Making Aliyah
Making Aliyah Flash 90

“Hashem said to Avram: Get yourself away from your country and from your birth-place and from your father’s house” (Genesis 12:1).

“But Lord, how can I leave my country? Look – I’m 75 years old, You can hardly expect me to make a new start at my age, can You?

“If I thought you couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t be telling you to. But trust Me, you can.”

“Look, if I were 30 years younger, then maybe. But at my time of life…”

“You remember when you went to visit the Land of Canaan five years ago? You were 70 then, you didn’t find it all that strenuous to travel, did you? And admit it – you were greatly inspired by seeing the Holy Land and travelling through it, weren’t you?” [1]

“Yes Lord, Canaan is definitely a nice place to visit, it can be inspiring – but it’s no place for a religious Jew to live! Here in Haran I live in peace, I can worship You, I can preach Your message to the good folks here. What’ll happen to me in Canaan? The people there are all idolaters, I can’t be religious there the way I am here, my children certainly won’t grow up religious. There are wars over there in Canaan, I’ll have to raise an army and fight, my children will have to fight. I can do better by staying here in Haran.”

“I’m telling you to leave Haran and come to live in Canaan.”

“Oy, what’ll I do for parnosseh [livelihood] there? – Here in Haran I have a nice big house, in Canaan I’ll be reduced to living in a tent. Here in Haran there’s plenty to eat, while Canaan is devastated by famines and droughts.”

“You think I can’t provide you with the sustenance you’ll need in My holy Land?”

“You know that we’re forbidden to rely upon miracles. When the economy there has been built up enough for me to live there as comfortably as I do here in Haran, then let’s speak again.”

“I’m telling you to go and live in Canaan. Why is that so hard for you to accept?”

“You mean when Mashiach comes I have to go and live there, right?”

“No, Abram, I mean now.”

“Ah, now I understand, You mean as soon as there’s a true Torah-government ruling the land.”

“No, I mean now. Today. Before Mashiach comes, before there’s a Torah-government.

“So of course You mean when the economy is stable enough to guarantee that Sarai and I will be able to maintain our current standard of living, and when You can guarantee no droughts, floods, or famines.”

“No, Abram, I mean now, even while the economy is unstable and there are wars going on.”

“But why? What will I have in Canaan that I don’t have here in Haran? Here I can worship You devoutly, I can do my own shechita, I can keep all of your Mitzvot even though You haven’t even given me the Torah yet. What can I do in Canaan that I can’t do a hundred times better here in Haran?”

“You can found the Hebrew Nation, that’s what. Lech lecha – go away from here, leave your father’s house, leave all your comforts and familiar surroundings, and go to Canaan, distant though it be. Because there – and only there – I will make you into a great nation, and there I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and you yourself will be a blessing.”

“I can do that here in Haran. Look, Lord, I don’t want to quibble, but here in Haran I know the people, I speak their language, I can influence them. And anyway – one day, when the time is ripe and Your children will be ready to live in Canaan, they’ll have to have supporters here in Haran to make sure that the Haranite Government will support them. We’ll need influence here, won’t we?”

“No, you don’t. If you did, then I’d be telling you to remain here in Haran. But I’m not, I’m telling you to go to Canaan.”

“Alright, Lord. Give me one clinching argument, one irresistible reason why living in Canaan is better than living in Haran.”

“The clincher? – Alright: Canaan is the Holy Land. It’s the one place in the world which I have chosen to make the glory of My Shekhinah manifest therein. Is that sufficient for you?”

“Lord, You know that as long as the Holy Temple hasn’t been built and there’s no Torah-government in Canaan, Canaan is galut [exile].”

“Abram, let’s cut this short. Hebrew destiny depends of the Holy Land of Canaan. Do you wish to found the Hebrew Nation, yes or no? Do you want to be part of Jewish destiny and eternity, yes or no? – The choice is yours.”

“Oh Lord, I really have to consult with the Rabbis and see what they say. Let’s talk later. Say, when Mashiach is here.”


Endnotes

[1] The בְּרִית בֵּין הַבְּתָרִים, the Covenant Between the Parts, is recorded later in Parashat Lech Lecha (Genesis 15). From the בְּרִית בֵּין הַבְּתָרִים until the Exodus was 430 years, from which we calculate that Avram was 70 years old at the time, but it was recorded out of chronological sequence (אֵין מוּקְדַם וּמְאוּחַר בַּתּוֹרָה). G-d forged the Covenant Between the Parts with Avram and his descendants before Avram came to live in Canaan; however His words “…to give you this Land” (15:7), “the fourth generation will return to here” (15:16) indicate that Avram was in Canaan at the time. Hence the explanation that Avram visited Canaan when he was 70, five years before making Aliyah. See Seder Olam Rabbah Chapter 1.