Microsoft Word – Being a Jew in the Land of Israel.docx
Elul is the month preceding Rosh HaShanna. Every morning at the end of our prayers at Machpela I sound the Shofar in anticipation of the Days of Awe which lie ahead. Monday and Tuesday I will be sounding the Shofar to enable the worshipers to fulfill the commandment to hear the sound of the Shofar on Rosh HaShanna. I think that this will be my 26th year performing this service.
To be able to live in the Land of Israel is a very special privilege as well as an inexplicable miracle. That I was able to bring my family home while we were still young is a wonder which still amazes me. But, on top of that, to have been able to raise my family in the City of Abraham and watch them grow into proud Jews is simply an overwhelming blessing.
Last week my grandchildren came to my garden to pick the apples from our apple tree. There were well over a hundred apples, far more than we ever picked before. My son-in-law, who grew up on a moshav, tended to this tree and I credit him with reviving it so well. He is a scribe and a Torah scholar.
In Israel, when you grow fruits and vegetables, you are required to tithe them before you can use them. My son-in-law, Yaron, helped me to do this. He then told me that I have an opportunity to do a very unique mitzvah by giving the tithe to someone from the tribe of Levy. This morning I did just that as I brought the tithe to Rabbi Moshe Levinger’s home in Hebron.
Last week we read the Torah portion of Ki Tavo (when you come into the Land). This was the Shabbat when I celebrated my Bar Mitzvah fifty-two years ago. It so happens that the mitzvah to tithe fruits appears in this portion!
I never thought that I could cry over apples, but I did. It brought home to me the abundance of blessings which have been bestowed upon me. Unlike in the United States where being Jewish is just a small part of your life, in the Jewish State it is your entire life. Harvesting apples isn’t just a fun thing, it is elevated to holiness with the mitzvah attached to it.
Sounding the Shofar each morning is a daily alarm to prepare us not only for the Days of Awe which are rapidly approaching, but to an entire month of holidays brimming with mitzvot. It is almost time to build our Succot, another activity which connects us with our past and keeps our Judaism very much alive. To be doing all of these things in the ancient city of Hebron makes them that more significant. Our connection with our past is far more real here than anywhere else in the world.
The time will come, and sooner than we think, that the Exile will vomit us out. It is our destiny to live in the Land of Israel. Eventually we will all come home. Waiting is not a wise option. You may think that we are in danger of attack from Iran. You may think it is safer to live in the USA. That may even be a logical assumption. . . but it is wrong.
Even recent history has proven, time and again, that G-d watches over this country day and night. We are the only country in the world that can never be destroyed. Look around you and open your eyes to the growing dangers around you. They are very real. By trying to ignore them and pretending that all is well, you are endangering yourselves and your families.
Being Jewish is not an accident. It is a heavy responsibility we have, to become a light unto the nations, simply by trying to be good Jews. And it is impossible to be complete as a Jew while living in Exile.