Photo Credit: Flash 90
New immigrants from North America arrive on a special " Aliyah Flight" on behalf of Nefesh B'Nefesh organization, at Ben Gurion airport in central Israel.

We are currently in the middle of “The 7 weeks of comfort”, the period after Tisha b’Av where we focus on how to rise from the ashes and rebuild our lives. The talk of death, destruction and tragedy is over, and we have turned our attention to Teshuva, Tefilla and Tzedaka. However, as we enter the world of Elul, allow me to make one final point about the period we just concluded. If all you did during the last 2 months was say Kinot and not shave or listen to music, you missed the point!

There are – literally – thousands of shiurim on “The 3 weeks” and “9 Days”, and I watched/listened to many of them. I heard about turning Galos (exile) into Geula (redemption) by changing our mindset. I saw videos on chessed, guarding our speech and strengthening our Emunah. The problem with these shiurim was that, while they are all important – and are in areas in which we must improve – there’s more we need to do upon conclusion of this difficult time period.

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Let me write the next few words very clearly, so there’s no misunderstanding. The mourning required during Tammuz and Av was because of the exile. That exile, experienced by the Jewish nation over 2,000 years ago was physical as well as spiritual. Therefore, the redemption must be physical – not just spiritual – as well. Stopping Lashon Hara is vital and so is performing more chessed but that will not change anything as long as we do these things in America, England, Canada or Australia. Focusing on simply “changing our mindset to Geula” as one Rabbi taught, or by improving our “Ahavat Yisrael” as another Rav taught is a must – no question! – but, with all due respect, that is not enough to rebuild the 3rd and final Bet Ha’Mikdash.

Do you know what will rebuild it? When the majority of worldwide Jewry live in Eretz Yisrael. As stated previously, the punishment 2,000 years ago was more than spiritual. We were physically expelled from Eretz Yisrael so the “tikkun” (rectification) will be the physical return to the Land! It is true that once there, it will be necessary for the Jews to keep Torah and Mitzvot and work on the spiritual side as well, but right now – at this exact moment in time – the job of Jews living outside is to do whatever it takes to start living inside!

Think about it. How many divrei Torah did you hear during these days about moving to Eretz Yisrael? I assure you that every single shiur was about important Torah concepts, and I don’t understate their worth. We need to work on Jewish unity, honesty in business dealings, giving people the benefit of the doubt, caring for the elderly and so on… yet, if that is all you did, you missed the point. Imagine a king who banished his misbehaving son. Years later, the king finds out that the son is no longer a troublemaker. The young man has straightened himself out, graduated law school, is married with 3 kids and recently became president of the shul! He teaches Daf Yomi, is a member of Hatzola and financially supports the local soup-kitchen. The king is ecstatic! “Baruch HaShem my son has become a real mensch!” His joy is endless, and he is so excited… until he finds out that the young man has no desire to return to the palace. What good are all those improvements if he does not want to return to the king? The king exiled him to teach him a lesson… not to make him forget the kingdom!! Yes, the king loves the fact that his son is keeping mitzvot, teaching Torah and doing acts of chessed but he wants those things done here… in the kingdom… not in a far-away land!

Dearest friends: Elul is here but – please – take one last look at the months we just left and learn the real lesson from them… the lesson of turning physical exile in physical redemption. Baruch HaShem, Tisha b’Av is over and we are off the floor… its time now to start the Geulah and get on the plane.

Am Yisrael Chai!

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Shmuel Sackett is the founder and director of the Am Yisrael Chai Foundation.