I was planning to post an excerpt from my novel "The Discman and the Guru," but I encountered some technical problem which prevented me, so in the meantme, I'd like to ask you all a question.
This past Shabbat, Orthodox congregations recited the blessing over the upcoming new month (may it be a good month for everyone). We pray:
"May He who performed miracles for our fathers, and freed them from slavery, speedily redeem us and gather our dispersed people from the four corners of the earth, so that all Israel be joined in friendship together."
A person who says this prayer, what is he or she thinking? To me the prayer is asking G-d to redeem us, presumably from a bad situation, otherwise we wouldn't need to be redeemed. Then when the prayer says that we are dispersed, I understand that we are not where we should be. And I understand that we are to be gathered to the Land of Israel. That's what the prayer means, doesn't it? That we don't belong in the Diaspora? That we should feel uncomfortable there. That we belong in Israel and are longing to go. Isn't that what the words are saying?
This isn't the only time when we ask G-d to take us out from the exile and bring us to Israel. Every morning before reciting the Shema, we say: "Bring us home from the four corners of the earth, and help us to walk upright to our Land."
Once again, I understand that I am supposed to feel a desire to escape the Diaspora and come to Israel as a proud Jew. Isn't this what the prayer is requesting?
Also in the Amidah prayer which we say three times a day, we ask G-d to redeem us and to assemble us from the four corners of the earth and gather us to Israel.
When someone says this in America, what is he thinking? Doesn't he see that G-d has already cleared the way and all we have to do is get on the plane?
In the Sabbath Musaf prayer, Jews the world over pray to G-d to: "Bring us in joy back to our Land and plant us within our borders."
Isn't it wonderful that we now have a kosher airline, built-up cities in Israel, a stable, progressive economy, and villas and modest apartments waiting to be inhabited all over the country? What are people waiting for?
On the Jewish holidays, we ask G-d to: "Unite our scattered people from among the gentiles, and gather our dispersed from the four corners of the earth. Bring us to Zion, Your city with ringing song, to Jerusalem the place of Your Sanctuary with everlasting joy."
What do people think when they say these words? Can anybody tell me? I simply can't figure it out.
This is the best photo I could get on my cellphone as HaRav Lior received a hero's welcome when he arrived this evening to the traffic blocked entrance to Jerusalem.