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GOOD MORNING! Would you be surprised to know that over one million Israelis have left Israel during the last 50 years to live elsewhere?
Why would they leave? There are many reasons, but one often hears "I don't need the wars, the fears of terrorism, or the problems with the economy. Why stay?"
So why would someone want to stay in Israel despite all the problems? The answer has to be a connection to the land and to the people. And what connects the Jewish people to the Land of Israel? It is our belief in God and the Torah.
The Almighty established a covenant with the Jewish people:
"And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations, an eternal covenant; to be your God and the God of your descendants after you." (Genesis 17:7)
And the Almighty gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people:
"I am the Almighty Who brought you (Abraham) our of Ur Kasdim to give you this land to inherit." (Genesis 15:7)
And how do we know that it is the Jews who are to inherit the Land of Israel? The Almighty tells Abraham:
"Through Isaac will offspring be considered yours." (Genesis 21:12)
For over 3,000 years, the Land of Israel has been part of the Jew's psyche, daily thoughts and aspirations. Whenever a Jew builds a synagogue it is built oriented toward Jerusalem. The direction of our prayer, three times a day, is toward Jerusalem, the "Gates of Heaven." At each Jewish wedding, the groom breaks a glass to commemorate the destruction of the Temple. And we close each Passover Seder with the resonating words: "Next year in Jerusalem."
Israel is where full potential of the Jewish people can be achieved. Half of the Talmud, and half of the 613 mitzvot, are applicable only in Israel. One of the mitzvot is specifically to live in the Land of Israel and to settle it (Numbers 33:53). The mere walking of 4 amot (approx. 2 meters) in Israel is considered a mitzvah. Even the fruits are holy and subject to special laws.
It is our connection to our Torah heritage that is the source of our strength. One can't love what he doesn't know. If the Jewish people learn Torah and know our heritage, they will know what there is to love and in what to take pleasure! It is this knowledge that will connect our fellow Jews in Israel with the land, our people and the Almighty - to strengthen their resolve to stay in Israel and be part of the Jewish destiny.
Shortly will be the 35th World Zionist Congress, which is the parliament of the Jewish people. The representatives elected to the Congress and to the Jewish Agency will have input on where the monies (raised throughout the world through Jewish Federations and United Israel Appeal) will be directed. The monies raised are for social services, aliyah, outreach and education. They are separate from the Israeli government.
What if there was elected a mandate that was committed Israel's neshama (soul) and dedicated to the values we received from our heritage? Imagine the impact that this would have on Jewish education, giving all Jews an understanding and appreciation of where they fit into the destiny of the Jewish people. It is no longer sufficient that Israel should be seen just as a refuge for Jews from persecution.
Strengthen Israel and the Jewish people. Let your vote be heard! Vote for the World Zionist Congress: http://www.congressofthejewishpeople.com
For more on "The Land of Israel" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
Here begins the story of the Ten Plagues which God put upon the Egyptians not only to effect the release of the Jewish people from bondage, but to show the world that He is the God of all of creation and history. The first nine plagues are divisible into three groups:
- The water turning to blood, frogs, lice.
- Wild beasts, pestilence/epidemic, boils.
- Hail, locust, and darkness.
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that these were punishments measure for measure for afflicting the Jewish people with slavery. The first of each group reduced Egyptians in their own land to the insecurity of strangers; the second of each group robbed them of pride, possessions and a sense of superiority; the third in each group imposed physical suffering.
based on based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
In speaking with Moshe, the Almighty says:
"Also, I have heard the outcry of the Children of Israel."
What do we learn from the seemingly superfluous word "also"?
Rabbi Moshe Sofer, author of Chasam Sofer explained that "also" indicates that not only God, but the people also hear one another's cries. Even though the entire Jewish people were enslave and afflicted, they did not forget the plight of their fellow man.
Never say to someone, "I have my own problems. I don't want to hear about yours." If two people are in a hospital, each should take an interest in the other's condition.
When Rabbi Dov Bairish Wiedenfield, the Rabbi of Tshabin, heard that his wife died, he felt deep anguish. Immediately afterwards, however, he asked about the welfare of the other woman who was hospitalized in the same room. He expressed his hope that the death of her neighbor would not aggravate her illness.
The mother of Rabbi Simcha Zisel Ziv had a custom to collect money for the poor at funerals. At the funeral of her only daughter, she also collected charity. When asked how she was able to compose herself in the summit of her grief, she replied, "Just because I am suffering doe not mean that the poor have to suffer also."
CANDLE LIGHTING - January 28:
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:37 Hong Kong 5:51 Honolulu 6:00
J'Burg 6:43 London 4:23 Los Angeles 5:00
Melbourne 8:19 Mexico City 6:06 Miami 5:44
New York 4:49 Singapore 7:01 Toronto 5:03
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Where nothing is sacred,
sacred is nothing.
-- Dr. Mardy Grothe
In Honor of