I am writing this in response to a to a letter written to Laura Ben-David from Rabbi Warren Kasztl, since she herself said “it is in no doubt meant for all of us”; i.e. Israelis.
In the letter he extended a thank you to Israelis for the freedoms and privileges Americans are afforded due to the citizens of Israel.
Here’s the quote:
“I think what many, even in the religious community, tend to overlook is the reality that a great part of the security we enjoy here is directly related to the contribution families like yours provide in the State of Israel. As much as we want to believe that we’re “at home” here, the reality is that we are not. We may have flourished here, but this is not our land. It belongs to others, and it’s their value system that thrives here, and in a very subtle way influences everyone.”
I appreciate his recognition that their future depends on us and not, as many others believe, that Israel is dependent on America Jewry. The purpose,however, of our Aliyah is not to help provide a secure and free life for Jews in America. We live in Israel to realize our age old dream and actively participate in our national destiny. We want to be a part of the game not a viewer from the sidelines.
He apologizes by saying,
“My purpose in writing this is to say thank you to YOU and your family. Without you and the millions like you, I’m not certain who or what I would be from a Jewish perspective. Your presence and contribution in Israel surpasses ANYTHING I can do, and is appreciated more than I can express. From you, the logical response is “make Aliyah”. You’re right. I can give you MANY reasons why I’m still here. Frankly, whatever validity said answers have is nullified by the reality that what we ask you to endure at times like this renders said answers as selfish and trivial. For that I owe you an apology.״
I believe his apology is misplaced. He should apologize to himself for depriving he and his family a life that was meant to be lived as Jews in their homeland. A life I would not trade for any freedoms and privileges he perceives America has that Israel lacks. We are the privileged ones. We live in a miraculous land. A magnificent land. A land G-d promised to us in the covenant he made with our forefathers. It is the land to which we prayed to, with tears in our eyes and aching hearts for 2000 years! It is a land for which our people have sacrificed their lives; A land we proudly continue to defend as an honor and a privilege. In Israel, a Jew has a different kind of freedom. A freedom of the neshama. We are like the Jews who left the spiritual bondage of an Egypt replete with materialism. We freely chose to devote ourselves to our higher purpose; Free to connect to our land, our history and to our people that gathered from the four corners of the earth to come together in this, our promised land.
He ends by saying,
“May we all merit to experience the final redemption, speedily in our days, together WHERE YOU ARE.”
My advice to him is to get up and take part in the redemptive process and come home to WHERE WE ARE. Don’t wait. You might miss the boat.