From the Rabbi’s Study
As we approach the Jewish New Year, we read the concluding sections of the Torah. This past week we actually read two Torah portions: “Nitzavim” and “Vayelech”! (Deuteronomy 29:9 – 31:30). This happens in order to ensure that the entire Torah can be finished every year, and started anew with Genesis.
Let’s take a look at an excerpt from the portion of “Nitzavim”:
“The Lord your God will return your captivity and have mercy upon you and he will gather you in from all the nations to He had scattered you. Even if you will be dispersed to the end of the Heavens – from there your God will gather you…God will gather you and bring you back to the land that your forefathers possessed and you shall posses it.” (Deuteronomy 30:3-5)
This excerpt is nothing less than the Torah’s prophecy of Aliyah – the Jewish people’s return to their homeland. The word Aliyah means to “ascend” or “go up” referring to the ancient Jewish teaching that Israel is the highest place in the world. While that may not be true geographically, it is certainly true spiritually.
Aliyah is a theme that continually recurs in the daily prayers as well as on all major holidays. For 2,000 years we’ve been saying “Next Year in Jerusalem” and finally – it is our generation that gets to witness the fulfillment of these prayers and prophecies! They’ve been coming from Russia and the former Soviet Union, across Europe, from Ethiopia, Yemen, Morocco, Iran, Argentina, and even record breaking numbers from North America in recent years. It is the El-Al planes that are the “wings” of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 40:31) upon which God promises to return the Jews back to the land of Israel
Aliyah is fundamental to the Zionist dream as well as the most practical movement in order to ensure a Jewish majority in Israel. In fact, the vast majority of Israelis are first and second generation immigrants. According to Israeli law, every single Jew is entitled to make “Aliyah” – to immigrate and become a citizen of the Sate of Israel immediately upon request. According to Jewish Law living in Israel is superior than living anywhere else.
As the Torah nears its completion, the portion of Nitzavim gives us one last reminder, one last dose of inspiration to never forget where Jews ought to live – the Land of Israel. Aliyah – being a part of and forming Jewish history, fulfilling the promise that God made to the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Shabbat Shalom from Israel,
Rabbi Ari Enkin
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