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The Lords of Flatbush

By Tzvi Fishman
10/24/2009, 12:00 AM

What were Hashem’s first words to Avraham? “Get thee forth OUT OF THY COUNTRY, and FROM THY BIRTHPLACE, and FROM THY FATHER’S HOUSE to the Land that I will show thee.”

G-d didn’t tell Avraham to put on tefillin. He didn’t tell Avraham to keep Shabbos. G-d didn’t explain to him the laws of kashrut. G-d told him to go to Israel. If you want to serve Me, if you want to come closer to Me, if you want to be a holy Jew, go to Israel.

This was G-d’s very first teaching to Avraham, the father of the Jewish People. G-d wants His People to be in the Land of Israel. G-d doesn’t want the Jewish People to be gentile lands. G-d told Avraham, and all of his descendants who were to come after him, if a Jew really wants to serve Hashem, he has to be in the Land of Israel. If a Jew really wants to get closer to Hashem, he has to be in the Land of Israel. The Land of Israel is step Number One. The Jewish People can only be the “great NATION” that we are supposed to be in the Land of Israel.

That’s right. G-d’s plan for Avraham is to make a great NATION out of his descendants, not a bunch of gefilta-fish eaters scattered all over the globe, as G-d told Avraham, “and I will make of thee a great NATION.”

Remember classes in Citizenship? A nation needs a land. Its own land. You cannot be a great nation if you are unwanted steppinfetchits in someone else’s land. And a special HOLY NATION needs a special HOLY LAND.

"We ain't goin nowhere!"

Lucky for us that G-d first spoke to Avraham, and not to the lords of Flatbush. Imagine what the conversation would have been like, if G-d had first spoken to some of our talkbackers.

“And the L-rd said to the talkbacker, Get thee forth to the Land that I will show you.”    

“No way, G-d. I’m an American.”

“And the L-rd said to the talkbacker, Get thee forth to the Land that I will show you.”    

“No way, G-d, I’m a Canadian.”

“And the L-rd said to the talkbacker, Get thee forth to the Land that I will show you.”    

“No way, G-d. I can’t leave my parents.”

“And the L-rd said to the talkbacker, Get thee forth to the Land that I will show you.”    

“No way, G-d, I don’t want to have to fight in the army.”

“And the L-rd said to the talkbacker, Get thee forth to the Land that I will show you.”

“No way, G-d, I don’t like the government there.”

“And the L-rd said to the talkbacker, Get thee forth to the Land that I will show you.”    

“No way, G-d, I don’t want to give up my 60-inch screen TV.”

Lucky for us that G-d first spoke to Avraham, who immediately packed up his belongings and followed G-d’s command without whining and pounding his fists in a tantrum. Avraham believed in G-d. He believed that G-d would take care of him, as G-d promised: “and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great,” meaning that G-d would provide for his livelihood as well.

Lucky for us that G-d first spoke to Avraham, and not to the lords of Flatbush. If He had, we’d still be in Ur Chasdim today.