Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Israeli Flag Waves While American Jewry Withers

It is a annual routine. A few days after the end of Passover, just around of the start of the Hebrew month of Iyar you will see them. Flying from apartment balconies and car windows, the flag with the two blue stripes and the "Star of David" in the middle is an ubiquitous sight. That flag, that symbol of the miraculous return of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, is flown for practically the entire month. The fourth of Iyar is Israel's Memorial Day for its soldiers that have fallen in battle. Immediately following Israeli Memorial Day is the fifth of Iyar, Israeli Independence Day. Towards the end of the month comes the 28th of Iyar, the day that the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were liberated from Jordanian occupation.

In the Passover Haggadah it is written that "everyone who discusses the exodus from Egypt at length is praiseworthy." I think that one who discusses at length the miraculous accomplishments of the State of Israel, which are numerous, this is also praiseworthy. For one will come to see the hand of Divine Providence that has accompanied the Jewish People from its outset.

I have been here for more than thirty years. In this time period I have witnessed so much progress here. This little country is advancing, not only in the physical realm but in the spiritual realm as well.

“And the gold of that land is good...” (Gen. 2:12) “This teaches that there is no Torah like the Torah of the Land of Israel.”

As I write these words the people of Israel mourn the soldiers that gave their life protecting the country and its people. Tomorrow night at this time the country will a sharp turn to rejoice and gives thanks to the Lord of Israel for giving us the opportunity to live here as free men and fulfill our potential. As Rashi explains, "...there I will make you into a great nation..."

I myself really want to celebrate Israeli Independence Day, but I cannot help but remember what I left behind. All of those poor American Jews, who may be well off financially, may have multiple degrees in higher learning, but never had the privilege of learning Torah or learning what Judaism, real authentic Judaism, is really about. If I have been blessed in seeing the State of Israel blossom, I have also been so unfortunate to watch American Jewry shrivel up and fade away.

Perhaps I should be indifferent to the demise of the American Jewish Community. Our sages tell us that only one fifth of the Israelites actually left Egypt, while the others died during the plague of darkness. Why did they die? Because they did not want to leave Egypt! I have a feeling that the Israelites that did take part in the Exodus did not mourn their brethren who were "stuck in the darkness". So why should I care about the Jews that are "stuck in America"?

Of course this is nonsense. We are one nation, one big family, responsible for one another. The holy Ari, Rabbi Isaac Luria taught,

Every morning, before your prayers, commit yourself to love every other Jew as your own self. Then your prayers will be accepted and bear fruit.
I am not a kabbalist or even a Hasid, but this is part of my daily routine. I cannot possibly be completely happy while so many of my brothers and sisters are drowning in the sea of assimilation.

This Israeli Independence Day is an opportunity for every Jew to realize that he is part of a nation that in many ways was dormant but has now come back to life. It is time to free ourselves from the chains of the Diaspora, physically and spiritually. A voice is crying from Mount Horeb, and Rachel is crying for her children. Our mother, the land of Israel, is beckoning. "Whoso is wise, let him observe these things, and let them consider the mercies of the LORD."

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