29 October 2009

"Aliyah Letter"

From Rabbi Nachman Kahana:

BS"D 4 Be’Mar Cheshvan 5770


Dear Friends

Today I received the following missive from a well-meaning acquaintance that expresses the feelings of other people who have written to me. He writes:

"As much as I enjoy your drashot, I am wondering if you are sending out e-mails on other themes for the parsha that do not emphasize aliya that is aimed at those comfortably ensconced in orthodox or haredi communities in the galut".

The writer feels that I put too much emphasis on the single mitzva of living in Eretz Yisrael and aim specifically at the orthodox and chareidi communities.

To this I would add a complaint, which is often hurled at me, that it is not my responsibility to "save the world!"

I request equal time.


The most important mitzva in the Torah is the saving of a Jewish life. Chazal taught that one who saves even one Jewish life is considered to have saved a world.

From the time my wife and I came on aliya nearly 50 years ago, we have merited to inspire and influence many other families to come. A modest accounting of my own family, including my brother hy"d, who came a while after us, we arrive at way over 100 children, grandchildren, great grandchildren - and the list grows weekly. In one generation, the list will include over 1000. If I add the other families we have influenced, the numbers already reach into the thousands. Had we and the others not come, we would have been doomed to the fate of those still clinging to the galut - including children and grandchildren who would have left the Torah and even married out.

I am an adherent of the religious Zionist philosophy. I came to Eretz Yisrael with the intent of being an integral part of Israeli society. I teach, daven and learn in Ivrit. I proudly served in a fighting unit in Tzahal. My sons all learned in Hesder Yeshivot and still serve in the army, as do my older grandchildren. I salute the flag and cry when recalling the thousands of Jews who gave their lives for what this flag stands for. I stand at attention reciting Tehilim when the sirens sound on memorial day for the fallen holy soldiers of Israel. I believe that the Medina is the harbinger of the Mashiach and the tool with which HaShem will reveal Himself very shortly.

But all this is my personal hashkafa (world view), which I don’t desire to impose on anyone. The reason for all my efforts is not religious Zionism - it is the saving of Jewish lives whether they be dati, chareidi or very far from the Torah.

The galut is steadily and quickly sinking in the quicksand of time. When I first began to write, many Jews had the financial capability of coming on aliya. They could have sold their homes at enormous profits and easily settled into a comfortable apartment or villa anywhere they chose. I pleaded for people to come before it was too late. They did not, and now it is very very late.

Those who have a healthy desire to live will cut their ties now without considering the financial losses. Your sons are not yet drafted into the US army; and the gates of Israel are still open, and it is still possible to withdraw money from the US. All this will change and the curtain of American Jewry will come down as it has so often in the past on other Jewish communities.

So, my good friends, aliyah is not just one more mitzva. It is the Noach’s ark of the Jewish people, the destiny of our nation and its individuals, and the stairway to heaven where we connect to our great past and even greater future.


Nachman Kahana