Motti Wilhelm

It’s Time to Tell the Truth

Jews gather for prayer, as a sign with the direction of Jerusalem on the wall. 

By Jan Voerman -  Public Domain,
Jews gather for prayer, as a sign with the direction of Jerusalem on the wall. By Jan Voerman - Public Domain,

The question “Why is Israel losing the PR war?” is on everyone’s mind.

Is the MeToo movement unaware that Hamas calls for honor killings?

Do college professors need a lecture on why kidnapping children is immoral?

When a US Congresswoman tweets “From the River to the Sea,” are they suggesting the US take in the 6 million Jews in between?

In a dad’s discussion group I participated in, some blamed the imagery of uniformed soldiers bombing residential neighborhoods. Others said it’s the parallel; the fairer-skinned group will always be seen as the occupier. Some felt the problem is that it’s too complex to fit into 140 characters.

When all explanations fail, the best thing is to state one’s truth. Perhaps it’s time to openly state our truth:

Our ties with Israel are not because of the Holocaust or the UN. Our passion for Israel is not for its tech center or its breathtaking scenery. Our claims to Israel are not because of democracy or human rights.

Israel is the place our people were called upon to create a society based on Torah and Mitzvot. In it the Jewish idea was to come alive and shine forth.

It is the eternal homeland, given by an Eternal Creator to an eternal people to live guided by the eternal Torah

The reason my great-grandmother requested her body be transported to Jerusalem for burial was not because she wanted to be interred in “America of the East”. It was because she wanted to be in the “land of the living”.

Synagogues across Europe were built facing Jerusalem, not because its the capital of the start-up nation, rather because through it all our prayers ascend towards heaven.

As one group participant shared, ‘When at the end of the Seder my grandfather announced, “next year in Jerusalem,” democracy was not on his mind. Living in Afghanistan, he did not even know what it was. He was simply praying to be in a place where the Jew can serve Hashem passionately, openly, and completely.’

The famed medieval scholar Rashi, who lived during the crusades, writes:

‘Should the nations of the world accuse the Jews of being thieves by conquering and possessing the Canaanite lands, the Jews can reply that the entire world belongs to the Holy One, blessed is He, Who created it and gave it to whom He saw fit. He gave it initially to the nations of Canan and decided to then take it and give it to us.’

For many years we have been weary of using this argument. Perhaps it’s time to state our truth and try.

About the Author
Rabbi Motti Wilhelm received his diploma of Talmudic Studies from the Rabbinical College of Australia & New Zealand in 2003 and was ordained as a rabbi by the Rabbinical College of America and Israel’s former chief Rabbi Mordecha Eliyahu in 2004. He was the editor of Kovetz Ohelei Torah, a respected Journal of Talmudic essays. He lectures on Talmudic Law, Medical Ethics and a wide array of Jewish subjects and has led services in the United States, Canada, Africa and Australia. His video blog Rabbi Motti's Minute is highly popular as are his weekly emails. Rabbi Wilhelm and his wife Mimi lead Chabad SW Portland as Shluchim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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