Torah Tidbits

20 August 2014 / 24 Av 5774
Issue 1036
Shabbat Parshat Ki Tisa
February 28, 2013

Chizuk and Idud

CHIZUK and IDUD for Olim not yet Olim respectively

This week’s Parsha opens with the command to conduct a census of the people of Israel. Each and every individual is to contribute half a shekel to the building of the Mishkan. In the joint effort to achieve the national goal, all are required to equally share in the shouldering of the burden. (Possible ramifications to current events are left to the readers’ imagination.)
This Biblical census brings to mind the interesting findings of a much more recent census conducted in 2012. This census revealed that for the first time in two thousand years more Jews live in the land of Israel than in any other single country. The Israeli Jewish population of close to six million, comprises forty three percent of world Jewry, seconded only by American Jewry.
If current trends continue, a majority of world Jewry will reside in Medinat Yisrael sometime in the next 20-30 years. This statistic is not merely of academic interest. When the majority of world Jewry resides in Israel the collection of individuals is transformed into an assembly bearing the full- fledged responsibilities of a TZIBUR. This has clearly defined halakhic ramifications as well. The Talmud (Ketuvot 25a) teaches us - in the context of the Laws of Challa - that when the Torah says: “When you come to the Land” (Bamidbar 15:17-18), the commandment refers to a situation wherein we ALL come home. The law is in force MiD’oraita only when the majority of Jews reside in the holy land.
By making Aliya today, we not only contribute our own modest half-shekel to the rebuilding of this TZIBUR, we immediately become card-carrying members of an additional elite club. In discussing the sacrifice which is brought in the event that the Sanhedrin issued a mistaken ruling acted upon by the full Kahal, or community, the Talmud (Horayot 3a), asks: “Who is this community?” The Talmud answers - Those residing in Eretz Yisrael are considered a community - a Kahal. To reside in Israel is to be automatically “counted” as part of this unique “Minyan”.
In his discussion of Kiddush HaChodesh, Rambam (in Sefer HaMitzvot 153) details the critical need for a Jewish community to exist in Eretz Yisrael. The continuity of Jewish spiritual life, he writes, literally depends on it: ‘If G-d forbid, Jews would disappear from Israel… those in the Diaspora would be unable to celebrate new months, because it is the community in Israel that validates and authenticates our calendar.’
The continued wondrous growth of modern Israeli Jewry has been made possible due to the Aliya of people like ourselves - may we continue to daily realize, and appreciate, the true magnitude of the undertakings we are blessed to take part in!

Rabbi Yerachmiel Roness, Ramat Shiloh, Beit Shemesh

TORAH THOUGHTS as contributed by Aloh Naaleh members for publication in the Orthodox Union’s ‘Torah Insights’, a weekly Torah publication on Parshat HaShavu’a

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