is no longer a Jewish presence in that area, it is considered “yellow” on the new map, and Kiryat Arba now has Palestinian “moderates” as neighbors instead of Jewish “extremists”.

And on this, it is was said: “YOU DIDN’T WANT KAHANE – SO YOU GOT ARAFAT!”

Yom Kippur: Next Year in Jerusalem, Maybe

The synagogue if filled from end to end.  Every seat is reserved, every inch of space taken up.  The Yom Kippur Neila service is drawing to an end.  A day of repentance, prayer and charity fades to a close.  A congregation, elevated for a day at least, watches as the Shofar is raised and a long clear, vibrant blast fills the hall.  Five hundred voices cry out spontaneously – 

L’Shana Ha’Ba’ah B’ Yerusalayim!  “Next year in Jerusalem!” 

The crowd files out to begin yet another year of bitter exile amidst television and Miami Beach. 

The synagogue is dark and hushed.  A few candles flutter in the corners, their flickering flames lighting the pained and saddened faces of the congregation sitting on low benches waiting for the Tisha B’Av services to begin and the mournful tune of the Eycha – Lamentations – rises softly, punctuated by the sobs of the mourners for Zion.  Every mind is shattered as the picture of the beloved homeland, bereft of its children, comes to mind.  Every pious Jew sitting in the room sighs and dreams of the day – may it soon come – when G-d will allow him to, once again, kiss the soil of the homeland – courtesy of a three-weeks American Jewish Congress guided tour, and then back home again to the painful fleshpots. 

The dream of settling in Israel is a basic part of the Jewish faith.  It is an obligation but it is more than that:  “It is a dream.  How many seas would the tears of our ancestors have filled as they wept for the privilege of returning to Zion?  How piercing would have been the totality of their cries as they prayed to the yoke of nations and bring us upright to our land!” 

Who can begin to fully quote the letter of the obligatory law to settle in the Land of Israel as expounded by our rabbis and who can adequately describe the acceptance of the spirit of that obligation by our ancestors, the dreamers of Zion?  What would they not have given for the opportunity of returning and walking four cubits on its soil?  How they would have flocked to the airports and harbors as the great vision approached fulfillment! 

I write this as a traditional, observant Jew.  For myself I have written and spoken and pleaded a thousand times over to all Jews of America to leave and return to Israel – not for religious reasons – but for the elementary need to save their lives.  I believe in the marrow of my bones that the days of the Jew in the Untied States are numbered and that there is coming a storm of physical brutality that portends a holocaust.  What 48 prophets could not convince Jews to do, says the Talmud, Haman’s ring accomplished.  There is a Haman’s ring in the American Jewish future and for the sake of our children and grandchildren the time to evacuate is now.  I have said this and will continue to say this to all Jews.  But, for the observant ones there is another, an added; perhaps, an even more important reason. 

Every traditional Jew must take a long and deep look at himself.  He must ask difficult and painful questions.  How is it possible to honestly pray three times a day to the Almighty to restore us to Zion when that restoration is ours at a cost of a few hundred dollars, courtesy of El Al?  What rationalizations can we invent to answer those who question our lamentations for Zion when the Jewish Agency is prepared to grant long-term loans for housing and transportation for those who wish to settle in Israel?  What can hide our shame as we fervently proclaim “Next Year in the Land of Israel” when next year has already come, when the gates of the Holy Land stand open, when the obligation to return can and demands to be fulfilled? 

All this has nothing to do with the particular religious Jew’s attitude toward the government or State of Israel.  We speak here, not of political Zionism, but of the original and permanent obligation to go up and settle the Holy Land – an obligation that is clear and binding upon all – from the Mizrachi through the Agudat Israel to Amram Blau and the Neturei Karta. 

What kind of Jews are we who profess a Judaism that builds up a dream in ritual and prayer – until it is at the very center of our aspirations – and then make a mockery of it in practice?  Those who are able to return and do not must cease to weep salted tears and put an end to insincere lamentations.  Let us rather admit that we have eaten too long at the fleshpots of galut – exile – and that the bribery of the good life has compromised and blinded us.  When a famous Rosh Yeshiva chided Ben Gurion on the secularism of Israel, the then Prime Minister cunningly replied: “Let the American religious Jews come here and put me out of office.” 

