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A Place to Call Home
One of the unfortunate effects of our long exile is the ubiquitous phenomenon of the "wandering Jew." Ever since the Holy Temple was destroyed and we were driven from our land, we have been a homeless people, without solid ground to call our own. From period to period, our domain changes, according to the tides of history. We started our wanderings in Babylonia (modern day Iraq), then Persia, North Africa and Rome. Over the course of the generations we settled Southern, Western and Eastern Europe and deep into Asia. Today there are Jews on all inhabited continents, from Australia to Alaska and the furthest reaches of Africa.

Over the last sixty years, at least, the nations of the world have publicly recognized that Israel is the Jewish homeland, and five million or so Jews have the merit to settle there. Still, the lion's share of our people still lives in the Diaspora.  According to official census statistics, only a third of the worldwide Jewish population lives in Israel; according to some experts, the true proportion is even less than that. So we cannot say that the wandering Jew concept has been put to rest at last.

The question is, why? Why are Jews still scattered throughout the planet, even though the possibility exists for them to come home? Why did G-d choose to spread us out this way?

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The truth is that the wandering Jew phenomenon did not begin with the destruction of the Temple. Even before we were established as a nation, back when "the Hebrews" numbered just a few individuals, the walking stick was already in hand. We read in the beginning of this week's Torah portion: "G-d said to Avram, go forth from your land, your birthplace and the house of your father, to the land that I will show you." Abraham, the first Jew, wandered with his wife and family to the land of Canaan, and from there to Egypt and the land of the Philistines.

Chassidic teachings explain that ever since the world was created, sparks of holiness have been scattered and embedded in various parts of the world. They are awaiting their release to return to their spiritual source. The only way to redeem these sparks is through reaching the place and performing a mitzvah in that vicinity. When a Jew arrives at a place and studies Torah or fulfills a mitzvah there, the spark is elevated. The process of gathering the sparks began with Abraham, and has continued over the course of the generations, with all the wanderings of his descendents, the Jewish people.

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Today, the Jewish people is at a crossroads. The Lubavitcher Rebbe has said that we have completed the process of "gathering the sparks." Now there is no reason for our continued wandering. We are awaiting the final ingathering of the exiles, when all Jews will be brought home with Moshiach.

The final Redemption will serve as a victory party for the Jewish people, after our many generations of wandering, from our forefather Abraham to this day. All Jews of the previous generations will be resurrected and will join us in Israel with Moshiach, may he be revealed immediately.

 

 


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