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Living a Life of Israel: By Shmuel Sackett

I want you to read the title again: Living a life of Israel. Think about it for a second. A life of Israel. A life where everything you do brings you closer to Israel. A life where you breathe the air of Israel, even while in New York or China. A life where your educational goals, occupational career and marriage decisions are based on a strip of land not much bigger than the state of Delaware. What does all this mean?

What I am about to write is life changing and is not something you have heard before. That is actually quite sad because our entire faith and essence is deeply intertwined with the soil of the Promised Land. Up until now you have been taught that keeping Torah and Mitzvot is the most important thing a Jew can do. You have been taught about the power of Tefila and the need to immerse yourself in Hashem’s infinite wisdom. You have studied Halachot, guarded against Lashon Hara and practiced chessed wherever possible. All of that is 100% true and I will never contradict any of those things – G-d forbid! I simply want to add one very important thing that has been kept from you – something that lies at the center of being Jewish; As a Jew, your priority is to do all of those things in the Land of Israel. Serving Hashem in Queens, Teaneck or Cedarhurst is a temporary situation only. If you happen to be there, for a day or 20 years, you must follow certain rules. The problem is that this situation is a “b’di’eved” – not the ideal way – and Jews were placed on earth to live life as “l’chat’chila” – proper, correct and according to original design.

I once heard a nice shiur by a Rabbi who discussed whether or not moving to Israel is one of the 613 mitzvot. He went into great detail explaining the difference between a “Mitzva Chiyuvit” (a mandatory mitzvah which we MUST do, such as putting on Tefillin, eating Matza on seder night etc.) and a “Mitzva Kiyumit” (a mitzvah which is not mandatory but which we are credited for when, and if, a certain situation arises such as giving a get in the case of divorce). His conclusion was that while most Rabbis hold that living in Israel is a great and special Mitzvah, in our day it is not an obligation. If one makes this bold and brave move he/she receives great reward each and every day but it is not like putting up a Mezuza which MUST be done, no questions asked.

I shared this with Rabbi Nachman Kahana who made Aliyah from NY over 50 years ago. He laughed and told me that the whole discussion was rather silly. He explained his position via a parable: Reuven marries Sarah. It is just after the Chupa and the young, fresh couple is alone in the yichud room. Sarah looks into Reuven’s eyes and asks, “Reuven, tell me why you married me – I need to know.” Reuven, being the bright Talmid Chacham that he is looks at her and answers, “Sarah, I married you because now I can keep many mitzvot that I have been unable to perform. With Hashem’s help we will have children – that’s Pru U’rvoo. B’ezrat Hashem one of those will be a boy – that’s Brit Milah and maybe even a bachor – that’s Pidyon Ha’ben. Thanks to you my dear Sarah, I can now keep dozens of mitzvot! Thank you for marrying me!!!”

Rabbi Kahana then asked me, “What do you think Sarah’s reaction will be if Reuven answers her question in that way?” He should have answered as follows: “My dear Sarah. Until you came into my life, my soul was incomplete. I searched for my soul mate and Hashem guided me to you. Together, we are complete. We are one. Without you, I am nothing. I am broken and insignificant. Now that you have come into my life, I am alive. I am a full being and together with you, we will serve our Father and King in complete purity and holiness. I simply could not do it without you.”

Rabbi Kahana then repeated his question, word for word: “What do you thing Sarah’s reaction will be if Reuven answers her question in that way?” He then told me, “Shmuel, THAT is how you make Aliyah. Not because of the mitzvot you can only keep in Israel. It is because without Israel, life for a Jew is incomplete. A Jew must understand that for him, Israel is his soul-mate. His neshama needs to be there for without it, he is broken and insignificant, just like a young man before he finds his bashert. There’s no difference.”

This is what I meant when I titled the article “Living a Life of Israel”. It means that even though you are presently 6,000 miles away you must understand and constantly be aware that your present position is temporary. You must set a date to move to Israel, even if it is 10 years away. You must then plan your move. I would start by learning Hebrew and thanks to the internet you can arrive in Israel speaking like a Sabra. (Note: This will also help you learn Torah better since Rashi, the Vilna Gaon, the Chofetz Chaim and Rav Moshe Feinstein all wrote in Hebrew) Plan your education and profession accordingly and don’t renovate your house – unless it will make you sell it easier, faster and for more money. Every move you make must be done with this goal in mind since that is where you need to be.

Does this mean that Jews outside of Israel are bad? Absolutely not! They are good, wonderful, holy people whom I love and that is why I am writing these words. It is because I love you all that I am taking the time to stress this point: Come home. Hashem did not just free our fathers from slavery – he also took us out of Egypt. He could have left us there and we would have set up amazing shuls, yeshivas and chessed organizations in Goshen. We could have flourished and produced many great Torah sages but Hashem clearly did not want that. He realized that in the future a few Jews may in fact wander back to places like Egypt, Lithuania, Canada and the USA but the focus, the goal, the mission and the completeness could only be in one place. In that place we are not communities – we are “Am Yisrael” – the Nation of Israel!!

I urge you all and literally beg you to stop thinking of Israel as a place to spend Sukkot or to go to for a year after high school. This tiny land is where our friend Reuven looks into Sarah’s eyes – or better yet; where each of you look into Hashem’s “eyes” and says, “Without Your Land, I am incomplete. My soul yearns for Your soil and only within its borders can I serve You as You instructed. Please – my Father and King – bring me to Your Land in happiness and plant me in its borders. In the meantime, I will serve You here outside the Land but this is like a prince serving the king outside the palace. Grant me the wisdom to understand that this is what must be done and the courage to act upon it.”

