Imagine if Moses were to come to America today with the mission of bringing the Jews to Israel. Chances are that his call would be met by deaf ears. Let’s face it - outside of a few weirdos, who would listen?
By and large, the Jews of America are too busy with their schooling, their careers, their businesses, their investments and vacations. Some would question his authority. Others would doubt that Hashem had really sent him. Liberal and Reconstructionist Jews would answer like Pharaoh, “Who is Hashem that I should listen to him?” Others would laugh at Moses’s Biblical garments and wooden staff.
Probably most of them would tell him to get lost.
“Aliyah is suicide,” some would tell him, like the Spies and the followers of Korach of old.
Not that it would ruffle Moses. After all, he had witnessed the very same scenario before, when he came to take the Jews out of Egypt. Back then, only a fifth of the Jews agreed to follow him to the Land of Israel. Four-fifths of the Egypt-loving Jews died in the plague of darkness.
Unfortunately this same dense darkness has enveloped Diaspora Jews today. The Torah terms is “darkness mamash” meaning literal darkness. This is a darkness so thick, you can actual feel it.
Jews who have made aliyah and who go back to America, or France, or England, to visit relatives, know what I mean. After speaking with fellow Jews there for a few minutes, you get the creepy feeling that they are totally out of touch with reality. Whenever I have to travel to America, I get the feeling that I am in a gigantic Alzheimer’s ward, where the patients have forgotten who they are.
Their number one concern is success and achievement – attaining the “good life” in America. Rebuilding the Jewish People in the Land of Israel is worthy of a donation, but certainly not the main concern of their lives.
I’m not talking about devoted Arutz Sheva addicts who, first thing every morning, click on to the website to see what’s happening “ba’Aretz.” I am talking about your average assimilated, Haredi, or Modern Orthodox Jew. Washington D.C. is their capital. America is their homeland. Judaism is their religion, not their nationality. In their Diaspora-distorted reality, they are Americans first. The proof is that hearing the “Star Spangled Banner” at baseball games gives them goose bumps. Their children pledge allegiance to the American flag. Their forefathers are Betsy Ross and George Washington. If Moses himself came and tried to persuade them that the Land of Israel was their home, and not America, or Canada, or Australia, or Mexico, they’d look at him like he was nuts.
I am not blaming them. The darkness of materialism is so great, who can fight against it? And there is nobody there to teach them about the centrality of Eretz Yisrael to Torah. At best, Jewish life in America revolves around the annual Federation dinner, or the shul, not around rebuilding our Nation in Israel. Instead of working to bring an end to the exile, they endeavor to lengthen it by strengthening their communities there.
The finale of the Pesach Seder, “Next year in Jerusalem,” has become an empty slogan. Just like waiting for Mashiach. Like with Moses, if Mashiach were to show up in Brooklyn or South Florida or Lakewood, he’d be chased out of town for upsetting their plans. That’s darkness “mamash.”
Nonetheless, Hashem has promised us that there will be a happy ending. Just as He is gathering the Jews in the Ukraine back to the Promised Land, one way or another He will bring the Jews of America home to Israel as well. Those of them who remain. In the meantime, happy Pesach!
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."