No matter how far we go from home, either running from who we are or lured and lulled by the fake gods that taunt us, something always drives us home. A family sickness, a funeral, sometimes even something good, but fate brings us home. And who are we when we return to the scene of our prime? Do we at all resemble that soul that our feet took wandering through the dark crevices of exile? Are there any traces of the Source inside us? Drink the bitter water; it shall tell us what we’ve become.
A great nation blessed by G-d Himself, chosen for “monogamy,” has morphed into gross polytheists and selfish polygamists. And now, the waters of truth are gathering around our door, the torrents are not far behind. “Deliver me, O God, for the waters have reached until my soul! I have sunk in muddy depths without foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the current sweeps me away.’ (Psalms 69:2-3) Yes, my beloved Jews the waters are rising, our faltering footholds are becoming strangleholds, and as always and as promised we are being forced back home.
We ran from who we are and where we belong because we forsook our G-d and got seduced by a world of lies. But the world isn’t lying anymore. The old masks have dropped, albeit now we wear new ones. Anti-Semitism, the one virus for which no vaccine will ever be found, is flooding reasonableness, muddying our waters, building up pressure; and the dam will surely fall. It’s spreading, it’s infiltrating and all our materialistic and institutional strongholds are exposed for what they are, vapors and illusions. When things get hot those illusory safeguards leave us cold. We’ve walked the streets of the Diaspora, we ate among strangers and dressed like them, pursued their gods and cheated, lied, stole and slandered for their sake. In our high-tech modern world, we had no place for an ancient desert G-d. Luxury labels in our collars, brand items on our wrists. Now the looters and rioters sport the very same. Are we now equals? These fake gods, Chanel, Gucci, BMW--are they kingmakers? For then now all men are kings. No, we were an anointed nation by holy oil, a nation of priests, especially chosen to be the light. But we muffled our ears to our own Divine calling and sought our strength from make-believe muses and mellifluous memes. All in vain. “Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is ONE.”
The streets of the world again are beating with the thumps of protest and hatred. “You are a Jew.” If you forgot, they will remind you. Our Jewish institutions are vandalized, our holy objects desecrated--why should they care if we don’t? Did we scream, fast and cry when we heard our holy Torah was thrown on the floor and profaned like we would if our Mercedes were scratched or our dog hurt his paw. Our people attacked, our race forever blamed...the threats are getting louder. It’s time to go home. We have one G-d, one Torah, and one home: Israel. The burden of “never again” falls not to the nations of the world, but upon us. We learned from the smoke and ashes that when we hem and haw and falter, tomorrow is too late. Some adhere to the calling, others are stirred by the shouting. And so I now remember the words of Israel’s former chief rabbi, Meir Lau who evokes the two images of the Prophet Isaiah regarding the return of the exiles to Israel: the cloud and the dove. "Who are these that fly like a cloud and like doves to their nests?" (Isaiah 60:8). The cloud is moved by the external force of the wind; the dove has an internal homing sense that returns it to its land. No matter what propels us, it’s time to go home. It’s time to return not just to the land that G-d gave us but also to Him and His Torah. For not even in the Promised Land nor with a million angelic voices singing Hatikva will we find hope, promise and peace if we dismiss the very land deed which bequeathed it to us, i.e., the Torah.
“...And you will return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you this day you and your children,
then, the Lord, your God, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the Lord, your God, had dispersed you.
” (Deuteronomy 30:1-4)
As Rabbi Avraham Tanis says: “Man believes in himself and questions the Almighty, when really, we should believe in the Almighty and question ourselves.” Friends we’ve had our run, a long run of arrogance and rebellion; I’m tired of running. It’s time to go home.
1. If a woman was suspected of adultery, she was brought before the Kohen and made to drink water wherein a scroll with G-d’s name written forward and in reverse was dissolved. The results of drinking would reveal her innocence or guilt. (Bamidbar 5:11-31)