11 Kislev 5781 / Friday, November 27, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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HomeIsrael and SocietyCurrent AffairsTaking Care of Our Own
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Taking Care of Our Own    

Taking Care of Our Own

We Jews have raised money for refugees in New Orleans, Darfur, and Haiti; yet, we’ll all have to answer why we fail to take care of our own homeless refugees…


My wife and I are looking for a permanent place to live. We love the water. There is something very soothing about the sea. It reduces stress. Stress is the cause behind so many human ailments. Living by the water can expand your life by so many years, decades even. We are looking for a religious community that focuses on neighborhood and togetherness.
We have looked around. Finding observant communities by the water is hard, but not impossible. We like the idea of living in Judea and Shomron. We live in Gush Etzion and are very proud to be supporting the development of our eternal homeland.
Then it hit me. I found the perfect place for us. It meets all of our requirements:
Gush Katif.
Any of the communities in the Gaza Strip would have been perfect for us. We could live in a religious environment, the people would be close knit, our children would have a top notch Torah education, and we would be right next to the Mediterranean Sea. The prices would be reasonable, the government would help us out, AND, we would be ninety minutes from Jerusalem. What more could we ask for?
What a pity.
This is not to deflect from the plight of the real Gaza refugees. What they went through, what they are going through, is horrifying. That these families have not been resettled and taken care of is a blemish on the soul of all Israel. That we Jews have raised money for refugees in New Orleans, Darfur, and Haiti, yet fail to take care of our own is something we will ALL have to pay for in this world, and the Next.
Hashem WILL ask me, and possibly others, why I had the resources to donate to the homeless man on the street, but didn't have a dime to give to my homeless brethren still bunking in caravans six years later.
The fact that I don’t have a permanent home IS MY PUNISHMENT. The fact that the same can be said for millions of young Israelis IS OUR PUNISHMENT.
Today there is a severe housing crisis not only for the former residents of Gaza, but for the former residents of Tel Aviv, Hod HaSharon, and Jerusalem. The housing crisis is hitting all of Israel.
How many of us protested enough while the “disengagement army” was being formed? How many of us prayed every day for the redemption of the Jews of Gaza as it was happening? How many of us fought the governments of Israel and the United States over this human rights atrocity?
After it was over, how many of us continued to pray for the well-being of the children of Gaza? How many of us demanded that the government do everything in its power to take care of these refugees? How many of us opened our homes to them? Provided money for them? How many of us today, pray for the welfare of the refugees that they find permanent housing?
Measure for measure G-d is paying all of us back!
G-d is executing His True justice on all of us. From the writer lamenting on how he would have loved to move his family to communities that no longer exist, to the settlers who complain that not enough building is going on in their towns . . . . .
. . . . to the protestors, the hundreds of thousands of youth all over the country who are living in tents, crying out over their own refugee status, without homes of their own for years on end.
The Torah teaches us that our problems are not due to others, they stem from something we ourselves are not doing right. Punishment is Hashem tapping us on the shoulder to inform us that we need to change something.
What if the continued injustice to the people of Gaza is the real cause of the inability of the country to build adequate housing?
It doesn’t make any sense. We are the strongest economy on the planet right now! We are drilling $2 trillion of natural resources out of the ground. How can an economy without a debt problem, and overflowing with money not be able to put its own citizens in homes?
It’s not natural. If it is not natural, it is an obvious sign that it comes from Above – we have to take note.
The best way to provide housing for ourselves is to provide housing for our brothers. We learn that one of the most effective ways to petition Hashem to answer our own prayers for something is to pray for the same thing for someone else. Perhaps the first communities we should demand the government put in homes are those from the destroyed families of Gush Katif?
G-d Willing we will return. The last expulsion of Jewish Gaza wasn’t the only one. It has happened many times before in the past. We have always returned. We will again – G-d guarantees it.
Maybe my family will be able to buy a house there. After the past residents have returned of course.
* * *
Dovber Halevi is the author of the financial book, How to Survive the Coming Decade of Anxiety. He writes for Breslev Israel and The Middle East Magazine. He lives with his wife and two children in Eretz Yisrael.

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