Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A Thought From the Heart for Sefiras HaOmer

For a long time I have toyed with expressing some of my inner turmoil here, on this blog and here in Israel. Perhaps I will begin a new blog. Perhaps I will just add it here. Here is a little preview.

As I have said elsewhere on this blog, the Baal Shem Tov teaches that everything happens for a reason and the Alter Rebbe teaches we should live with the times. What does this mean? Right now for Jews the time period is between Pesach and Shavuos, a time to prepare to receive the Torah. In a powerful teaching I read last night by the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, he talks about the real Simchah of Simchas Torah. He turns everything around to ask whether the Torah is happy with us. Is the Torah happy with Am Yisrael? Are we fulfilling the Torah.

Well, here comes my problem. Avraham Avinu, the first Jew entered into a covenant with Hashem. Part of the agreement was that the Land of Canaan would be given to the descendants of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov. When Avraham Avinu asked for a sign, he was told that his descendants would be strangers in a foreign land but would come into the Land of Canaan and there would ultimately be a Geula Shelaima (complete redemption).

Not very pleasant, but Hashem promised Avraham Avinu that the exile would not last forever.

Time passes, Avraham Avinu leaves this world as we know it and is buried in Maharas HaMachpela the burial place he purchased in a legal sale. Yitzhak Avinu leaves this world and his descendants, through Yaakov, all go down to Mitzrayim.

Now there might be some mystical reasons why that happened, but let's stick to facts. The family of Yaakov Avinu moves to Egypt and gradually becomes a nation. The Jewish people are enslaved, just as Hashem stated, but then a series of miracles happen. Moshe Rabeinu becomes our leader and leads us out of Mitzrayim together with Hashem, who saves us with an outstretched hand.

Sounds good. So now we get to return to the Land of Canaan, end the exile and yay, we can fulfill the agreement with Avraham and Hashem. Well, that is what could have been.

What happens instead? Hashem tells Moshe to prepare Am Yisrael to come into the Land of Canaan and Am Yisrael complains. No, we first want to send spies. Then we want to complain further, be punished more and delay coming into the special land.

Moshe Rabeinu davens hard to come into the Land but is denied and Yehoshuah takes over the leadership. OK, so now we can enter the land and live here as we should?

Well, not quite. Hashem tells Yehoshua to clear out all those in the Land of Canaan, all of those who are not part of the agreement, and Hashem will give the Land to Am Yisrael. But Yehoshua is old and the task is passed onto the judges. The judges do their job of continuing to lead the Jewish people, but unfortunately the Jewish people take pity on some of those in the land and against the instruction of Hashem, they do not wage the wars they need to, ridding the land from the idolatory and foreigners - permitting them to stay.

So begins a pattern. Do we as Am Yisrael really want the land promised to us in the agreement between Hashem and Avraham Avinu. Yes, finally many many years passed. Many exiles and much suffering for all Jews. Finally we begin to really return. The truth is ,some Jews remained here all the years, but now we wanted to settle the land. A new idea arose called Olim Chadashim. New immigrants who are Jewish and return to help to build the land to be fitting for all of Am Yisrael to live here with our Righteous Redeemer and of course a Dwelling Place for G-d in this the Lower Worlds.

For a while the settling of the land seems to go well. There are many factors that affect it occurring correctly which can be read about in the biographies of the Ramban, Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, the Steipler, the Gerer Rebbe, The Baba Sali and more.

Now let's fast forward a bit. Now the law of return is in place and it should be that Jews from any where in the diaspora can return to live in Eretz Yisrael. Are they welcomed here? It should be - but what is the truth?

The truth is sad and painful and it is this that I am toying with writing as a journal to inspire Jews to open their eyes and their hearts.

Israel, as the Land of Canaan has become known, is the name given to Yaakov Avinu after his successfully overcoming the angel of Eisav in an all night fight. Now, who was Yaakov? His essence was truth. Yet, are we living up to that, ie TRUTH? Do we really honour this land as being a place of truth? Do we really help each Jew to live here correctly as a Jew free to learn Torah? Are we being honest with ourselves?

Well, if we were truly honest, how could it be that a social worker in an organization to help Olim Chadashim would look at a CV and say, what did you come here for, you should have gone to Canada or UK? Yes, that is what I was told when asking for some help to settle here. Why did I come? I am a Jew and as the Gerer Rebbe teaches once a Jew has to leave anywhere in the diaspora, the place to come to is Israel. This is where every Jew belongs.

The truth is that the full land Hashem promised to Avraham Avinu is larger than the land we currently regard as Israel. Do we value it though? I am not so sure. If we did, no Jew would ever ever dream of giving away even a centimeter. No Jew would tell another Jew, "you don't belong here."

Are we being honest? Do we even know the essence of Yaakov, the first to have the name Israel?

How many years do we need to keep Sefiras HaOmer before the reason for it sinks in and we begin to treat our fellow with absolute respect and unconditional love.

How many of us really know what that means? Take a look at my husband's recent post on his blog. Let the message there sink in as to how to care for another and let us re-think what it is to be a Jew. What it is to be the descendant of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov.

If you are Jewish, please make a contribution towards assisting Jewish Olim Chadashim to be successful in Eretz Yisrael the land where they belong.

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