The Galut Tragedy

The Galut is a curse. It is a punishment. It is proof that the holy land of Israel does not tolerate sinners. It is a fulfillment of the warning that if you do not keep the mitzvot, “the Land will vomit you out.”

The disconnection between the Jew and his land, is an expression of spiritual pain. The Jewish soul yearns for this connection, just as a baby yearns for his mother’s nourishment and love.

One cannot serve Hashem on a very high level, when he is detached from the source of his spirituality.
Only in Israel is one able to feel the Shechina, the Divine Presence. And only in Israel, is a Jew truly in his home. In the Galut, he is a guest. And history has taught us that he is usually an unwanted guest.

We are close to the commemoration of the destruction of our two Temples on the ninth of Av. Throughout our exile, Jews understood why they were mourning and what this destruction meant for our people. Sadly, in today’s world of affluence and self indulgence, the significance of Tisha B’Av, is being grossly overlooked.

On the one hand, Jews are free to practice their religion anywhere in the world. And Jews are free to come to live in Israel, without obstacles. But today’s tragedy is that the majority of the Jewish people in Galut, choose not to take advantage of these privileges that our ancestors never had.

The assimilation and intermarriage rates of Jews in the Diaspora, is nothing less than a spiritual holocaust. But the smugness and complacency of comfortable Jews who should know better, is also a tragedy.

We waited for a homeland for nearly two thousand years. Now that we have a beautiful, thriving country, that is the envy of the world, the knowledgeable, learned Jews have turned their backs on this incredible, Divine gift. Perhaps this reality is the more painful one.

This Tisha B’Av when we mourn for the destruction of our holy Temples, we should also mourn for the ignorant and complacent Jews. We should pray that G-d should open their eyes that they have the courage to do what is “right in the eyes of G-d.”

The Rabbis tell us that he who mourns for the destruction of Jerusalem, will merit to see it rebuilt. May the third Temple in Jerusalem be speedily rebuilt in our times.

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