Shimon Apisdorf

Dear American Frum Jews: You Just Might Miss It

With this piece, I run the risk of being obnoxious.

Some family members might say, “What else is new?” So, I apologize in advance as I risk it.

Please know, these are heartfelt words.

A Day Like No Other

I’ll never forget it.

Sunday, February 3, 2013.

My son Baruch and I drove from Maryland to New York to catch a flight home to Israel, and that day, the Ravens were in the Super Bowl. We planned to watch the game in the airport, but heaven had other plans. The stadium lights went out leading to our boarding the plane in a state of waiting, wondering, and hoping.

We landed in Rome, took a cab to the Jewish Quarter, sat down at a restaurant, and holding our breath, opened my laptop to check the score. 34-31. The Ravens were Super Bowl champions. But something was missing. We had missed out on the moment we so hoped to experience; the moment when the last seconds tick off the clock, when car horns start honking, when the city breaks out in spontaneous celebration. We missed all that. Don’t get me wrong, we were happy, but we missed that singular in-the-moment joy.

Now the Obnoxious Part

I’m very afraid that my fellow Jews in America will wake up one day to the news that Redemption happened while they were sleeping. That they will miss it, and once you’ve missed it, that’s it, you missed it. If you weren’t there for that uniquely elevated, spiritually game-changing moment, you weren’t there. You see, life in Israel is not like watching the big game live with a house full of family and friends; it’s upper deck, first row, fifty-yard line seats. In fact, it’s far more than that, because here in the Land of Israel, we’re all in the game.

Consider the words of Maimonides:

“Don’t [mistakenly] think that in the time of Moshiach that society will stop functioning in a completely normal fashion, or that nature will change in any way. Rather, the world will continue to function just as it was. Our sages said, ‘The sole distinction between the world as it is, and how it will be in the Messianic Era, is that we will no longer be beholden to foreign nations.’”    (The Laws of Kings 12:1-2)

Passover is upon us, and with it the belief and hope that the final redemption is around the corner, as our sages say, “In Nisan we were redeemed and in Nisan we will be redeemed.” Indeed, we hope and pray that just like all the great exile communities came to an end, the same will happen with the last great exile community in America. Yes, we believe there will be a redemption, like in the time of the Exodus, and a great leader like Moses, but this time there won’t be any plagues, any heavenly baked bread for breakfast, or any miracles at all, just a world that operates as it normally does, though with a dramatically deeper God awareness and spiritual consciousness.

If that’s the case, if indeed the world will continue to function just as it was, then we need to ask ourselves: When the final redemption arrives, just exactly how are the five million Jews in America going to get to Israel? On the wings of giant eagles? Perhaps the Jews of America will fill their synagogues, yeshivas, JCC’s, Bagel shops, and Bais Yaacovs, and everything and everyone will be teleported to Israel. Maybe. Maybe not.

Maybe in the world will continue to function just as it was scenario, people will still need to book flights on EL AL, which, given the size of its fleet, could make for a painfully long delay in joining the celebration in Jerusalem. Or maybe all the other airlines will lend their planes to EL AL to expedite the final ingathering. That might be sufficiently beneath the miraculous threshold to get the job done. Or maybe not.

Two Ingathering’s

The great 13th century scholars, Rabbeinu Bachya (Bereishis 49:1) and the Ramban (Song of Songs, 8:12) both understood that the final ingathering of the exiles would happen in two stages, one before the final redemption, and one after. In the words of the Ramban, “It’s possible that there will be a great deal of time between these two stages of kibbutz galiyos [ingathering of the exiles].”

To my dear friends and family in America, particularly those of you that pray daily for redemption: I know you believe in the return of all Jews to the land of Israel, and I know you fully expect to be part of that return and redemptive process, but, as obnoxious as this may sound, it may not work out the way you are hoping. I’m not saying you will be completely left behind, like eighty percent of the Jews in Egypt were, but it seems quite feasible that if you don’t catch a flight soon, you will have a very long wait at the departure gate while you constantly peruse online posts about the redemption you missed. And with all those houses for sale in your neighborhood, you may have a lot less cash to leave with than you thought. I’ll conclude with this: Just like my son and I missed that magical Superbowl victory moment, you might miss Jewish history’s ultimate night that shines like the day moment.

I truly, truly hope you don’t.

Non-Obnoxious Postscript:

For the week of Passover, I am happy to share with you a free PDF copy my pre-publication manuscript, The Last Exile: The History of Exile, the Anatomy of Redemption, and The Remarkable Times in Which We Are Living. Email requests to A second volume,  October 7th and the Last Exile: The Case and Plan for Large-Scale Aliyah From America is currently in preparation and will be ready for publication by Chanukah.

About the Author
Shimon Apisdorf is the founder of Operation Home Again, the first organization solely devoted to community-based Aliyah. He has also authored ten books that have sold over a quarter million copies and have won two Benjamin Franklin awards. The Apisdorf's made Aliyah in the summer of 2012.