Aliyah Analogy

The Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin 102b, relates a very strange story concerning Rav Ashi and Menashe, King of Israel. Rav Ashi was giving a discourse about certain kings who despite their great Torah knowledge, chose the path of evil and idol worship.

King Menashe lived hundreds of years before Rav Ashi but appeared to him in a dream the following night. Menashe showed the rabbi that he was an even greater scholar than him. The rabbi asked him for an explanation. “If you were so great in your scholarship, how could you have been led to the path of something so primitive and repulsive as idol worship?” The king responded, “Don’t judge me. If you would have lived when I lived, you, too, would have worshiped idols. The allure was so great that only rare individuals were able to overcome that temptation.”

If it were possible for someone to jump ahead into the future and reflect on the times that we are now living in, he might ask the following question to the Jews of the Diaspora.

“If you were worthy to live during the period that followed the formation of the State of Israel, and you witnessed the incredible transformation of swamp land turned into an oasis; And you saw the ingathering of the exiles where the Jewish population went from 600,000 in 1948 to over six million in 2016;  And you were worthy to see the emergence of a Jewish army, yes a Jewish army, that with the help of G-d, was victorious in many wars against terrible odds;  And in a relatively short time, modern cities emerged that encouraged the development of high tech that became the envy of the world; And Jews were free to practice their religion where they would grow up not knowing what anti-semitism was; and despite all of that, you thought it better to remain in the Exile and not be part of the Jewish State and make Aliya, it makes no sense at all.”

The response of the present generation, might be very similar to that of King Menashe  “Don’t judge us. If you would have lived in our times where the desire for comfort was so great, and people did not have the courage to do the right thing; And rabbis told us it was okay to stay because they, too, were weak and did not know how to lead; And the value system emphasized the importance of feeling good and looking for short cuts; And even the Ultra Orthodox preached that you could be even more religious in your Jewish ghettos. The pull to stay comfortable was so great, that had you lived when we did, you, too, would not have moved to Israel.

During this period of the “Three Weeks”, where we mourn for the destruction of our Holy Temple, it is tragic that we do not learn the lessons of history. There are, thank G-d, many Jews that do understand the special times we are living in, and have made the commitment to do their part in strengthening our Homeland by bringing their families here to live. The inabilty to understand and comprehend how truly special these times are, is the very reason why we mourn.

May G-d grant the Jewish nation from the four corners of the earth, the ability to simply open their eyes, and join their brethren to come to the only country where Jews are truly welcome. We will then be able to tell our Mother Rachel to weep no more. Your children have finally and permanently, come home.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for nearly twenty years. He has been teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach, Old Katamon, Jerusalem, for the past twelve years. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles.