Chodesh tov! It’s a cool, beautiful morning in Yerushalayim, blue sky, white clouds, like the colors of the flag of Israel. Walking out of the mikvah, I took a deep holy breath of fresh air and paused to enjoy the incomparable beauty of Jerusalem. How our great great great grandparents, in their ghettos of Europe and Russia and Yemen and America, would have rejoiced to be here! For nearly 2000 years, our holy grandfathers and grandmothers prayed and prayed and prayed that the day would soon come when they could return to Jerusalem. And then, in our time, the miracle happened, the dream came true. From the ashes of the Holocaust, the dry bones of the Jewish people rose up from the cemetery of the exile and marched back to the Land of Israel, to be a free sovereign people in our own Jewish Land. With unparalleled bravery, sacrifice, and love for the Land of Israel, the fearless pioneers drained the disease-filled swamps, vanquished the robbers who laid claim to Israel’s eternal heritage, and rebuilt the desolate valleys and hilltops until, with G-d’s blessing, Israel became the talk and wonder of all the world.
Then something terrible happened. Though the gates to our homeland were opened, through the incredible kindness of G-d, and the sacrifice of waves of holy pioneers - apartments, and cities, and highways were built, with farms, and orchids, and industrial plants, and high-tech parks as advanced as any place on earth, with synagogues and yeshivot on every corner - after all of this miraculous revival, the great great grandchildren of the same holy grandfathers and grandmothers, who prayed and prayed and prayed for this very same golden opportunity, these same “enlightened” and “emancipated” grandchildren didn’t get on the plane. Instead, they preferred to remain in the same foreign gentile lands that their holy grandparents had so longed to flee.
How could it be? What happened?
True, last year, some 2,000 Jews made aliyah from America. 2,000 out of six million. It comes out to .0003 percent. What happened? What went wrong?
Yes, you can say that America is far away – on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. But what about the Jews of England, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium? They’re only three hours away. You can almost swim here! Still, outside of handfuls, they’re still eating croissantes and spaghetti in the bistros of Paris and Milan.
And yet Orthodox Jews pray three times a day, “Return us to Zion!”
Friends! What are you waiting for? Hashem has provided you with a Jewish airline to fly here. You could be here within hours! Why don’t you come?
This morning, leaving the mikvah on a hillside in Har Nof, as I paused to thank G-d for the great beauty of Yerushalayim, I gazed around at the Shechinah – the children going to school, speaking Hebrew, the old people waiting for buses, the stores, the gardens, the factories, the Jerusalem Forest, the monument of Yad Vashem and the Hadassah Hospital across the way, and the busy highway bringing workers to the Holy City from Tel Aviv. Yes, my good friends, this is the Shechinah, the down-to- earth presence of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. This is what we pray for every day in our Amidah prayers: “May our eyes behold Thy return in mercy to Zion. Blessed art Thou, O L-rd, who restores Thy Divine presence to Zion.”
The Shechinah is returning to Zion more and more each day. With every Jew who arrives, with every new house that is built, with every new settlement, and factory, and acre of farmland, the Divine Presence is returning to Zion. We only need to open our eyes and see it!
Do you want to be a part of this incredible Redemption – or to let it pass by while you sink deeper and deeper into the impurity of foreign lands, missing the boat of Jewish History completely, mouthing the out the prayers that your great grandparents would have given their lives to fulfill, when you could be here making history yourselves?
What do you chose? To live out your lives, drowning in the Jacuzzis of gentile cultures in gentile lands, or taking an active part in Jewish History and the Redemption of our People by fulfilling the dream of your grandparents and the call of the Prophets of Israel?
“And I will sanctify My great Name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have desecrated in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am the L-rd, says the L-rd G-d, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.”
How? How does Hashem erase the terrible desecration of His Name and Chillul Hashem of the exile, where the gentiles see the Jews as weak minorities in foreign lands, instead of their being a strong independent Jewish Nation in the Land that G-d gave them, as if G-d is too weak to bring them there, or doesn’t exist all together?
The Prophet gives us G-d’s answer:
“FOR I WILL TAKE YOU FROM AMONGST THE NATIONS, AND GATHER YOU OUT OF ALL COUNTRIES, AND WILL BRING YOU INTO YOUR OWN LAND… AND YOU SHALL DWELL IN THE LAND THAT I GAVE TO YOUR FATHERS; AND YOU SHALL BE MY PEOPLE, AND I WILL BE YOUR G-D” (Ezekiel, 36:16-32).
That, my friends, is happening now, in our days, with the return of the Jewish People to Israel. The greatest Kiddush Hashem in the world. It has been happening for the last hundred years. Open your eyes! Take a look! What are you waiting for? Turn off your laptops! Stop observing from the bleachers! Become a part of Jewish History now!