Sunday, October 02, 2005

5765: The Year of Return - Part I

5765 will be remembered most for the expulsion of 10,000 Jews from their homes in Israel at the hands of the government of the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Force. However, there was some very good news that also came out of 5765 which deserves mention:
The Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency (a semi-official body dedicated to settling Jews in Israel) have reported that 23,124 Jews settled in Israel in 5765, as compared to 21,604 in 5764.

Nearly 3,000 Jews (2,928) from North America made their home in the Jewish State in 5765, up from 2,269 last year. Slightly more Jews, 2,975, came from France, which has witnessed an upsurge of anti-Semitism in recent years. That number was significantly higher than last year’s total of 2,389 Jews.

If our goal (and purpose) as Jews is to strive to become close to Hashem, then there is no place more conducive to achieve this goal than Eretz Yisrael. Teshuva (whose root is the Hebrew word for Return) should be defined not merely as repentance, but as an actual call for the Jewish People to return home - to return to the place where we can experience true closeness with Hashem.

"Hashiveinu Hashem Eilecha V'nashuva, chadeish yemeinu kikedem" - "Return to us Hashem, and we shall return to you, restore things to how they once were". Hashem has returned to us - He has given every Jew in the world the chance to come home - it is up to us to make the move.

May 5766 be a year of a true return for the Jewish People, one in which we will be able to witness the fulfillment of the verse: "V'shavu banim l'gvulam" - "And the children (of Israel) will return to their borders (Land of Israel)".

Shanah Tova!


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