He could well afford to be clever for he knew that most would not come.  The Catskills have overshadowed the hills of Jerusalem and the Rockaways conquered the Jordan and the Mediterranean.  Electric appliances have replaced the flame of sacrifice and the television set the Book of Lamentations.  In a sense it is symbolic of a general loss of ability to sacrifice on the part of the American Jew – and the religious one is little different.  It is a sad and dangerous thing. 

From the religious point of view there is a double tragedy here.  What power lies in the hands of a dynamic religious immigration!  What a noble impression and Kiddush Hashem – Sanctification of the Name – it would create in the young Israeli mind if religious Jews showed the courage of their convictions!  What a Jewish State could be shaped out of a State of Israel! 

Certainly it is difficult; to be sure there would have to be sacrifices in the economic standard of one’s life.  Yes, there is a language barrier and no doubt employment would be a problem for a time and life would not be quite as materially sweet as back home with the good life and the American Nazi Party.  But, since when has a religious Jew assumed that life was made to be sweet and that the Almighty placed him here so as to be comfortable?  Is the excuse of economic difficulty enough to justify, in the religious Jew’s mind, the rationale given him by the non-observant for violating even the rabbinical laws of Sabbath?  Is the Jew who tells us that economic need makes it imperative that his store remain open on the Sabbath since that is by far his busiest day, given dispensation?  Do we calmly accept the decision of people not to send their children to yeshivot because of the economic difficulty involved or do we call upon them to make that sacrifice that is needed for the great commandment of Torah study? 

Yet, here, on a question that every authority in the past has conceded is a religious obligation we find the religious Jew ready to join behind the Hadassahs , the ZOA’s and the Bnai Births in their shabby attempts to transform the galut – the exile – of America into such tortured sophistry as “chutz l’aretz” (outside the land).  The very one who girds his loins for battle against all who seek to lighten some other halachic burden now suddenly descends into the intricacies of pilpul to explain that in reality Maimonides believes that the settlement of the land is only a rabbinical injunction (thus “merely” putting it on the same level as eating chicken with milk or doing business on the Sabbath); that one is free of the obligation if there is danger; that there are economic difficulties, ad infinitum. 

No argument will blot out the shame of our craven surrender to materialism.  The words we mouth in our daily prayers; the slogans we shout at the conclusion of Yom Kippur and at our Passover Seder all become empty and meaningless words when we have no intention of following them.  It is up to the yeshivot to teach and to emphasize the religious obligation of a Jew to live in the Land of Israel.  It is up to the traditional congregation to take steps to implement it.  Mitzvat Yishuv Eretz Yisroel (the commandment to settle the Land of Israel) becomes more than merely another of the laws.  It becomes a mirror reflecting our weakness and hypocrisies.  Next Tisha B’Av it would do well for us to weep – not for the land but for ourselves. 


Kahane resources would like to thank Mrs. Barbara Ginsburg for providing the text of this article.

Vaetchanan: Eretz Yisrael: Part Of Our Identity

In Parshat Vaetchanan, we are witness to a dramatic exchange of words between G-d and Moshe. Moshe opens by requesting of G-d that He allow him to enter the Land of Israel. G-d refuses Moshe’s supplication unequivocally, stating: “It is too much for you! For you shall not cross this River Jordan.”(3:26-27) Not only was Moshe banned from entering the Land of Israel in his lifetime due to his sin at the waters of “Meriva” (where he smote the rock), but he was also prevented from being buried there after his death. The reason for this is brought down in the Midrash (Devarim Rabba, 8:2): “G-d said to Moshe, whoever acknowledges his homeland is buried in his homeland. Yosef acknowledged his homeland, as it is written (Breishit 40:15), “for indeed I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews…” You did not acknowledge your homeland…How? The daughters of Yitro said, “An Egyptian man saved us from the shepherds” (Shmot 2:19). You heard them and remained silent. Therefore you will not be buried in your homeland.”

What Does It Mean: “To Acknowledge Your Homeland”?
Two questions can be raised regarding this Midrash:

  1. How can Moshe be blamed for covering up his identity when the entire reason he fled to Midyan in the first place was because of his unending and burning love for his people?! Back in the book of Exodus, we saw that it was only a strong identification with his people which caused him to smite the Egyptian taskmaster who was striking a Jewish slave, causing his exile to Midyan. This being the case, why should Moshe, this genuine lover of Israel,be turned into one who does “not acknowledge his homeland”, just because hedid not correct the words of the daughters of Yitro? Did Moshe’s loyalty to his people need further proof after his awesome act, one which was motivated precisely by an identification with his people?
  2. Why does the Midrash specifically use the term “homeland”, when apparently what is being referred to is acknowledgment of “people” or “national identity”?!

