The return home. The return to the land. To the golden city of Jerusalem, to the green mountains of the Shomron. The land of our forefathers. The land of the Tanach, the Hebrew Jewish Bible. The return to our families after all this time. The return to where we belong. The sounds of houses being built and children playing in the streets. Our Yishuv filled with moving trucks of New French Olim, people returning home.
Over the year on our Shlichut, as we traveled through the United States, and as we went around communities, I realized something strange. As I sat on the bed in our small motel room in Tennessee, I saw the Bible placed on the bedside, it was the New Testament. I looked at it and was interested, I was curious to know more, I imagined myself being considered by others an enlightened person for knowing other cultures and philosophies.
Through the year I met with all types of people who wanted to learn about Judaism through all sorts of foreign texts, through other nation’s view points, to learn everything but our own. Our own was not good enough. It is not considered “pluralistic” or “politically correct” to learn only one point of view. As I sat there in the motel room looking at the Bible, I suddenly realized how absurd it was that as a 24-year-old Jew I never learned the whole Tanach — the Hebrew Jewish Bible, our Tanach, how is this possible? I realized that I too have fallen for the fictitious multiculturalism that includes all cultures but our own. How absurd was it that I imagined learning all of these foreign texts first before I knew our very own?! How is it possible that we have completely lost touch with what is uniquely ours, and has been our history and heritage for 3,000 years? We know all about all the Harry Potter characters, but nothing about the Prophets Chagai Zecharia and Malachi? We can name all the popular people on Facebook today, but can’t name the historic kings of our nation?! We know all the popular poetry but what about our very own beautiful Book of Psalms? I there and then decided to start learning the entire Tanach, our Bible, our unique “historiosophic” view on life and creation, from beginning to end.
On the flight home, as I was reading the final chapters of Ezra and Nechemia, the last chapters I had left for the first time of completing learning the whole Tanach, I read the verses with tears in my eyes. As they describe the return home, the return where not everyone chose to return back then, here I was living this amazing amazement of a reality: returning to our own sovereign state, our homeland and heritage. To a place where Jews walk free and tall, to a place where Hebrew is our language again.
I remembered all the special verses all throughout the entire Tanach, prophecies that have come true, understandings that are so fundamental to our understanding of Judaism and of Israel. The foundations of our faith, of our way of life, of how and what we think, this is the Book of the Jewish People, this book is us, it is who we are.
Today, it is time to return home. Home as in Israel, to return home as in our heritage, our language, our history, our rich wide array of Jewish thought, of Jewish philosophy and life. To return to the Tanach. To return to our families. To return to Hashem.
We must not go out to learn what we have within; we must not look at the grass that may seem greener everywhere but here. There is a time and a place for everything, some things must come first in line. To know our true self is a top priority.
To return to our true selves, to our true Judaism, to our true meaning of life as a link in this great chain in history — the Nation of Israel.