Return home

So, Justin Bieber was in Tel Aviv last week and attracted some 50 000 fans to his concert. Go a little further north this weekend, to Miron and you will experience an event anticipating nearly 500 000 participants for the Lag B’Omer celebrations there.
by Rabbi Ari Kievman, Sandton Central Shul | May 11, 2017

This week we read the portion of Emor, which means to teach and includes instructions for the priests who were to serve in our Holy Temples, later to be established in Jerusalem. The portion continues with observances for all the Jewish festivals of the year.

Although we observe these holidays to the fullest extent here in the Diaspora, their ideal fulfilment, and indeed the practice of all mitzvot, is actually in our Holy Land, preferably in the Holy Temple. In fact, did you know that most mitzvot  are actually only relevant in the Land of Israel?

Although most Jews had only dreamed of Israel for the past 1 947 years since the Second Temple’s destruction, none have lost their connection. For the last 3 000 years we Jews have had an uninterrupted presence there. The majority, who were exiled from its borders, forever breathed the Land, spoke of it, studied its ancient laws and offered sacrifices there both literally and figuratively. 

Three times a day we pray toward Israel. In each of our prayers, during bentching, and at every religious milestone we mention the Land. At our happiest and even our saddest occasions, we invoke Jerusalem. At the end of each Pesach seder and Yom Kippur we declare “Next year in Jerusalem!”

In next week’s portion, the Torah foretells that eventually when we will be exiled as a result of our sins, its earth will remain barren.

For the last two millennia, no nation who inhabited Israel's topography could do anything there successfully. Her soil wouldn’t produce, her streams didn’t flow. Israel remained for them a place of marshes, swamps, disease, and desolation.

Finally, the Jews return and now she is flourishing. Fertile fields, lush orchards, productive farms, robust vineyards, vibrant cities, flourishing villages, a powerful economy, major inventions, tremendous centres of learning and study. Why is that?

It is G-d’s chosen land, which He gave to His chosen people, as an inheritance for eternity. This is stated in the Bible - embraced by billions of Christians and Muslims as the word of G-d - hundreds of times. 

We are G-d’s people and Eretz Yisrael is G-d’s land that He gave to us. The Torah is our “title deed” to the Land as delineated in so much detail of the covenant between G-d and our illustrious ancestors.   

And when we get it, unapologetically and absolutely, the world will get it, too. No matter how many UNESCO resolutions, our true right to the Land of Israel does not change.

Let us support Israel; let us defend and strengthen her in every possible way. Let us go there with our families and communities to be infused by her majestic holiness. It is the birthright of every Jew to spend time there, and to connect not just to the food and culture, but also to Eretz Yisrael's innate spirituality and holiness.

Fifty years ago, Jewish people everywhere were on edge. Tiny Israel was at war with its neighbours and a miracle was needed fast. Thankfully, it happened. In just six days the IDF managed to defeat their enemies and make significant advances on many fronts. For the first time in 19 years, we were able to pray at the Kotel. Even military strategists called Israel’s stunning victory a miracle. 

Now we can flourish in our homeland, whether for a Justin Bieber concert or a more meaningful Lag B’Omer celebration. We are home and can anytime return there.

This week, in the spirit of Emor, we are launching a new course called “Survival of a Nation” in which we will journey through the history of our homeland and explore its relevance to every Jew today.  I invite you to join me on this fascinating journey of our story. For more information contact Chabad House or go to  

1 Comment

  1. 1 Choni 15 May
    After reading this brilliant analysis, how can any Jewish leader - and there are many- still insist that Israel is still in exile.


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