One can see from this that the criticism against Moshe is not for a lack of identification with the people of Israel. Moshe undoubtedly proved himself in this regard. And so, it is clear that the use of the terminology “did not acknowledge his homeland” is used by the Midrash to teach us that Moshe was being punished for something else.

This matter of “not acknowledging his homeland” means that when fleeing to Midyan, Moshe felt that Egypt was his homeland. This is expressed in just a few verses following the story of the daughters of Yitro. There it is told that Moshe named his firstborn son Gershon, “because I was a stranger (ger) in a strange land”. That is, Moshe felt like a stranger, cut off from his natural habitat, Egypt. When the Midrash says Moshe did not acknowledge his homeland, it is faulting him for his feeling, even on a subconscious level, that Egypt is his homeland. After all, he was born and raised there. And so when the daughters of Yitro reported to their father, “an Egyptian man saved us”, Moshe’s lack of protest was not due to a fear of identifying himself with his nation and possibly endangering himself (especially when considering the reason he was fleeing Pharaoh). Rather, he did not protest because being identified as an “Egyptian” indicated one who resides in a certain geographical area. Moshe didn’t view this as a problem. His response should have been: “Me? A descendant of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov? An Egyptian? My place is Egypt? Heaven Forbid! Though I have never lived there, my homeland is Eretz Yisrael!” However, as we explained, this feeling did not sufficiently burn within him.

It is absolutely impossible to sever the connection between the Jewish People and the Jewish land. A Jew cannot say: I am a complete Jew, I love my people, and I cling to the Torah – but I do it in Brooklyn, London, or Miami Beach. There is no such thing. Part and parcel to the Jewish identity is his belonging to his land. A Jew who is cut off from his land is blemished, nomatter how “frum” he may be.

This is the reason the sages tell us that mitzvot which are fulfilled in the exile are not fulfilled properly, and are merely observed for practice so that we do not forget them when we come back to the land of Israel. Ibn Ezra writes in our parsha (4:10): “G-d knew they would be unable to do mitzvot properly when they are in lands under foreign control.” The Sforno adds (6:21): “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and since in our servitude we were unable to acquire the perfection directed to us from G-d, He miraculously took us out and brought us to a land where we would be able to acquire it completely.” Therefore, even though Moshe never saw his land, it was incumbent upon him to feel he was a man of Eretz Yisrael, and not of Egypt, which like all exiles, is an inevitable graveyard for the Jew. Moshe’s punishment was measure for measure. You did not acknowledge your homeland and felt that it was possible to be both a good Jew and at the same to be an “Egyptian” (a man of the land of Egypt). Therefore, you will not be buried in your land.

We, on the other hand, were born and raised in our homeland, or at least we live here now. We don’t have the problem of longing for some distant homeland which we have never seen. In any case, because of our long and bitter exile which saw us cut off from our homeland, we are currently in an abnormal situation where we feel a lack of connection and belonging to our one and only homeland, and are even willing to give it away. Eretz Yisrael is not just some “piece of real estate” – it is the land of G-d – the Land of Israel, the Holy Land.

Tazria-Metzora: Faith, Faith, And There Is No Faith

The entire subject of the various skin disorders that are dealt with in Parshat “Tazria” and “Mazora” is perceived as one huge mystery by many. What is the possible importance of all this?

A story brought down in Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat “Tazria” teaches us a tremendous idea that lies behind this entire subject of skin disorders and blemishes dealt with in the parsha. The midrash tells us about a certain cohen in the Land of Israel who was greatly impoverished. Due to his economic stress, he decided to do what so many do today for the same reason – to go overseas. Since the occupation of the cohen included diagnosing skin blemishes (only the cohen can examine the disorder and determine if it is pure or not), he felt a responsibility towards his “clients”, and proceeded to teach his wife the tricks of the trade so she could cover for him while he was out of town. The cohen taught her the basic principle of skin disorders: “If you see that the water source of one of the person’s body hairs dried up, know that he has been stricken. Because for each and every strand of hair on the body, Hashem created for it its own life-source from which it nurtures. If the well dries up, the hair dries up.”

