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Don’t Cancel Your Trip to Israel: By Shmuel Sackett

Everyone is talking about the amazing miracles that Hashem has – and continues – to perform for the Jews in Israel during this recent war. Thousands of missiles and rockets have landed in populated Israeli cities including Tel Aviv, Rishon Le’Tzion, Ashdod, Holon, Bet Shemesh and much more yet the injuries have been few and far between. While we definitely need to thank and praise Hashem for His protective shield, it has not been perfect. As I type these words one teenage boy from Ashkelon, Yarin Levi (16) is in serious condition and is currently in a coma, with injuries sustained from a missile attack. I have told people many times that this is the reason why we are not allowed to rely on miracles. Hashem protects us and guards us from harm but we must not rely on that alone. We must also do our efforts to protect ourselves as well. This is why when the siren is sounded, I take my family and go directly into the bomb shelter. A Jew must not rely ONLY on Hashem. He must take all precautions necessary to protect himself and his family and listen to the instructions of the security personnel. This has become our way of life for the past few weeks.

Based on what I just wrote, you will be completely surprised to read the following sentence: If you made plans to come to Israel this summer – do not cancel them! Come to Israel and enjoy this beautiful country, especially now! Wait a second, what happened to the line about not relying on miracles and taking precautions to protect the family? Sounds like a major contradiction, right? Wrong – and please read why:

Danger exists all around. When I lived in Queens I took the subway every day to and from Manhattan. I don’t need to tell you how dangerous the subway was back in the 80’s. Yet, I went to school in Manhattan (Touro College) and worked in midtown and then Wall Street until my Aliyah in 1990. How about today? Do you know the #1 most dangerous place in all of America these days? SCHOOLS!! Since Jan 1, 2000 there have been 143 school shootings in the USA resulting in the tragic death of 193 innocent people. Yet, we go to school, send our kids to school and get all excited when our little ones reach the milestone of first grade. Need I go into the dangers of shopping malls and movie theaters? Spend a few minutes surfing the internet and you will be stunned as to how many young people are gunned down in cold blood doing every day chores or activities. It is mind boggling!

What about 9/11? Did you stop working in Manhattan after that day? Did you stop air travel? I could go on and on but I think you get my point. Danger is all around us but we continue living. We don’t hide under our beds or lock ourselves in our homes. We live our lives, being as happy as possible while simultaneously taking precautions and being “alert, aware and awake” (my wife always says that to the kids!). The day we stop sending our kids to schools because of the lunatics who shoot, stop flying to visit friends in Chicago because we’re afraid that the guy next to us has a bomb… the day that happens we lost. We lost everything. We lost our freedom and we lost life itself.

You may tell me that the reason you don’t stop the things I listed above is because that is who you are. Your job is in Manhattan so, despite the craziness on the subway, you have no choice but to go to work. Your kids study in universities so, despite the fact that there seems to be a shooting every week on some campus, you have no choice but to continue with their education. However, going to Israel is not “a must”. It is a vacation and something that can be postponed. With a few clicks on the computer you can easily change your reservations from August 2014 to April 2015, so what’s the big deal?

Here is where I have a lot to say but allow me to limit it to a few paragraphs. Travelling to Israel is not a vacation, it is your Jewish obligation! Actually, you really should be living here because that was the plan for every Jew. Life outside the land is a punishment and this is the main thing we will cry about on Tisha B’av in just over two weeks. While the destruction of the Bet Ha’Mikdash was horrific, it was merely a building of bricks and mortar that can easily be rebuilt.  The real tragedy of “The Three Weeks” is the fact that millions of Jews were expelled from the land and now – thousands of years later – voluntarily remain outside the land! That is the biggest tragedy of all!

I hate to break it to you but the galus is over… if we only choose to end it. America served us well for many years and we owe that country a tremendous “Hakaros Ha’Tov” but the party is over. For 2,000 years we were not a nation, we were simply Jewish communities scattered all over the world. When the Bet Ha’Mikdash went up in flames, so did our national identity. We were exiled and over the next 2,000 years we ended up in Poland, Morocco, Russia, Ethiopia, Turkey, France, Egypt, Spain, Germany and much more. Each place had its own community, its own customs and its own Rav. Those were very difficult times for Jews and Baruch Hashem we had those communities! They kept the flame of Torah alive! They held us together during extreme times of pogroms, inquisitions and holocausts. But then it ended. It ended in 1948 when, after 2,000 long and blood-drenched years, Hashem returned us to our land – the one and only! No longer were we scattered across the globe. Jews could now return home and with their return would come the revival of the Jewish Nation! Incredible indeed!

Yet, “al ay-leh ani bo’chiya” (over this do I weep…) a direct quote from Eicha chapter 1, passuk 16. I weep over the fact that for the first time in Jewish history, millions of Jews voluntarily live outside the land. The gates of emigration are open and it is not a 10 month journey by sea and camel yet millions of Princes and Princesses choose to remain outside the palace. What would their grandparents have done had they had that same opportunity? The Jewish nation is calling but Jews prefer to live in communities. The only thing that happened in 1948 was that the communities in Poland, Hungary and Yemen ended and the ones in Kew Gardens Hills, Teaneck and Skokie began.

This is why I wrote that if you already made plans to come to Israel, even for just a few weeks in the summer, don’t cancel them! This is what you have to do and just like other things that must be done such as work and school, you will not cancel! You will live your life – your Jewish National life – and you will not let the thugs of Hamas stop you! Yes, take precautions such as going to places that have the proper protection and shelter and listen to the instructions given by security personnel, but NO, do not stop living your life as a Jew must.

Come to Israel and enjoy your summer!

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