Each visit to Israel increases my love and connection to this remarkable country, land and people. When in Israel, it is impossible not to feel that Jewish destiny is unfolding here and that those in the diaspora, while great sources of support, are essentially spectators.
To be a serious Jew one must be serious about a commitment to Israel. The Torah and our tradition are replete with statements that place Israel and Yerushalayim as central in our lives. When I return, I look forward through sermons and classes to articulating some of the many reasons that Israel is such a blessing and gift in our lives, but for now, allow me to share just one.
I was walking today in the vicinity of the tragic funeral of R. Elazar Avuchatzera who was brutally murdered just last night. The streets were congested, the traffic was heavy and the police where doing their best to keep things under control. One driver was particularly frustrated that the officer had closed off a certain street and he left his car, walked up to the policeman and was not shy in voicing his objection.
Observing this aggressive exchange, my first thought was that in America, a civilian would never speak so freely to a member of law enforcement. And then I realized that while his tone was inexcusable and wrong, there was something paradoxically beautiful about it. You see, in America, a policeman is a total stranger, unfamiliar, distant and imposing. In Israel, absolutely everyone, policeman or civilian, is a member of the family, a brother or a sister with whom there is an implicit comfort level. Essentially, this driver was saying, ‘achi,’ my brother, why are you stopping traffic here, it’s inconvenient to me.
Ten years ago, my sister and her family made aliyah to Modiin. Just this week, my brother and his family arrived on a nefesh b’nefesh flight to their new home in Alon Shvut. That leaves me as the only child in my family not living in Israel, a feeling that is awkward, upsetting and in some ways lonely. I am deeply grateful to the BRS community for the commitment you have shown me for the next ten years, and rest assured you have my family’s commitment back for that long and beyond. But wouldn’t it be great, if we could realize our mutual commitments to one another by bringing our entire BRS family on aliyah.
My friends, as I often say, while there are many legitimate reasons not to move to Israel right now, there are no legitimate reasons not to struggle with how and when we can make aliyah a reality. May our collective migration to Israel be hastened and expedited by the arrival of Moshiach, speedily in our days.