The midrash continues to tell us that when his wife heard this rule, she sharply criticized her husband the cohen and said, “And G-d created for each and every hair on the body its own individual life-source or well from which to drink from – you being a human being with lots and lots of hair, and your children depend on you for support, isn’t it all the more so that G-d will provide for you sustenance?” And the midrash concludes: “And thus she did not let him leave Israel!”

Though this cohen might have been dealing with skin disorders his entire life, he only understood the technical side of this mitzvah. What his valiant wife taught him was the idea or lesson that lies behind this matter, that despite all his knowledge of the details, he did not grasp. And what is the idea? That even in something that at first glance might seem trivial and mundane like skin blemishes, there is concealed the concept of G-d’s incredibly precise “Hashgacha” (Divine Providence) over every thing in this world. What may seem to us as some “coincidental” stain with hair, takes on an entirely different meaning when we understand that a “little” thing like that exists for a reason, and there is Someone up there running the show even when it comes to individual cuticles – for everything has a purpose. This woman came along and immediately corrected her husband by saying: You want to try to outsmart Hashem? Well, if Hashem decreed that you will suffer poverty, all attempts to evade G-d’s Will will be fruitless, and certainly if it includes leaving Israel which is against the “Halacha”.

This cohen is nothing more than an example of most religious Jews today. Without a doubt, he too awoke each morning and went to synagogue. He too said “I believe”, and set a fixed time each day to learn Torah. But in both instances when it comes to the moment of truth on both a personal and national level, all the “emunah” that is proclaimed remains just lip service when it has to be applied in real life situations. Even righteous Jews are not spared from this trap. The sages tell us in Trachtate Sota (48): “What cause the righteous to receive less of a portion in the Next World? Smallness (small “emunah” – Rashi) that was in them!”

He who gets up and says that parts of the Land of Israel which we are commanded to conquer must be handed over to the gentiles because of “Pekuach Nefesh”; that it is forbidden to perform certain acts of “Kiddush Hashem” because “what will the world say”; that the fulfillment of the Divine Commandment, “And you shall disinherit the inhabitants of the land” are not practical because America will stop supporting us – such people fall into the same category as the above cohen. For they suddenly “forgot” that the same Master of the World who commanded us to live in the Land of Israel and to conquer it, also sends us “parnassa” and “bitachon”.

What is missing today is that simple woman of simple faith to get up and shout: If God has Divine Providence over every single hair on the body and determines by Himself whether that hair will live or die, for sure he is watching over his Chosen People! And if G-d indeed watches over His people, could anything possibly go wrong if that people cling to His commandments, even those that seem “dangerous”?!

If one claims that fulfilling God’s Will is “dangerous” – it really does not matter if that person wears a yarmulke, a strimel, long coat or none of the above, for he is just like that above cohen — of little faith and with little to teach us.

Vayigash: The Exile Self-Destructs For the “Comfortable” Jew

The Egyptian exile which is defined by our sages as the first exile, begins in Parshat Vayigash. Yaakov and sons make “yireda” to Egypt, and from this point onward, the arduous and torturous road from “galut” (exile) to “giula” (redemption) begins. Since the sages tell us that the first redemption from Egypt is a symbol of the final redemption, we will tackle one point concerning the Egyptian exile and derive a crucial lesson for our generation.

It is interesting that in every exile a definite pattern develops. Each exile that the Jews encountered began as a result of terrible affliction suffered by the Jews in the Land of Israel. First, it was the suffering of Yaakov and his lost son and the heavy famine prevailing in the Land of Canaan that brought on a departure to the first exile called Egypt. Afterwards, it was the second exile of the dispersion of the ten tribes until the destruction of the first Temple and the massive spilling of blood in Jerusalem. Finally, the last exile which began with the brutal war against the Romans on Jerusalem and culminated in the destruction of the second Temple and the killing of millions of Jews in Jerusalem.

What is astonishing is that in all of the above exiles, after a very short period of adaptation, Jews discovered that life in the galut wasn’t so bad. All the troubles they experienced in Eretz Yisrael suddenly ended, and they started to thrive and prosper…at least in the beginning.

