Strangers at Home
This morning, I happened to find myself in the lobby of the Inbal Hotel, located in the heart of Jerusalem, which happened to be filled to capacity with primarily American Jews who were visiting Israel for the Succot holiday.
Today was an interesting day here in Israel, as for those of us who live in Israel, it was Isru Chag (the day after the holiday), while for Jews who do not live in Israel (whether they happened to be in Israel or anywhere else in the world) today was Simchat Torah - since Jews who don't live in Israel must keep Yom Tov Sheini shel Goluyot - the 2nd day of Yom Tov for those who reside in the Exile - [perhaps as a reminder that they are not celebrating the holidays where they are meant to be observed).
I wondered to myself if any of these Jews, found themselves feeling a little bit uncomfortable during their holiday prayers this morning. After all, among the prayers that were recited were:
And You gave us, Hashem our God, with love, appointed festivals for gladness, Festivals and times for joy, this day of the Shmini Atzeret Festival, the time of our gladness, a holy convocation, a memorial of the Exodus from Egypt.
If I'm not mistaken, the appointed day for Shmini Atzeret was yesterday...
But because of our sins we have been exiled from our land and sent far from our soil... Our Father, Our King,... Draw our scattered ones near, from among the nations, and bring in our dispersions from the ends of the earth. Bring us to Zion, Your City, in glad song, and to Jerusalem, home of Your Sanctuary, in eternal joy...
I can't help but feel a bit of sadness towards these Jews, who, although they are celebrating the holiday right in the heart of Jerusalem, are unable to open their eyes and recognize that the Jewish people have come home, and that all of their prayers are telling them that they should do likewise...
Among the many things that the Jewish people must pray for these days, let us find room in our prayers for our fellow Jews still living in Exile, that they should find the strength to open their eyes and their hearts, and may Hashem bless them with the understanding to recognize that all of their prayers can be answered in an instant, if only they truly want it.
Next Year in Jerusalem (on a permanent basis, for the entire Jewish People)!