Homeless Jews

Come home already.

Tzvi Fishman

OpEds Tzvi Fishman
Tzvi Fishman

As of the year 2016, there are approximately 8 million homeless Jews around the world. Unlike other homeless people, these Jews don’t live on the street, but in comfortable apartments, expensive two-story houses, and villas with swimming pools. Nonetheless, they are homeless because they do not live in their homeland, but rather in foreign, gentile lands.

All of these homeless Jews, no matter how financially stable they are, and no matter the size of their Jewish community, are minorities in alien lands. They live in other people’s countries, surrounded by foreign cultures, foreign languages, foreign neighbors, foreign societies, Christmas pageants and Easter parades, like strangers in strange lands. Many of them talk about going home to Israel one day, but in the meantime they are homeless – barely tolerated aliens, temporary visitors, wanderers, gypsies, exiled Jews who have chosen to remain in exile rather than to return to their home.

The universally accepted Torah giant, the Rambam, states in his opus halakhic work, the Mishna Torah: “In all times, a Jew must live in the Land of Israel, even in a city where most of the inhabitants are gentiles, and not live in the Diaspora, even in a city where most of the inhabitants are Jews” (Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 5:12.)

So essential is the Land of Israel to Torah observance that the halakhah states: “In all generations, it is forbidden to leave the Land of Israel, except to learn Torah, or to get married, or to rescue Jews or Jewish property from the gentiles, and then one must return to the Land of Israel. Also it is permissible to leave the Land temporarily for business reasons – but to dwell outside of the Land of Israel is forbidden, unless there is a dire famine in the Land” (Ramban, Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 5:9.)

There are several reasons for this. First, Hashem instructed the Jewish people to live in the Land of Israel, again and again and again. The Torah is filled with this command. Again and again in the Book of Devarim, Hashem tells the Jewish People that He wants them to keep the Torah in the Land of Israel. All of the Prophets of Israel clearly reiterate this message, teaching that the goal of the Torah is the rebuilding of the Jewish Nation in the Land of Israel.

The Torah is more than putting on Tefillin, keeping kosher, being a kind individual, and binging out at a gala Kiddush on Shabbat. The Torah is the NATIONAL CONSTITUTION of the Nation of Israel, and, as such, it cannot be fulfilled in its national splendor in alien, gentile lands. Obviously, you can’t have a Jewish king, and a Jewish army, and a Jewish Sanhedrin, and the Holy Temple when you live in a gentile country. In fact, over two-thirds of the Mishna can only be realized when the majority of the Jewish People live in Eretz Yisrael.

The Prophet Isaiah teaches us that the word of Hashem comes to the world from Zion and Yerushalayim ( (Isaiah, 2:3.), not from Brooklyn, Yeshiva University, or Boca Raton. Only in the Land of Israel is the Jewish People considered one, and only when all the Jewish People are in Israel does Hashem’s Oneness appear in the world, as King over all the Earth. The Shekinah, the Divine Presence,  only appears in the Land of Israel when the Children of Israel return to its borders.

As Hashem repeatedly declares in the Book of Devarim, and as our Prophets teach over and over, atonement, salvation, and true enlightenment and peace for the Jewish People, and for the world, will only come when the Jewish People return home to Israel.

So why remain homeless? Why hold up the process? Why delay the great day? We have Shabbos in Israel too. And Johnny Walker Black Label. And Bushmills Irish Whiskey. And mouth-watering Norwegian Salmon. What are you waiting for?    


Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Jewish Culture and Creativity. Before making Aliyah to Israel in 1984, he was a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbis A. Y. Kook and T. Y. Kook. His other books include: "The Kuzari For Young Readers" and "Tuvia in the Promised Land". His books are available on Amazon.Recently, he directed the movie, "Stories of Rebbe Nachman."