One of the most difficult trials that our forefather Abraham underwent was to leave his birthplace and family and embark on a journey to what today we know as Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. I have always wondered why this directive by G-d was such an arduous trial for Abraham. It is indeed considered by our Sages as one of the ten tests that Abraham endured during his lifetime.
When G-d charges Abraham to leave his home, He promises that if he accomplishes this task, he will become a great nation and will be blessed and his name will be known throughout the world. If G-d promised Abraham all these rewards, why was this test so challenging? After all, Almighty G-d, the source of all blessings, is guaranteeing him that he will be successful! That would seem to make this trial easier – certainly not difficult enough to be included as one of Abraham’s defining tests. Yet all our Sages agree that this was a difficult trial for him to undergo. Why?
I have always believed that the guarantee that G-d presented to Abraham was never said to him directly. Instead, G-d was stating, without Abraham’s knowledge, that if Abraham followed this directive, he would be rewarded with countless blessings.
This type of situation, in which G-d says what will happen in the future without the knowledge of the person with whom G-d is speaking, occurs in other places in the Torah. For example, when Joseph approached his brothers, the Torah states that they all conspired against him to kill him. The Torah then adds the words, “V’nereh mah yehiyu chalomotav,” And we will see what will happen with his dreams. Rashi states that these are the words of Almighty G-d, as if to say, “We will see who will be successful at the end – you or Joseph.”
The same could apply to the promise that was given to Abraham. The reward that was guaranteed to him was conveyed by Almighty G-d, but Abraham did not hear it – Almighty G-d was actually talking to Himself. Thus, with this explanation, we can appreciate the seriousness of the challenge that Abraham was asked to carry out by G-d.
Going to Israel and living there should always be the dream of every Jew. Countless rabbis and educators have written essays and books on the importance of living in Israel. Living in the Diaspora is like watching a football game, and Diaspora Jews are like the fans in the stands, cheering their teams as they play. They can cheer and support, but the people who are shaping Jewish history are the ones on the field, playing the game. These are the Jews who are living in Israel.
An obvious question arises with regard to our leaders living in the Diaspora: If it is so important to live in Israel, then why haven’t they moved there yet? Isn’t it a little hypocritical? On one hand, they speak about the importance and obligation of all Jews to live in Israel, yet on the other hand they are still living in the Diaspora themselves. This question should indeed bother them and keep them awake at night. How do they answer their communities? If they can “talk the talk,” then they need to “walk the walk.”
As we look around at what is happening in our world, it’s clear that it is time to “walk the walk,” to make the move now before it becomes too late. Yes, it’s challenging. But the handwriting is on the wall.
Come home to the land that Almighty G-d has bequeathed to us. Join us in being part of the greatest miracle of our time. Come home to Eretz Yisrael!