Off By a Few Thousand Years

Friday, 31 May, 2024 - 8:41 am

The path to peace is elusive. The path to peace is around the corner. The path to peace depends on a two-state solution. The path to peace depends on occupying Gaza. The path to peace depends on a one-state solution. The path to peace depends on Oslo. The path to peace depends on disengagement. The path to peace depends on the IDF. The path to peace depends on getting rid of Netanyahu. The path to peace depends on America.


I could go on forever. But, my head is already spinning.

So, how should a Jew think?

Let’s not get distracted with questions of whether Israel should compromise this or that for peace.  At the end of the day, all of these ideas are utilizing a certain time period as the premise for a Jewish presence in the Middle East.

To me, that is simply offensive and ignores historical facts.  Yes, I am aware of the ‘realities on the ground’ and the implications they have for Israel surviving and thriving in a new world, and a post-October 7 world. I don’t have my head in the sand.  But it now seems that some others do.

I am not ready to pronounce people friend or foe of Israel.  That’s not my point. Rather, my question is: How should we Jews view the current situation?  Politicians will remain politicians. They may encourage what they believe is expedient for themselves or for their world outlook.  But that should not dictate or influence how we Jews view our connection to the Land of Israel.

Way before there was a United States of America and long before Europe was settled, Jews inhabited the Holy Land.  Millennia before Herzl dreamed of reestablishing the Jewish homeland and many centuries prior to Ben Gurion declaring the modern state of Israel – Jews have lived and died in our cherished land. Way before Netanyahu served his first term as Prime Minister, King David ruled the land – and purchased the Temple Mount!

Almost two millennia before the Common Era, our Patriarchs and Matriarchs were buried in the land of Israel.  The graves of Jewish sages and simpletons can be found from Tiberias to Jerusalem.  Ruins of synagogues ranging in age from 200 to 2000 years old fill the sacred soil.

It’s high time we stop focusing on 1948, 1967, 2023 – or any other modern year – as a starting point. The Arabs sure don’t stake their claim based on those dates. Just listen to your local protesters.

A political agreement may be part of the solution.  But what is a homeland worth if it has no soul, no history, no direction?

For true peace to endure, the Jewish people, for one, must remember that this is our land and has been for thousands of years.

We taught the world about G-d. We taught the world about ethics. We taught the world about survival.

And, yet, we have lost our way when it comes to our homeland. We have forgotten to be teachers.

If we stand proud as Jews, with a historic and spiritual – not merely political or military – connection to the land, we stand a chance that others will respect our roots as well.

Let us look no further than this week’s Torah portion of Bechukotai, in which G-d promises that if we follow in His holy ways, "I will grant peace in the Land, and you will lie down with no one to frighten you."


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