This is exactly what happened in Egypt, and on this point, the great commentator, the “Kli Hayakar” elaborates. On the final verse in our parsha, “And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, and THEY GRIPPED ONTO IT, and were fruitful and multiplied exceedingly”, the “Kli Hayakar”, brings down the following on the phrase “they gripped onto it”: “The children of Israel are entirely to blame for this verse. Because the Lord decreed on them that a ‘stranger your seed will be’ (that is, temporary), and they wanted to be inhabitants (that is, permanent) in a place where it was decreed upon them to be transient … this verse comes to place blame on this settling in, since they gripped onto a land that wasn’t theirs.”

What happened here? The children of Yaakov were forced to go down to Egypt, and none of them were thrilled about the idea despite the hardships in Canaan, because they knew that Egypt is, after all, the exile. However, in a short time they had a change of heart. Joseph placed at their disposal the land of Goshen, which was the most fertile area of Egypt, and the brothers suddenly began to feel that “it’s not as bad as we thought”. One can even settle down in peace and tranquillity and learn Torah here. What is so bad about it? So they “gripped” and clung to Egypt, and by this very doing so, were automatically rejecting the Holy Land of Israel. This “seizing” or “gripping” of the exile, the settling in and feeling good there, the acquiring of the mentality that “there is life for the Jews in the Diaspora” (a mealy-mouthed word for “galut” or exile), expresses in itself a rejection or “despising of the good land” (a verse in Psalms depicting the ten spies who spoke evil report about the land of Israel and prevented “Aliyah”). In their hearts, and all the moreso in the hearts of their offspring, crept in the feeling that it is a good life here in exile and one can build Jerusalem here, and the dream of returning to Zion can wait for the next generation (if at all), but in the meantime, it remains strictly a “dream”…

This is the crime of all exiles. Our sages told us long ago about this phenomenon in a midrash on a verse in the “tochacha” of Parshat Ki-Tavowhere it is written, “you will find no resting place for the soul of your foot”. The sages comment, “if they would find a resting place, they would not come back.” In other words, if the Jews could stay in galut, they would do so without any intention of returning to Eretz Yisrael, all the while building for themselves all kinds of theories why it is “kosher” to do so.

But the gentile never allowed the Jew to remain in the galut. On the contrary, the more that the exile initially seemed to be full of promise, and the more the Jew was able to attain “equal rights” to the gentile, so, too, in direct proportion, was the tragedy of the exile that much more severe. Every exile turned into a bigger graveyard than the one before it.

This is exactly what happened to our forefathers in Egypt. The aforementioned “Kli Hayaker” continues: “And they immersed themselves to such an extent that they did not want to leave Egypt, until G-d had to take them out of there with a strong hand. And those who did not want to leave, died in the three days of darkness”. The “Kli Hayakar” touches here upon what is mentioned in Parshat “Beshallach”, where four-fifths of the children of Israel were wiped out before the departure from Egypt, because they refused to leave.

It is a divine decree that the exile, each and every one of them, has no future. This is an iron-clad law in Judaism. For this reason we find that in the poverty stricken lands which the Jews did not or could not “grip onto” as much, their exile was terminated in a more merciful and lenient fashion. This, of course, in contrast to the “lands of the fleshpots”, whose ends were woefully tragic. This article was not written to give a history lesson. We are simply coming to say that this particular exile has come to an end. The doors of many exiles have been opened, including those whose doors became symbols like Russia and Syria. Every Jew has now been given the chance to get out. We have reached the final stage in the elimination of the exile. He who refuses to seize the moment and leave quickly will find his fate as those who refused to leave Egypt.

Many may think that all this is not relevant for us who live here in Israel. After all, don’t we have our own problems here? This is un-Jewish thinking, for we are guarantors for our brothers in the exile. And despite the fact that we here, too, stand before terrible tragedy, we have a responsibility to our brothers abroad who face, G-d forbid, much greater catastrophe than what will occur in Israel. Ultimately, our destiny is wrapped up in theirs, and we must wake up to this fast, for we are now in the “End of Days” – days in which our prophets warned us can come the way of “Bi-Eta” (in its time), which is the way of awesome suffering and labor pains of redemption, worse than anything we have experienced in exile. And if this is true, how can one sit by quietly?

Vayetze: Time to Go Home

It is a well-know Torah principle that, “the actions of the fathers are precedents for the sons.” The Rambam in his introduction to the Book of Exodus explains: “All the events (that the founding fathers of the Israelite Nation experience) are like pictures of things that hint and inform us of all that will occur to them (the Israelite Nation) in the future) in the future.” This rule not only applies to positive actions, but to negative actions as well. Indeed, Rabbi Kahane often pointed out how the conflict between Jacob and Laban that is recounted in parshat Vayetze provides us with a prototype of Jewish-Gentile relations that remain valid as long as the Jews abide in the lands of their dispersion.

