This Shabbat, the 10th of Iyar, marked the birthdate of Theodor (Binyamin Ze’ev) Herzl whose vision and historic efforts on behalf of the Jewish People led to the foundation of Medinat Yisrael. Looking down at the magnificent city of Jerusalem from his resting place on Mount Herzl, he certainly can be proud of the child he helped give birth to - the modern State of Israel which has become a diamond of achievement and light in an ever-darkening world. On the other hand, looking down from heaven at the Diasporas of the West, Theodor Herzl may be turning over in his grave.

When Hashem first appeared to Moshe at the burning bush, he ordered Moshe to set out on the mission to bring the enslaved Jews out of Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land. Faithfully, Moshe confronted Pharaoh and conveyed Hashem’s command to “Let My People go!” This cry of freedom became the cry of Theodor Herzl and decades later the cry during the struggle for Soviet Jewry – “Let My People go!”

Today the cry of the Jewish leadership throughout the Diaspora has been twisted into the very opposite: “Let my people stay!” Instead of longing for freedom in the Jewish Homeland, the Jews who remain in gentile lands cry out “Let us stay here amongst the gentiles in a foreign land, in a land not our own!” They demand their democratic right as citizens of America and France and England and Belgium to remain faithful citizens of these gentile countries, free to live there in liberty and equality like everyone else. But they are not citizens like everyone else – they are Jews - strangers in strange lands. And now with the explosion of anti-Semitism throughout the world, Diaspora Jews tragically cry out: “Let my people stay!”

Even though the pavement is burning under their feet, the Jews of America cry out “Let my people stay!” “Let us remain loyal Americans,” they plead. “Don’t force us to move to Israel. Don’t force us to make Aliyah. The Torah has changed! The G-d of Israel has changed! We are no longer the Children of Israel! We are the Children of America and England and Australia and of Germany. The vision of Theodor Herzl is no longer needed. Today we can remain in countries not our own as a loyal minority. The temporary hatred will pass.”

Across the spectrum of Jewish organizations throughout the Diaspora, Aliyah is not on anyone’s agenda. Here and there a courageous Rabbi may venture to speak about the great mitzvah of living in Israel, but no Aliyah Movement exists. In North America Nefesh B’Nefesh works hard to rescue whatever brave souls that it can but the same 2000-3000 pioneer olim arrive each year, whether in good times or bad, a sad trickle of American Jewry, a mere .06 percent.

Obviously, this great yearning for foreign lands is the antithesis of Torah which teaches us to always yearn for Jerusalem and for life in our own Jewish Homeland. It is the antithesis of Herzl’s great dream. Tragically, we have forgotten who we are. But Hashem has not forgotten. Just as He sent the blows of the Egyptian slave masters, He is sending the blows of today’s anti-Semites to remind us who we are. To remind us that we don’t belong in foreign lands, just as He reminded us time and again in our wanderings across the globe whenever we believed that we had finally found refuge in a friendly gentile land.

It is almost too late to avoid the inevitable. Yet there is still a chance. With great courage and by accepting the inescapable truth of Jewish destiny, we can change the cry of “Let my people stay!” back to the original cry of “Let My People go!” As the Prophet proclaims, “For from Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem.”