In yesterday’s edition of YISRAEL HAYOM, opinion writer Dror Eydar wrote a lengthy article in which he stated “there is no future in exile. Jews come home. Immigrate to Israel”. Of course, his article was directed at the Jews who prefer to remain in the Diaspora, most of whom could not read his Hebrew message.
He praises Jewish life in Israel while forgetting that, in spite of assimilation and intermarriage, Judaism flourishes in most of the countries in which Jews have lived for five centuries, England, the United States, Canada and Australia, the primarily English-speaking Jews, as an example.
Dror needs to take a quick lesson in the history of the Jewish people. When Cyrus of Persia permitted Jews in Babylonian exile to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple, less than 20 percent of the Babylonian Jews returned to Israel under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemia.
The remaining 80 percent of the Jews preferred to continue living in Babylonia where they thrived and flourished.
Dror neglects to remember that the Jewish religion as known and practiced today was born in the Babylonian exile. The greatest teachers, scholars and rabbis lived in Babylon. And while there is a Jerusalem Talmud, the official Talmud of the Jews across the world is the Talmud that was written in Babylonia.
In that area of the world Jews lived in harmony with non-Jews and practiced the Jewish religion devoutly.
That changed in the 20th century, particularly after the independence of the State of Israel which brought terror and destruction to the Jewish communities in Babylon.
Orthodox Jews living outside of Israel generally make up the largest number of olim. There are basically few problems for them to re-adjust their lives and habits.
Not so for a majority of liberal Jews who, under Israeli law, practices and discrimination, would be absolutely deprived of religious freedom to observe their non-Orthodox way of life.
Marriage, birth, divorce, death and burial, conversion are all held in the tightly clenched fists of 16th century rabbis who refuse to be a part of the Enlightenment.
Why then, should these Jews (who do not ever consider that they are living in a fantasy exile) consider Aliyah…immigration to Israel, a country which they may love but whose religious theocracy they despise?
Some of the greatest rabbinical scholars live in the diaspora. The Vilna Gaon may have encouraged his pupils to move to Eretz Yisrael but he himself preferred the “exile” of Lithuania.
Chabad’s “melech ha moshiach,” the world renowned and deeply beloved Lubavitch Rebbe. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, z”tzl, never once visited Israel.
I had a friend, a young American Conservative rabbi, who wanted to make aliyah. He met with the rebbe to seek his advice. And the great rebbe advised him to remain in America where he could do more good for Jews than he could in Israel.
With all due respect to Dror Eydar’s opinion piece, he fails to understand the mind-set of Diaspora Jews.
The problem will never be resolved until “teku”, the arrival of the Prophet Elijah of Tishbi.
And with all the wine which he consumed on Pesach, his arrival will be a long time in coming.