The sweet Diaspora

The goal of the Exodus was to bring the liberated Nation to the Land of Israel. Sinai was a stop along the way, not the final destination. Paris, Berlin, London, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles are never mentioned.

Tzvi Fishman, | updated: 12:38

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Tzvi Fishman
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One of the guests who came to our home this Shabbat for a meal was a young, secular Jewish fellow from Los Angeles, who is touring the country for the first time. He said that during his time in Jerusalem, he visited a few yeshivas for English speakers, with the thought that perhaps he would stay two or three months and try some yeshiva learning.

At one Haredi yeshiva, he attended a lecture about Israel. The Rabbi who taught the class said that the Torah was given outside the Land of Israel to teach that the Torah was meant to be lived everywhere. Our guest wanted to hear my take on the matter.

I was savoring a mouthful of my wife’s delicious food when he asked the question, which set off an automatic spasm in my throat, causing me to choke.  Our guest was quite startled, but politely played down his shock. . One of my sons quickly helped me get back to normal breathing, but it seemed to me that I had answered his question in the clearest way I could. 

Let me explain.

The universally respected treatise of Jewish Faith, “The Kuzari,” by 12th century scholar Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, explains the exact opposite. He says that the Sinai is a part of the Land of Israel, and that the Torah was given to us there to teach that Hashem wants us to live our Torah lives precisely in Eretz Yisrael.

Even if you want to argue and say that the Sinai Peninsula and Mount Sinai are not included in the Biblical boundaries of the Land of Israel, the fact that the Torah was given there actually comes to teach that Hashem does not want the Jews to live Torah lives in the Diaspora, for after giving the Jewish People the Torah, Hashem tells us to continue on with our journey and go up to the Land of Israel – the true place for keeping the Torah, (Devarim, 1:6-8).

Later, when the Spies return from the Land of Israel and give their evil report, discouraging the Jews from continuing on to live in the Land, Hashem calls them rebels and non-believers, and punishes the Nation severely, (Devarim, 1:26-39). 

The goal of the Exodus was to bring the liberated Nation to the Land of Israel. Sinai was a stop along the way, not the final destination. Paris, Berlin, London, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles are never mentioned. Time and again throughout the Book of Devarim, Hashem tells the Jews to live in the Land of Israel:

“Now therefore, hearken O Israel, to the statutes and to the judgments which I teach you to do them, that you may live and go in and possess the Land which the L-rd G-d of your fathers gives you (Devarim, 4:1).

“Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the L-rd my G-d commanded me, that you should act accordingly in the Land whither you go in to possess” (Devarim, 4:5).

“And the L-rd commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might do them in the Land into which you go over to possess (Devarim, 4:14).

“Thou shall keep therefore His statutes and His commandments which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou may prolong thy days upon the Land which the L-rd thy G-d gives thee, forever” (Devarim, 4:40).

“I will speak to thee all of the commandments and the statutes and the judgments, which thou shall teach them, that they may do them in the Land which I gave them to possess” (Devarim, 5:27).

“You shall walk in all the ways which the L-rd your G-d has commanded you, that you may live, and that it be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the Land which you shall possess (Devarim, 5:30).

“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments, which the L-rd your G-d commanded to teach you, that you might do them in the Land into which you go to possess it (Devarim, 6:1).

“Hear therefore, O Israel, and take care to do it, that it may be well with thee, and that you may increase mightily, as the L-rd G-d of thy fathers has promised thee, in that Land that flows with milk and honey” (Devarim, 6:3).

“All the commandments which I command thee this day shall you observe to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the Land which the L-rd swore to your fathers (Devarim, 8:1).

“Therefore shall you keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the Land, into which you go to possess it; that you may prolong your days in the Land, which the L-rd swore to your fathers to give to them, a Land flowing with milk and honey” (Devarim, 11:8)

“in the Land….”

“in the Land….”

“in the Land….” 

To cite just a few of the verses.

Our guest got the wrong message– and the Rabbi who misled him did as well.




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