Last week, I wrote an article about the need for Jews to move to Israel. While I focused primarily on the positive aspect of aliyah – fulfilling the national dream of 2,000 years by building a strong and proud Jewish state – I did state that, at times, Hashem sends a “Pharaoh” to drive the Jews out against their will. I urged all readers to act now, and make aliyah in a beautiful and happy way, and not wait for the modern-day Pharaoh. As a result of my article, I received many emails, but one of them stood out above all the others. When I read it, I couldn’t believe the words that were written. The email was short, yet powerful and poignant, and it delivered a message that left me speechless. Here is the email – word for word:
“Hello, Shmuel. Not being Jewish, but an avid supporter of the Jewish people, I have observed that the Jewish people will not heed the warning of leaving the countries they are so comfortable in – until it is too late. They have been brainwashed for so long by a liberal, socialistic dogma and are willing participants in this evil society! They need to have Hashem as their mantra, not the godless society they so love to be a part of!” The writer then concluded with six simple words; “Thank you for sounding the alarm.”
Before going on, I humbly ask that you read that paragraph again. Remember that it was written by a non-Jew, and please focus on every word. I’m sure it will send chills down your spine, as it did to mine.
The writer, a non-Jewish woman, states that she has observed the Jews and that we will not leave the countries we are comfortable in, until it is too late. Answer me honestly: Is she right or wrong? Throughout the 2,000-year exile, when did we ever leave before it was too late? How much Jewish blood was shed during that time across the globe? If you answer that there was no place to go, I would humbly disagree. During the time of the Arizal (16th century), for example, the greatest rabbis lived in Israel and urged the Jews to come home. This included HaRav Yosef Karo (author of the Shulchan Aruch) and HaRav Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz (who wrote the famous “L’cha Dodi” prayer. Have you actually read the words to that powerful prayer? Here are just a few lines from the ArtScroll translation: “Shake off the dust – arise… Draw near to my soul – redeem it… Wake up, Wake up – for your light has come… Feel not ashamed, be not humiliated… My people’s afflicted find shelter as the City is built upon its hilltop…” Do you know what these words were referring to? The major Torah leaders of the world, including the greatest Kabbalists in history, were literally begging the Jews to “leave the countries they were so comfortable in” (words from the email) and come home to Israel. But did they listen?
Fast forward to 1929, when Rav Avraham HaKohen Kook issued his Holocaust warning. It has been translated into English and published by Solomon Press. In that proclamation, HaRav Kook warned the Jewish world that a Holocaust was coming, and he urged them to leave Europe immediately and come to Israel. Once again, did the Jews “leave the countries they were so comfortable in” and come home? Some did, and survived, but those who didn’t – well, you know the end of the story.
But the email from this non-Jewish woman goes even deeper than that. She writes that we have been brainwashed by the liberal society we live in and that we are willing participants in that evil game. I ask once again: Is she right or wrong? The overwhelming majority of Jews in America still vote Democrat and support abortion and same-gender marriages. Yes, it’s true that the frum community does not maintain these views, but the overwhelming majority of our brothers and sisters do – and that’s an undeniable fact! That is exactly what this woman was writing in her email: that so many Jews do not have Hashem (that’s the word she used!) as their guiding light. Instead, they are led by “the godless society they so love to be a part of.”
What can I say? The words in that email leaped off my computer screen and ripped a hole in my heart, because I knew they were accurate – and it hurt. It hurt because instead of leading the world, we are following it. It hurt because instead of being a light unto the nations, we are causing darkness. It’s true that we are the Chosen People, but the world has seen what we have chosen – and they’re not impressed.
These things must change and they must change quickly. Please remember that as important as halachah is – and we must not compromise on anything – it is only one part of being Jewish. There is a whole other side to being a Yid, and it starts with being connected to the nation and not just your local community – which can only be done inside Eretz Yisrael. As we read the Torah portions dealing with the slavery in Egypt, please notice that two things happened. The first was ending the slavery and setting the Jews free, but the second was taking 3,000,000 men, women, and children out of Egypt, across a treacherous desert and into the Land of Israel. Wouldn’t it have been much easier to simply keep us there as free, non-slaves? We could have built wonderful yeshivos, chevrah kaddishas, and shuls. We could have put a nice eiruv around Goshen, opened glatt kosher restaurants, and even a local Hatzalah chapter – what could have been better? However, freeing the Jewish slaves was just one part of the plan. Part II was turning those ex-slaves into a nation, and for that, Hashem demanded that we leave Egypt and make the long and difficult journey to Eretz Yisrael. In that place – and only in that place – would the dream of am Yisrael become a reality!
What was true then is true now. We need “to leave the countries we are so comfortable in” before it’s too late. We need to have Hashem as our guiding light and come to Israel from the four corners of the globe to become the nation we were destined to be. Let’s not do these things when “it is too late.” Let’s control our own fate and not leave it to others. Let’s go home now.
Am Yisrael Chai!
Shmuel Sackett is a 100% product of Queens. He was born in Middle Village and moved to KGH shortly before his bar-mitzvah. He graduated from YCQ (1975) and YHSQ (1979). He was Havurat Yisrael’s first Youth Director (4 years) and started the first 2 NCSY chapters in Queens. Shmuel made aliyah in 1990 and co-founded Manhigut Yehudit, together with Moshe Feiglin. His website is www.JewishIsrael.org Sackett is married with 6 children and 4 grandchildren. He lives in Herziliya Pituach.