9 Cheshvan 5781 / Tuesday, October 27, 2020 | Torah Reading: Lech Lecha
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The Great Decision    

The Great Decision

From the beginning of Jewish history, one of our biggest challenges has been to return to the Land of Israel while times were good in our backyard…


"It is easier to be a Jew in Siberia than in suburbia" (The Lubavitcher Rebbe).


Our forefather Jacob didn't have to move to Israel when he did. In fact, he may not have had to become a returning resident at all. He was one of the richest men on earth. He could have easily become one of the most powerful as well. He could have bought himself a massive estate, with lots of land, and built big houses for every member of his family.


He did something truly remarkable. He left the land of his money for the Land of his forefathers while he was still wealthy.


From the beginning of Jewish history, one of our biggest challenges has been to return to Israel while times were good in our backyard.


The moment our Egyptian slavery ended, we became rich. The day Aaron struck the Nile and all the waters turned to blood, two things happened. The Egyptian servitude came to an immediate halt.  The Egyptians desperately needed water, and the only water that wasn't polluted was the water of Goshen, where the Jewish People lived. We all became tremendously wealthy selling drinkable water to the Egyptians. Overnight, times became good. Eight months later, Hashem told us it was time to take our wealth and move to Israel. 80% of us refused to leave.


After the first exile from our home, we arrived in Babylon brokenhearted and destitute. Very quickly we climbed the social and financial ladder of Babylonian life and became well to do. The exile ended with the king of Persia inviting us to return home and rebuild our Temple. Only 5% accepted. The poorest of the poor were the ones that followed Ezra and Nehemia back.


In 1917 when the Balfour Declaration was made, nobody from Western Europe decided to join the early pioneers to re-settle the Land of Israel. There were lots of professional and financial opportunities for Jews in Europe back then. Even in war life was good. It was only in 1945, when things had tragically changed, did we demand a return.


The Jews of the Soviet Union, Arab Lands, and Ethiopia readily came back, while those in wealthier nations did not share their enthusiasm. If history has been any indicator, it's because their challenge is far greater.


When Jacob fled his brother's wrath he was left with nothing. On the way to Lavan, Esau's son stripped him of all his belongings. He came to Lavan empty-handed, much like we did each time we were forced into exile. Like Jacob, we found ways to prosper in our foreign environment, setting up businesses, buying homes, and producing massive amounts of wealth.


Then the time came to come home.


What makes Jacob so remarkable is that when his time came, he followed through. He returned home while at the top of his wealth.


This is where we have the opportunity to perform a mitzvah on the level of our forefather. We can return amidst the temptation of "high living," and say to Hashem with all our heart that one moment in Israel is more precious than all the delicacies on this physical earth.


r not.


The Israel of today has all the creature comforts of the west. 4G network connections (and among the first in the world to set the infrastructure for 5G), WiFi internet, smart cars, hi-speed trains, malls, spas, hotels, the finest cuisine representing foods from all over the earth, beaches, and more. You name it, we have it over here. Our hi-tech industry is the most advanced on earth. The opportunities for getting a job, opening a business, even operating one in the west from here are rich and plenty. There are thousands of millionaires in Israel, many of them diaspora-born, and self-made (with Hashem's help of course)!


The opportunities here are just as fat, rich, and abundant as anywhere else. You can fully capitalize on them while you learn Hebrew . . . or JavaScript as your next language.

You can make the decision to come here with your wealth, and spend the rest of your life working towards your personal, professional, financial, and spiritual goals, all the while performing the mitzvah of living in the Land of Israel with all your body for every moment you draw breath.


May you be blessed with the same merit as our forefather Jacob by making his journey your own. May we, your brothers and sisters, bask in the blessings from Hashem which you bring to Israel through your determination, heroism, and happiness.

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