Who are You? What are You?
This Shabbat, we will read Parshat Va’etchanan, where we find ourselves confronted by a burning question. ‘Who are you? What are you?
Moshe asks G-d to let him enter Eretz Yisrael. To no avail, as G-d denies Moshe his heart’s desire, not even allowing him to be buried there.
Why? after all that Moshe had given of himself to bring his fellow Jews to the Promised Land. How can this be?
The answer lies in the Midrash (Devarim Rabba 2:8). We learn there that “G-d told Moshe, ‘Whoever acknowledges his homeland is buried in his homeland. Whoever does not acknowledge his homeland is not buried in his homeland.’ The Midrash goes on to say that when Moshe met the daughters of Yitro, they said to their father, ‘An Egyptian man saved us from the shepherds (Exodus 2:19); Moshe failed to correct them and remained silent. Therefore he was not buried in his homeland.”
Moshe’s dilemma was not in his refusal to correct them but rather because he had become assimilated in considering Egypt his home.
A subtle difference but a difference non the less. It is incumbent upon every Jew to acknowledge that Israel is his homeland and that no other country can replace Eretz Yisrael.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of today’s Jews cling to exile so persistently and believe England, Australia, France, and the United States is their homeland. After 2,000 years of exile, they chose to be separated from the Jewish State. They refuse to leave. They are attached to exile both in body and spirit and see themselves as Englishman, Americans and so on.
Where are our leaders? In Eretz Yisrael and the diaspora. Where is their deep-seated concern for their fellow Jew? So often, we find these leaders placing their interests above the nations. They are concerned with maintaining their power and status instead of implementing policies that best serve the People.
Fortunately, there are exceptions to the rule. One of those exceptions is Otzma Yehudit’s leader Itamar Ben Gvir, who acknowledges his homeland Israel in every political and private gesture. He is a proud Jew who does not put personal advancement over the national good.
Itamar Ben Gvir is an authentic Jewish leader who understands the necessity for the Jewish people to be freed from the disease of assimilation here in Israel and the diaspora. He is attempting to take the Jews out of exile and second to take the exile out of the Jews.
Like the message in this week’s Parshat, Ben Gvir would have us stop denying who we truly are and proclaim to all the world we are Jews, and our home is Eretz Yisrael.