See you in Jerusalem!

4 Responses so far.

  1. GavrielaRukhama says:

    Ok, Shmuel, you did it again. You made me cry. I hope I live long enough to come home, for good.

  2. Jeffrey Cohen says:

    Great article Shmuel! I am printing it and posting it in every room of my house (OK, maybe just the kitchen). With Hashem’s help we will come home soon.

  3. marklshane1942 says:

    Hi- You didn’t convince me So far brother. , Im not making aliyah in this lifetime Shmuel. When the Iranians ,arabs and European anti-Semites yearn to collect all of us in one place(holding tank Israel) something that is fundamental to my Jewish core survival strategys says “NOT AGAIN” not all of us collected in to one holding tank(the aushvitz lines) on the other hand we read online about how poorly IDF, Government,Police and citizen protection services on the roads, towns ,cities are daily laden with attacks by islamists that just about never get reported let alone receive police protection. then there are the leftists crazys and NGO clubs so I find it hard to imagine the hateful motives that drive persons who claim to be Jews…Finally, the only other thing that holds me back is insufficient funds- that’s right…not even enough kesseve to be able to pay for a local memebership to one of our temples; the high cost of being older and Jewish doesn’t fly for the millions of retirees on fixed income ..so unless you set up the alte cocker kibbutz program real fast it just doesn’t look like this is my century,but I never take my eye off of Israel and thanks for your TRY..Mark

  4. levbaruch says:

    The Permanence of the State of Israel
    It is a Torah axiom, first brought down in the Tanach and elaborated upon by the Talmud, that the final redemption will climax with the enormous battle between the Jewish people and Gog and the nations of the world who come up with him against the land of Israel.
    But this entire concept is understood only superficially by the average yeshiva student, and certainly the place of the State of Israel and the return of the exiles in the context of Gog is, at best, vague. And in this connection is the question that is asked by numerous Jews, again including yeshiva students:
    What guarantees us that the State of Israel will survive and is it not possible that, G-d forbid, it will be destroyed?
    Since the yeshiva world, unfortunately, studies little Tanach and less Midrash, so much of Jewish concepts and attributes are closed books, with all the subsequent loss of understanding of the totality of the Jewish Idea. In any event, the question is asked and the answer follows.
    The Prophet Zechariah (13:8) states: “And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, says the L-rd, two parts in it will be cut off and die, but the third will be left in it.” And our Rabbis declare (Tanchuma, Shoftim 9): “They (Israel) shall not be settled in their land until the third redemption. The first redemption is the redemption from Egypt. The second is the redemption of Ezra (from Babylon). The third will never end.”
    And the Rabbis say, again (Psikta Zutrata, Deuteronomy 1:8): “’To give (the land) to them and their seed after them…’ Rebbe says: ‘To them’ – those are the ones who came into the land from the desert (from Egypt); ‘and their seed’ – those are the ones who came up from Babylon; ‘after them’ – those are the times of the Messiah.”
    From both of these one can see that the third coming up to the land, coming back to the land from the Exile, is the one that is of the times of the Messiah and which “will never end.”
    And concerning the verse in Hosea (6:2), “After two days He will revive us, on the third day He will raise us up and we will live in His sight,” the classic Biblical commentator, the Radak, writes:
    “This speaks of the future. And ‘after two days,’ refers to the two exiles, the Egyptian exile and the Babylonian exile. ‘On the third day,’ refers to this, the third exile, from which He will raise us up ‘and we will live in His sight,’ and we shall never again be exiled.”
    And concerning the same verse, the commentator Metzudat David writes: “In the third period, the future redemption, He will raise us up from our fall and we will live again before Him forever for we will not go into exile again.”
    One brings down the clear words of our Rabbis and gedolim of past and greater times because one is appalled at some of the statements that come out of the mouths of various students and circles in the yeshiva world. Rather than worry and fear the clear warnings of the Torah and Rabbis of the Talmud concerning the ultimate and inescapable horrors that will afflict the Jew in the exile (and of which I have written again and again in a vain attempt to get Jews to understand the tragedy that hovers over the heads of the Jews of that exile), they utter all manner of incredible arguments that both humiliate Eretz Yisrael and the All Mighty, may we be forgiven.
    The incredible rise of the State of Israel and all the miraculous events that surround it become things of little consequence for the overwhelming numbers of Orthodox denizens of the exile. Not only does Eretz Yisrael become “galus” in the perverted concepts that have caused them to twist Torah truth, but Israel becomes a possibly temporary thing that could be destroyed, G-d forbid. Do these people not realize what they do? They do nothing less than mock the All Mighty!
    The State of Israel as a temporary thing that could be destroyed? Do we mock the All Mighty and make from Him and His events a joke? Do we take the stupendous miracles that we have seen in our days and make of them meaningless things? Does the All Mighty then bring back a huge part of the Jewish people to its land from the four corners of the earth after 2,000 years and give them an independent state, and give us breathtaking wars of liberation and survival, only to then plunge us back into destruction after 60 or 70 years? Does the prophecy of Zechariah (8:4-5) mean nothing when he says: “Old men and women will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem…and the streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there”? Does all that we have seen realized in our times become a game, a meaningless thing that can disappear tomorrow because the denizens of the glatt kosher fleshpots of exile must find yet another rationalization for not coming back and fulfilling their religious obligation to live in the land?
    The State of Israel is G-d’s hand, and the fact that its leaders and governments are the worst of the scoffers and deniers and corrupters of Judaism has no relevance vis-à-vis the meaning of the state in the prophetic vision of the era of the redemption.
    From ‘Lema’ala Dvarim’/’Beyond Words’ by the Ohr Haraayon

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