Yshai Amichai
Yshai Amichai Courtesy

When viewing our purpose and role as Jews, from a Torah perspective, there are two main national goals that all Jews should strive to achieve: The first goal is to live in Israel, to be a nation in our Land. The second goal is to collectively observe God’s Commandments, to be a nation of God.

Once we willingly achieve these two goals, which ultimately depend upon our collective decisions and actions, we should essentially reach Messianic times, when the Holy Temple may be rebuilt in Jerusalem.

We are not there yet, although we should strive to reach that point soon. We have a sovereign nation in Israel, but many Jews do not live here. Most Jews also do not observe God’s Commandments, and surely not collectively as a nation.

Nation of God

Being a nation of God is no simple matter. We would need to submit to God’s Kingship and accept His Authority. In exile that will not happen. We are ruled by the nations in the Diaspora and are forced to submit to their authorities.

We can only serve God partially in exile, and only to the extent that our host nations may permit it. Even to serve God partially in exile, we must be willing to do so voluntarily, often in the face of opposing pressures. We should not expect national success in exile. Mere survival is commendable there.

Expect to be a nation of God only in Israel, which means that we must collectively make Aliyah to achieve this. However, there are plenty of Jews in Israel, and we have Jewish sovereignty here, and yet we are not a nation of God that accepts His Authority. Clearly, being given the freedom is not enough, we must also make the choice collectively as a nation.

Aliyah

Most Jews in Israel are either Jewish refugees or their descendants. They did not have to make extra sacrifices to come here, and the immediate benefits were clear to them. It was not hard to convince them to make Aliyah, and they were not required to serve God here. Israel could have attracted anyone this way, so we cannot give most Israelis the credit for being here.

Which is also the why we have not achieved the second goal of becoming a nation of God in Israel, although we clearly have the potential and the freedom to do so. Jews live in Israel the way they lived in exile, where they were required to serve the gentiles. In both places, it seems, we have reached a dead end in our national progress.

I wrote in the past that Jewish outreach is not enough. We need to bring Jews to Israel. But Aliyah is also not enough, we need to live as Jews in Israel. The two go hand in hand, and they complement each other.

Two Legs to Walk Upon

Aliyah and Jewish observance are the two legs we need to walk upon to achieve our national goals. Both are essential, and they complement each other, but they need to be done together. We need to be a nation in our Land, and we need to be a nation of God.

The religious Jews of the diaspora lack the national identity that the secular Jews of Israel have, and many religious Jews of Israel lack that identity as well. They seem to be standing on one leg, and a weak one at that, because we do not serve God collectively as a nation.

The secular Jews of Israel lack the observance that religious Jews have. They seem to be standing on one weak leg as well, upon a national Land-based identity, that includes even non-Jews as Israelis. They are far from serving God both individually and collectively, and they seem to be drifting further away, blown astray by the winds of human ideologies.

The secular Jews of the Diaspora seem to be legless. They are the most at risk. They lack both the Land-based national identity, and the God based national identity. Whichever leg they are willing to even try on for size, should be diligently provided to them, before they are completely lost to Israel.

Whether that leg be Aliyah or Jewish observance, is entirely up to them, and makes little difference in the long run. The second leg may be added later, as most Jews seem to be missing an arm and a leg these days anyway. The goal must therefore be to restore all our people upon these two legs, to be able to walk with God.

Israel Outreach

In combination of these two efforts, bringing Jews back to Israel and bringing Jews back to God, the common denominator is the outreach, which we should all agree upon and work together to achieve. Many Jews are lost, and these are the two things that can bring them back, and they will be done most effectively and successfully when done together and in cooperation.

You can call this Israel outreach. The word Israel stands for both these things: For the nation in its Land and for the nation of God. Outreach is required to bring our people back, to be the Israel we were always meant to be, both in body and in sprit.

Zionism focuses on the body, and Jewish outreach focuses on the spirit, but as body and soul together, we are Israel. We need to reach out and bring more Jews back to Israel, to the nation of God.

Yshai Amichai is a father of six and an author with a legal education, whose books advocate upholding the Torah as a national Constitution. He may be contacted at: yshaia@gmail.com

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