First, Jacob is forced to flee his home due to the fact that Esau plots to murder him as vengeance for an alleged wrong, “Behold, Esau your brother comforts himself (by planning) to kill you. And now my son, listen to me and arise, flee to Laban, my brother in Haran.” (Genesis 27:42)

Jacob makes the wearying journey, full of travails and diversions, and finally arrives, penniless, in his new place of residence. He immediately seeks and finds work (as a shepherd) and begins to rebuild his life. He works hard and is scrupulously honest: “These past 20 years that I was with you, your sheep did not miscarriage and the rams of your flock I did not eat. I did not bring you a carcass (of a dead sheep attacked by wild animals) without reimbursing you, and took responsibility (for stolen sheep) whether stolen in the day or night” (ibid 40). For his trouble he is repeatedly cheated and ripped off by his employer Laban, “You have switched my wages (i.e. contract) ten times” (ibid 41). And yet, despite this, his dilligence and faith in G-d pay off: “And the man increased (his wealth) very much (ibid 30:43).

Yes, Jacob became a financial mogul with influential connections and an impressive mass of wealth and possessions to boot. He had “made it”. He had reached the highest echelons of society. What could possibly go wrong? “And he heard the sons of Laban saying, Jacob has taken all that belongs to our father and it is from our father’s possessions that he has glorified himself. And Jacob saw Laban’s expression (when looking at Jacob) and it was different from that way it has always been” (ibid 31:12). The atmosphere grows thick with jealousy. The hatred that accompanies it spawns false accusations and outright lies: “The Jews control the economy! The Jews are feeding off of us! It’s the Jews fault!”

Jacob, an honest and law-abiding citizen of Padan Aram finds himself, once again, in physical danger regardless of his innocent intentions and contributions to society. He is momentarily shocked. What has he done to deserve this? The “old friend” of yesterday is the new enemy of today. He realizes he has overstayed his welcome, but hangs on a little longer. Eventually he hits the road only to begin somewhere else where the same nightmare can be replayed again.

This, then, is the immutable cycle of the Jewish exile. But where does it end? Shall his weary feet never find rest? Is he doomed to a life of perpetual wandering? Or is there a place where he will be able to grow and prosper, a place where his children’s future will be guaranteed; a place by which he has a rightful claim? The Almighty gives the answer, and it is an answer that we would do well to take seriously: “Return to the land of your fathers, your homeland, and (there) I will be with you!” (ibid 31:3)

This familiar pattern repeats itself over and over again. In each new place the hapless Jew “finally” discovered comfort and security. “It can’t happen here” he reassures himself, and blithely goes about his way, all the while stubbornly ignoring the lessons of history, not to mention a Torah commandment…

There is only one way to escape the vicious cycle, and that is the way in which the Torah implores us: “Return to the land of your fathers, your homeland, and (there) I will be with you!”

Why Be Jewish?

    It was the Torah that made the Jewish family a warm and close unit where respect and love dwelt in necessary harmony. It was the Torah that turned out youngsters whose passion in life was not drugs and kicks and violent sadism, but the famous kometz, aleph-aw. And it was from the little Torah cheder that scholarly giants of the earth came forth to teach sweet morality and true goodness.

    If you want an answer, do not seek an easy one. If you want to be a Jew-be the one that always existed. Seize the mainstream of Judaism, no matter how difficult it may be. Let me suggest to you a few points of departure:

l. That life is short and meaningless if its purpose becomes the mere pursuit of pleasure. That unless we are to go mad, there must be something more to this brief candle.

2. The knowledge that the Jew is different and exclusive; that he has a role to play which will determine his and the world’s destiny; that the Torah turns him, his people, and in the end all humanity into a holy and meaningful entity.

3. That Torah cannot endure with simple practice, but is based upon deep and never-ending study, and that without scholarship, Judaism degenerates into the joke of the Long Island temple.

4. That only if we believe that the Torah is Divine will we submit to its will, for if it is just a product of “clever” rabbis, surely you will be convinced that you are as clever as they.

