Making Aliya
Making Aliyaצילום: Vaad HaRabbanim

In the Musaf Prayer on Shabbat and the Festivals, we asked Hashem to “purify our hearts to serve You in truth.” This request teaches us that it is possible to serve Hashem in an untruthful manner. Simply put - there is a true way to serve Hashem and an untrue way.

For example, to hurry through one’s prayers without concentrating on the words is not the real way to pray. Another example, one which encompasses all of the Torah and the destiny of the Jewish People, concerns the mitzvah of living in Israel. According to the Torah, the Gemara, the Prophets of Israel, the Early and Later Torah Authorities, the Rambam, the Ramban, HaRav Yehuda HaLevi, the Gaon of Vilna, Rabbi Kook, the Israel Chief Rabbis, and all of the leading Torah Giants in Israel, including HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, of blessed memory, living in Israel is a commandment of the Torah in all generations including today.

Accordingly, the true way of serving Hashem is to live in the Land of Israel. The untrue way is to live in Gentile lands.

Needless to say, this pronouncement causes Jews in the Diaspora to utter a loud, “What are you talking about!?” Of course they believe that they are serving Hashem in the truest fashion, but they are mistaken. Granted, until the establishment of the State of Israel, it was very difficult and sometimes impossible for Jews to make Aliyah. They had no choice but to live in foreign lands. But with the creation of Medinat Yisrael and its miraculous development into becoming one of the leading countries in the world, there is no longer a reason to exist scattered amongst the nations.

Unfortunately, having lived in foreign places for so long, especially in western countries where anti-Semitism seemed no longer a threat and where a Jew could enjoy a comfortable standard of living, moving to Israel was no longer a serious consideration for most Jews, including the religious. Besides they had their own Rabbis who said that the mitzvah of living in the Holy Land wasn’t an obligation today and that it was perfectly OK to live amongst the goyim until the Moshiach arrived. However, the Prophet Ezekiel comes along every year at this time to teach us otherwise, as we read in the Haftorah this past Shabbat:

“And when they came to the nations into which they came, they profaned My Holy Name, in that men said of them: These are the people of the L-rd, and they are gone out of His land” (Ezekiel, 36:20).

This prophecy is coming to tell us the mere fact that Jews are living outside the Land of Israel is a Chillul Hashem, meaning a Desecration of G-d. Why? As Rashi explains: because in the eyes of the Gentiles, our presence in the Diaspora proclaims that G-d lacks the power to keep His children in His Land. That was the situation throughout the long centuries of Exile. Now in our time, when G-d has returned the Land of Israel to the Jews, the situation is even worse, for it seems, in the eyes of the Gentiles, that in clinging to our Diaspora communities we prefer foreign lands to His.

Everyone knows that most Jews have the money to hop on a plane, but instead, we turn our backs on the Promised Land, and choose to stay in America, Australia, South Africa, and France. This is a Desecration of G-d and certainly not the true way to serve Him. And this is why we ask Hashem to purify our hearts to serve Him in truth.

We are not talking about individual cases where someone must be in the Diaspora to take care of sick parents, or about an aging person who feels he is too old to begin life anew. We are taking about the tragic and shameful situation of entire Jewish communities happily ensconced in the darkness of exile. Based on this verse of Ezekiel, Torah Luminary Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt"l, head of the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, taught that the Diaspora is the worst Desecration of G-d that there is, since it involves so many Jews.

The opposite is also true, he explained:

“Today, we are struggling between the phenomenon of Kiddush Hashem (the Sanctification of G-d’s Name) in our return to our Land, and Chillul Hashem (the Desecration of G-d’s Name) in our clinging to Galut. The greatest Sanctification of G-d is that which involves all of the Jewish People, as the prophecy of Ezekiel proclaims:

“And I will sanctify My great Name which was profaned amidst the nations, which you have profaned in the midst of them. And the nations shall know that I am the L-rd, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes” (Ezekiel, 36:23-24).

“How will G-d bring about this great Kiddush Hashem in the world?” Rabbi Kook asked, and answered with the continuing words of the prophet:

“For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and I will bring you into your own Land” (Ibid).

The greatest Sanctification of Hashem is the return of the Jewish People to Israel, and the true service of Hashem finds expression by living a life of Torah in His Land. May Hashem hear our weekly Musaf prayers and purify our hearts to serve Him in truth. Amen.

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."