There’s no place like home,” said Judy Garland as Dorothy in the 1939 classic film, “The Wizard of Oz,” as she clicked her heels and hoped for the return to the comforts of her own bed and her beloved Auntie Em and Uncle Henry.
Today we call it “homesickness,” and it’s an emotion shared by children and adults alike. What is it about home and family that make it difficult to leave?
Avigdor Miller (Avigdor HaKohen Miller was an American Haredi rabbi, author, and lecturer. He served simultaneously as a communal rabbi, mashgiach ruchani of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, and as a teacher in Beis Yaakov.
Even the most basic foundations of life overwhelm our thoughts. It says in the Gemara (Talmud Sotah 47a) that G-d causes people to love their home place. That’s how it is -your neighborhood finds favor in your eyes.
There are two reasons for that according to Rabbi Miller. First, G-d wants to make people happy so He makes them love their place. No matter what street you live on, that street has charm in your eyes. Even if you see other beautiful places, you come to your own home on your poor little street, and you feel there is nothing like your own home. Home sweet home! Your own home, your own street, finds a special favor in your eyes, because G-d wants to make you happy.
The second reason is that G-d wants to involve your mind with your home. He wants to put this world into your mind so that you will be tested while you are alive. That is why people fall in love with their homes. It enters your heart and you become occupied, confused, and distracted. There is always something to do. We should paint, or make a bigger porch. We could plant roses in the front garden and make a place for the children to play in the back. Paying the rent or the mortgage is also on your mind. You are occupied with your environment.
This is why the book of Breishit gives protagonists their biggest tests. Noah, Avraham, and Yakov have to leave their homes and make new homes.
They have to leave their old lives behind and not mourn for them but face a new world.
Not only is your home on your mind but your profession as well. Everybody has a trade and G-d makes each one like his business (Brachos 43-b)
And most people never come out of their trances in life. They never break free from living lives of distraction in this world until they’re very old and close to death. Only when he’s on the brink of leaving this world, he looks back and says why did I waste so much time at the office? And this was the lesson that Noah and Abraham are to teach us. The distractions are all hevel. It’s all nothing. Nothing built on top of nothing.
But we are to learn it’s all hevel if you are distracted, then it’s a big nothing. If you learn however that we are to transform everything to the service of Hashem, then nothing is hevel anymore. And that is why we say the Shema Yisroel. To think about Hashem at all times. One means that He’s the only thing worth thinking about. At this time of year when we are still focused on the elections, remember G-d is in control and will watch out for the Jewish people and Israel.