Friday, October 19, 2018

The Responsibility of the Gift

The greatest gift of our generation that the Jewish people have experienced has arguably been the rebirth of Jewish life in its ancestral homeland. The population in the land of Israel currently stands at about 8.5 million of which well over 6 million people are Jews. Besides all the modern advances the modern Jewish state has made in areas of medicine, science and hi-tech, it has one of the advanced militaries in the world. There has been a spiritual rebirth in the land as well. There are more people studying Torah and davening in the Land of Israel for the first time in over two thousand years. Our people have prayed for a return to Zion for thousands of years and it is being realized in our lifetime. Of course, we continue to pray for the complete redemption with the arrival of the Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. But for now, we are grateful to G-d for the special gift of the Land of Israel and our ability to access the land.

Sadly, the legitimate presence of the Jewish people to its ancestral homeland continued to get challenged and contested. The so-called “international community” frequently condemns the ability of Jews to purchase or build homes. It is noteworthy that it was considered a news item that the Israeli government approved a new Jewish neighborhood inChevron. The government approved for the construction of 31 homes, two kindergartens, a daycare center and a public park in the Hezekiah Quarter of Chevron. This was followed by a blanket condemnation by much of the world. Some Jewish organizations joined the opportunity to condemn the action of homes and day care center going up in a residential neighborhood. Indeed, there was a leader of a high profile Jewish organization that was invited to speak at the United Nations Security Council to condemn the building of residential areas in certain parts of Israel.

With all this in the background, it is important to recall the commentary of the first Rashi in the Torah. He writes that the primary purpose of studying the book of Bereishis/Genesis is to teach about the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. In this weeks parsha, we study that G-d promised our ancestor Avraham that this land will belong to his decsendants. Immediately afterwards we find that he called out in the name of G-d. Our rabbis have taught that Avraham lived his life as an ambassador for G-d. the conduct and everyday dealings of Avraham reflected Godliness and people were eager to connect with G-d because Avraham was such a great role model. This drives home an important lesson that we know of but need to remind ourselves periodically. With privileges come responsibilities. The privilege of living in the Land of Israel comes with the responsibility of being the most effective ambassadors for Hashem. Let us pray that our generation lives up to this great challenge.

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