As I read these Torah portions, I cannot help but think about the 12 Tribes. We have read about their birth and many of the challenges they faced. They confronted Esav, battled with Shechem and now they are in the midst of the major story with Yosef; his dreams, their response and ultimately their encounter with him in Egypt. The tale of these 12 men are not just some bedtime story… they are the foundation of Am Yisrael! Yet, as tragic as it sounds, as the pages of Jewish history were being written, 10 of these 12 tribes disappeared into thin air. They were exiled from Israel (about 2,600 years ago) and never seen or heard from again. Yes, there are Rabbis and historians today who make various claims about certain people around the world – and these must be verified – but, by and large, the 10 tribes are gone.
I recently attended a shiur about the missing tribes and what might have happened to them, but during the entire presentation I kept thinking about one thing; What’s with the missing tribe of today? With all the pain about losing 10 of our 12 brothers, let’s be honest… there’s not much we can do about. This event happened 2,600 years ago – during the reign of King Hoshea ben Ela – when they were driven from the land. It’s sad and it’s tragic but it was a very long time ago and is completely out of our control. There is, however, one thing that is in our control – the one missing tribe of today. The Jewish tribe of here and now that is simply missing from the greatest stage world history has given the Jewish nation. I am referring to the Jewish tribe of American Jewry.
(Note: In reality, the tribes of British, French, Canadian, South African and Australian Jewry are also missing but I will limit this article to American Jewry, since that is what I am familiar with. Most of what I will be writing below applies to these Jews as well.)
Dearest American Jews; I will be direct in my words and not politically correct. What are you still doing there? Years ago, when the modern State of Israel was declared, life was indeed very difficult. For several decades, most people lived in cramped apartments, didn’t have a telephone, car, television or even an air conditioner. Very few people spoke English, medical care was not what someone from America was used to and milk came in weird bags. The economy was a mess, inflation was out of control and the Lira changed to the Shekel and then the Shekel changed to the New Shekel! However, for the last 30 years, Israel has become the most modern country imaginable. Street parking is via an app on a smart-phone, shopping malls are everywhere, medical centers are in every city and most Israeli’s have large plasma tv’s in every room! Today, you can speak English anywhere you go, take the light rail all over Jerusalem, eat in the fanciest restaurants on the planet, swim in the cleanest beaches and enjoy free Wi-fi in most cities. Our milk is now in boxes, our economy is in better shape than the USA and most people who made Aliyah live in nicer and newer homes than what they had in America!
All of the above is on the physical and material side of things but there’s much more than that. Today’s Israel is heading in the direction of becoming the proud Jewish state we all dream about. Although you won’t read about this in the “fake news”, let me tell you what’s really happening. The shuls on Friday night – across Israel – are packed! Many people, wearing jeans and t-shirts, come to shul to welcome the Shabbat Queen and they sing “Kabbalat Shabbat” next to Jews wearing white shirts. It’s a display of Jewish unity that is growing more unbelievable every week. In addition to that, there are more Yeshivas today in Israel than ever before in Jewish history! But wait… there’s also more Ba’alei Teshuva today in Israel than ever before as well! People across the country are coming closer to Torah and Mitzvot by the thousands. Do you remember visiting Israel in the 70’s and 80’s? Outside of Jerusalem, you could barely find a kosher place to eat. Today, most of the restaurants in Tel Aviv, Herziliya, Ashkelon and Netanya are kosher while most of the restaurants in Eilat are Mehadrin!! (I’m not joking – I was there 3 weeks ago and couldn’t believe my eyes!!) Do you know why there are so many kosher places to eat? Very simple… because millions of Israelis want kosher food! In addition to that, there are shuls in every major shopping mall, in every Ikea and 9 shuls – yes, 9 – in Ben Gurion airport!
I know what you are going to say; what about the gay parade in Tel Aviv and even Jerusalem? And how about the movement to begin public transportation on Shabbat? Believe me, I know about all those things and yes, they are true, but that is exactly what happens in the days before Moshiach! On one hand, people come closer to Hashem and strive to be better and stronger in their devotion to our King. Yet, on the other hand, during these exact days, the forces of evil are strengthened, and they work overtime to spread hate, dissention and anti-Torah values.
This is why I can’t understand why Jews in America – and the other countries listed above – stay away at this time. As Jewish history is being written every hour in Jerusalem… how can you still live in New York and Chicago? After 2,000 years of exile, Hashem returned us to our land. We have an army – Baruch Hashem! – a government (well, not really… but you know what I mean…) and we are building the land. We are farming, building houses and establishing communities. We are starting businesses that compete on an international level and we are world leaders in medicine and technology. How can you stay away during these times? I promise you – yes, I believe this to the bottom of my soul – that in 100 years, nobody will be able to explain how Jews stayed in Miami and Baltimore during these days. Our national dream is being fulfilled… our prayers are being answered… what more will it take??? (Note: For those who still need a push, I am happy to inform you that Amazon now ships to Israel so there’s really no excuse!!)
Dearest friends; please don’t make Aliyah because of a shooting in Jersey City or a vandalized shul in Beverly Hills. Come here for the positive reasons, not the negative ones. Move to Israel simply because you are Jewish and your neshama can’t live outside the land. This is your home, your nation and your destiny! Help us build this country, fight the forces of evil and make Israel the strong and proud Jewish State it was destined to be. We are so close, but we need your help to finish the job. Don’t be another Jewish tribe that disappears… come home now. We’re waiting for you.
Am Yisrael Chai!