Sunday, February 03, 2008

Where Do You Really Live?

DATELINE: Ma’ale Adumim

When Yosef was languishing in prison in Egypt, he began to interpret dreams. In the process of interpreting a dream for Paroh’s cupbearer, he described himself as a member of the Hebrew people. “For I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews” (Bereishit 40:15)." Because of his willingness to identify himself as a proper resident of Eretz Yisrael, he merited to be buried in Israel.

Moshe, on the other hand, did not protest when the daughters of Yisro referred to him as an Egyptian man (Shemot 2:19) and, as a result, he did not merit burial in Israel.

If we consider the matter further, we realize that Yosef was born in Israel, but Moshe actually was Egyptian by birth. It makes sense that Yosef would identify as an Israeli, but why punish Moshe for not doing so when he had never even been in Israel?

On this distinction, Rav Meir Yechiel of Ostrov teaches, "From this we learn that from the time Eretz Yisrael was promised to Avraham, every Jew must see himself as a citizen of Israel."

As Jews, we ought to see ourselves as citizens of Israel, regardless of where we actually live.

Although I can’t find the exact quote, I once read that, when asked where you are from, it is proper for a Jew living outside Israel to respond, “I am from the Land Of Israel but because of my many sins, I find myself living in galut.”

Yesterday, as we were leaving shul, we were engaged in conversation about how long our visit here will be and when we will come back to stay. A casual comment by neighbor totally changed the way I think.

"Don’t say, 'I live in Baltimore and I hope to make aliyah in X years,’ she suggested. "Rather, say, 'I live in Israel, but I am currently on shlichut in America.'"

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