5. That the Jewish people is bound together by common destiny, and that this imposes upon each one an obligation to love and rush to the aid of each and every other Jew; that the Jew has no permanent allies except his own people; that for the Jew, Jewish problems come first; that we measure our responses by the yardstick: Is it good and right for the Jew?

    These are the principles; now go and study them. Study; learn. Learn Torah, for only Torah and Torah knowledge can make you the kind of Jew that you must be. “The ignorant Jew cannot be pious” – this is the deepest of all truths. So find yourself a rabbi, a teacher. But make sure that he believes in what he is teaching. Make sure he is an honest man who does what lie preaches and who can give you the truth that he has in his heart. Torah: go drink deeply from its waters.

    You are young and you have the choice that the Almighty gives to all, young and old: life or death, good or evil, truth or illusion. If you choose the transitory pleasures of your present chapter of life, you will awaken some day with the taste of ashes in your mouth. If you really believe that the things for which our people struggled and fought and died and then continued to live for so long, are so cheap that they can be thrown away for a job or a girl – surely you will awaken one day with a broken heart and a broken soul. And you will follow the path of all the foolish and disillusioned Jews who saw in Emanicipation and Enlightenment an opportunity for “freedom” and “growth.” Their paths led to the dead ends of Auschwitz or the bankruptcy of lives that give neither satisfaction nor permanence.

    Consider what you had and threw awayl You were people that was trampled upon, spat upon, burned and drowned, hanged and shot, gassed and buried alive. And they existed in spite of all these. You were part of a people that did not fall prey to the moral disasters of crime, immorality, and. cultural anarchy, but created geniuses and men of morality and ethics. While others beat their wives, Jews respected them. While others rolled in the gutter drunk with whiskey, the Jew raised his Kiddush cup to G-d. While others dabbled at Inquisitions and conquests, the Jew bent over his Tadmud and created warmth, kindness, and scholarship. While others worshiped idols, the Jew embraced the One G-d.

    In a sense, you live no right to run because you owe an obligation to the unborn child who will someday come from you, to remain with his people – the people of his grandparents and great-grandparents and ancestors from Poland and Russia and Yemen and France and Spain and Babylonia.

    We lose so many of our best sons and daughters. Some die as those in Munich, in a blare of publicity, but many more are buried quietly and we never even know they are gone until we suddenly find them missing. These are the ones who fall before the enemy called Assimilation. These are the ones who never knew or, worse, forgot that Jewish is, oh, so beautiful. The ones who sell their precious birthright for a few cheap coins and leasures. They think they are finding freedom and happiness; only later, too late, do they realize that they died in the bloom of youth.

    Young Jew whom I have never met, come home. Return to your people and their destiny. It is beautiful. You are young and for you, Return is simple. And know that your life can only be lived in one place. Home. The Land of Israel. It is a large land. Extending from the Mediterannean to the Jordan, from Hermon through Sinai to Sharm-al-Sheaykh. It stands, capable of absorbing millions, many millions of its sons and daughters who have not yet come. It is the land where one cannot move without colliding with the Jewish past. This is the land where Abraham walked and Isaac and Jacob traveled; where David and Saul fought the enemy and Deborah and Samson smote the foe; where the Prophets raised their eyes unto the heavens and spoke to the people; where the Maccabees preserved Judaism with the sword and where the Sanhedrin and Ben Zakkai continued it with the book; where Bar Kochba died and where his children will return. Here is Eretz Yisrael; here is your home.

    What a glorious challenge you have been givenl The gauntlet has been thrown down before you, and you must climb the heights of greatness! Aliyah, going up to the land, this is the task at hand. Leave behind the dust of Exile the terrible fate that awaits us, our enemies of the Diaspora who thirst for our blood and plan yet another Auschwitz. Make your plans to leave the graveyards of Galut and live in our own land – free, a majority, alive. Guarantee the preservation of your children and cliildren’s cliildren. Watch them grow tall and tanned, strong and proud, secure and sovereign.

    You need this land and it needs you, many of you. Millions of new Jews pouring into Israel will fill up its empty spaces, guarantee the retention of all the liberated lands of Judea, Samaria, Golan, Gaza, and Sinai; assure a vast Jewish majority despite the addition of a million new non-Jews; add Western democratic and technical skills to the land. Eretz Yisrael will never again be lost to us.

    What a moment in history! How wonderful it would be if we were to understand it, clutch at it, become part of it.

%d bloggers like this: