FRIDAY, April 20th

Today we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. The Jewish people for 2000 years have been exiled from our land, cast out from our own land, like the metzora, of whom we read in this week’s parsha, who was banished from Israelite encampment on account of their divinely inflicted skin condition that came about as punishment for lashon hara, malicious gossip.

Just as God in His mercy, ordained a process and a means for returning the outcast metzora into the camp, so, too, He has in living memory allowed our people to return to our land. This is a miracle for which we offer thanks and praise, singing Hallel each year on the anniversary of Israel’s national rebirth.

But reintegration is a process; even after reentering the camp, the returning metzora dwells outside their tent for a week before they can move back into their home. In many ways, our national homecoming is not complete. The temple has not been rebuilt, Jews are still not even allowed to worship on the Temple Mount. We are still plagued by internal conflicts between Ashkenazim and Sepharadim, between religious and secular, between right and left, to say nothing of our conflict with our Arab neighbors. In many ways we are still, like the metzora, brought back into the camp, but still not yet fully home. Perhaps all the conflicts that keep us outside will be resolved when Mashiach comes. I personally suspect the Mashiach will not come until we find a way to address these conflicts ourselves.

If that’s true, then each of us has the power to hasten that day by building bridges among various Jewish communities and factions, and between our family and the larger family of nations. Ever step each of us takes towards greater achdus, greater unity, is a step towards the day when Israel, the Jewish people fully return home.

Rabbi Garth Silberstein