Kenneth Cohen

The Galut

Throughout the Mussaf prayers, we have the phrase, ״Because of our sins, we were exiled from our land”. This simple phrase is meant to remind us that the presence of Jews outside of Israel was a punishment or a curse. It was clearly intended that all of our people be living in the Land. “Galut”, or the exile, is a punishment and it places G-d’s chosen people in an unnatural habitat.

Most Jews are unaware of this concept. However, if one digs deeply into his spiritual essence, he may find that there is a yearning towards connecting to Israel. This might explain why people get so excited when making their first visit to the land of our forefathers.

It is also interesting to note that in Israel, Ashkenazi Cohanim do the Priestly blessing 450 times a year while those living in Galut only do it ten times. The Rabbis’ reason for this is that one who lives outside of Israel lives without joy. Only during the holidays, is adequate joy felt to warrant the Priestly blessing. It is based on an analysis of a verse in Proverbs that says that only one who is in high spirits should bless.

One of our requests for the holidays is that all Jews from all parts of the world shall gather together in Jerusalem as of old.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at