Wednesday, April 18, 2018

where home is

Ki tavo'u el Eretz Canann asher ani nosein lachem l'nachala v'nasati nega tzara'as b'veis eretz achuzaschem (14:35).  A strange promise!  Once we finally merit seeing Hashem's promise to give us the land fulfilled, the Torah tells us that our homes will be plagued with leprosy.  Why?  What did we do to deserve that?  (see Rashi)

Rav Teichtel in his classic Eim haBanim Smeicha interprets the pasuk derech derush as saying that if after G-d is "nosein lachem nachala" and gives us a homeland, we still think of the 5 Towns, Boro Park, Englewood, Teaneck, or even Lakewood, NJ as "home," then "v'nasati nega tzara'as," I will bring tzara'as and tzaros to "beis achuzaschem," that place in galus you still mistakingly think of as home.  Sometimes unfortunately we need a wakeup call, a little suffering and discomfort, to appreciate and recognize where home is.

"But what does Jeremy Corbyn or the murder of a Jewish grandmother in France or the other sorrows we see in Europe have to do with me?" asks your typical upper middle class American Jew while eating his dinner at some ridiculously expensive glatt kosher restaurant on some typical Main Street in the suburbs, or if he is more spiritually inclined, while mulling over his Artscroll translated daf yomi in the local shul.  The tzaros of galus are over there, but here, in the good ol' USA?  Gashmiyus, ruchniyus -- what don't I have here in the comfort of my typical American life?  

V'nasati nega tzara'as b'veis eretz achuzaschem... Maybe it's time to learn the lesson from what's happening over there before it gets here, because get here it will. 

In 1914 Rabbi Aba Citron, Rav of Petach Tikvah, son in law of the Rogatchover Gaon, was told by the Ottomans that they were expelling him from the country because he was not a citizen, as he had not been born there (see here).  His only hope was to take an oath to the contrary.  Shevuas sheker!  He turned for advice to his father-in-law, who sent, k'darko, just a mareh makom: Kesubos 75.  The gemara there darshens the pasuk in Tehillim (87:5) "U'l'Tzion yei'amar ish ish yulad bah..." to refer to "echad ha'nolad bah v'echad ha'mitzapeh li'rosah."  It's not a shevuas sheker.  When it comes to Tzion, to Eretz Yisrael, the person who pines to be there can just as much call himself "yulad bah" as any sabra.

Let's be real: barring a miracle, all of American and world Jewry are not going to pack their bags and get on Nefesh b'Nefesh flights tomorrow.  Ha'levai we all could -- but it's not going to happen.

When it comes to "nolad bah," we are lucky if our grandchildren will have that zechus.

But when it comes to "mitzapim li'rosa," oy to us if we don't at least dream of getting on that flight.

Oy to us if this is our "eretz achuzaschem."  We shouldn't c"v need a nega tza'aras to get us to think otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. I saw the same story about "echad ha'mitzapeh li'rosah" with the one answering the question being Reb Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld ztz"l.