Go to Israel – for you and for all of us

This is a guest post by Akiva

This week’s Torah reading, “Lech Lecha” recounts how G-d told our father Abraham to move to Israel, and various difficulties Abraham faced while settling there.  The first two words “Lech-Lecha” literally mean “Go to yourself” or “Go for yourself”.  Why does the Torah teach us that going to Israel is going to yourself?

Rashi (the medieval commentator) explains that our rabbis teach that G-d told Abraham that the move would be for his own pleasure and benefit, and there he would have children and become a great nation.

We go to the trouble of uprooting ourselves and moving for various reasons: to attend university, a new job, be near family, retire in nicer weather.  Whatever the instant reason, the underlying intention when we move is to fulfill our purpose, so it gives us pleasure despite the hardship of moving.

G-d told Abraham that moving to Israel was for his pleasure and good because there he could fulfill his purpose of becoming a great nation.  We know that Israel is the home of the Jewish people.  Without a home, you cannot build a family, let alone a nation.  The opportunity to fulfill your true purpose is the greatest pleasure.

For 2000 years most Jews were homeless, and only in the past 120 years has G-d allowed us to begin to come home and rebuild our nation.  However, many of us, both inside Israel and abroad, don’t really appreciate what this means to the Jewish people.  We are coming home, and this is not merely a move to get an education, a job, or to retire on the Med – this is to fulfill our ultimate purpose – to be a great nation.  To be a light unto all the nations.  This is the purpose of the Jewish people and the purpose of the world.  And working towards this purpose is our pleasure.

Going to Israel and building and defending our nation is so vital because it is our true pleasure and our real purpose.  Even if we are not literally moving right now, we can engage in this purpose from where we are.  The Ramban (Nachmanides) teaches that a person truly exists where his or her thoughts are.  By thinking about Israel and the Jewish people, becoming informed about the issues facing Israel, and speaking out to educate people and defend Israel, you are helping to achieve our purpose.  And, as the Torah teaches us, this is our pleasure.

Shabbat Shalom!

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