18 November 2012

Hiding in the Diaspora

5 Kislev 5773

Those who call for Jews to hurry home to Eretz Yisrael in order to "escape" trouble are making a big mistake. Eretz Yisrael is not a place to hunker down and hide out til trouble passes over. It's the vehicle for fulfilling our national destiny. And that's never been more obvious than when buses were blowing up and missiles were raining down. But, since 1948, the Diaspora has become a place where Jews hide out from their national responsibilities. Allow me to explain further.

It all goes back to Yetziat Mitzrayim.

Hashem took us down to Egypt where we grew into a great nation and then He brought us up out of Egypt to return us to our land - Eretz Yisrael - which we were going to have to conquer.

"It came to pass when Pharaoh let the people go, that God did not lead them [by] way of the land of the Philistines for it was near, because God said, Lest the people reconsider when they see war and return to Egypt." (Shemot 13.17)

When the meraglim - the twelve spies sent out by Moshe Rabeinu - reported back to the people, Hashem's fears were realized. Ten of the twelve convinced the people that the enemy was too great for us - that we would all die trying to conquer the land.  The two who had faith that Hashem would not let us down, but would fight alongside us, lost the battle for the hearts and minds of a large part of the People of Israel.

Then - as now - the punishment for rebelling against ratzon Hashem was exile from the land.  We lost our chance and had to wait forty years, wandering in the desert, for an entire generation to die off, before we got another chance.

The Torah tells us, and the prophets and the writings back it up, that exile from our land is a punishment and that one day, that decree would be lifted and Hashem would return us to our land.  How many times a day throughout all the centuries have we prayed for that day to come?  And yet, still there is this dichotomy of the meraglim where part of the Jewish people says, "We get to live in Eretz Yisrael," while the other part says, "We don't have to live in Eretz Israel."

It's a fact that Eretz Yisrael is the safest place for a Jew to be - and especially so as judgment begins to fall on the nations of the world - but, that should not be interpreted to mean that no trouble or trial or injury will befall a Jew in Eretz Yisrael.  No one would be foolish enough to believe such a claim.  It goes against all evidence to the contrary.  What it means is that when the trouble or trial or, G-d forbid, injury happens to a Jew in Eretz Yisrael, it catches him while he is busy about the business Hashem created him for, not hiding out from his God-given responsibilities.

It's predictable that as the situation deteriorates for Jews in the Diaspora, it will also deteriorate in Eretz Yisrael.  This is necessary to preserve free will.  History shows that the borders of Eretz Yisrael were wide open for a period of time before Hitler's rise to power in Germany, but the Arabs were perpetrating pogroms against the Jews and the British collaborated with them.  (Witness Hebron 1929.) So, even though they didn't like the climate that was developing in Europe, many European Jews held back from any serious consideration of emigratiion.  By the time it became clear how bad it was going to get there, the British White Paper had been issued, severely limiting Jewish immigration to Eretz Yisrael, and the rest of the world closed its doors (and eyes and ears) to Jews.

This is the only possible end for those who make calculations about where it is "safer" to be.  This should never be a consideration when we are deciding about making the ultimate move to Eretz Yisrael.  It's "safest" to be where you belong.  We can't run from troubles or even from death.  They are a necessary part of this reality which is preparing us for the world to come.  But, as Jews, we also can't continue to run away from our obligations to God and to our fellow Jews:

(Bamidbar 32.6-9) "...Moses said to the descendants of Gad and the descendants of Reuben, "Shall your brethren go to war while you stay here? Why do you discourage the children of Israel from crossing over to the land which the Lord has given them? This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to explore the Land. They went up to the Valley of Eshkol and saw the land, and they discouraged the children of Israel from crossing into the land which the Lord has given them."

Hashem is asking every Diaspora Jew this question today - "Shall your brethren go to war while you stay here?" Shall you live in comfort and security and indulge yourselves among the impure nations while your brothers are fighting and dying to conquer the land which you have rejected, but for which you share an equal responsibility? Neither your physical well-being, nor even that of your children (witness the generation of the desert who feared for their children's lives!) must have any bearing on this holy and irrevocable calling.

Now, look how we've come full circle again back to the meraglim:

"...Why do you discourage the children of Israel from crossing over to the land which the Lord has given them? This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to explore the Land. They went up to the Valley of Eshkol and saw the land, and they discouraged the children of Israel from crossing into the land which the Lord has given them."

Did you, as a Diapora Jew arguing for your right to remain in chu"l even to the point of accusing the Israeli Jew of sinning by being there, ever imagine yourself compared to one of the meraglim who discouraged the people?

This is very serious business, folks! Hashem deemed them worthy of death.

Hashem commanded us regarding Eretz Yisrael - enter and conquer.  The Israeli Jew is suffering because he has not completed the second part of this commandment, but the Diaspora Jew has not even begun!  Brothers and sisters, this is a reality-changiing error and never more so than NOW!  

And a special warning to those who speak lashon hara against Eretz Yisrael, discouraging Diaspora Jews from emigrating and discouraging Israeli Jews and causing them to doubt the righteousness of their mission - if you merit gehinnom, believe me, there will be a very special place for you there.

As I write this, I bear in mind that the Truth hurts and it's never popular with the masses.