Rav Doron Perez
Chief Executive, World Mizrachi

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Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai, one of the great rabbinic precursors to the Zionist movement, mentions a critical insight regarding the process of Teshuva. (The Writings of Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai, Mosad Harav Kook (pg 237, 323/4). He highlights the inextricable link between the spiritual return of the Jewish people to Hashem and the physical return to the Land, as clearly evidenced in the Torah in the section dealing with Teshuva.
[Sefer Devarim (30, 1-10)]: “…וְשַׁבְתָּ֞ עַד ה’ אֱלֹקֶיךָ וְשָֽׁמַעְתָּ֣ בְקֹל֔וֹ כְּכֹ֛ל אֲשֶׁר אָֽנֹכִ֥י מְצַוְּךָ֖ הַיּ֑וֹם”

And you will return to the L-rd, your G-d and head His voice, according to all that I command you today …”
And immediately afterwards in the next verse it says:

” אֶת־שְׁבֽוּתְךָ֖ וְרִֽחֲמֶ֑ךָ וְשָׁ֗ב וְקִבֶּצְךָ֙ מִכָּל־הָ֣עַמִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֧ר הֱפִֽיצְךָ֛ ה’ אֱלֹקֶיךָ שָֽׁמָּה ה’ אלקיך וְשָׁ֨ב “
“Then, the L-rd, your G-d, will bring back your exiles…. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the L-rd, your G-d, had dispersed you.” The concurrent processes of the spiritual return to Hashem and the collective return of the Jewish People to the Land are clearly part and parcel of the same process, notes Rabbi Alkalai. It is no surprise, therefore, that the incredible return of millions of Jews to Israel, primarily since the founding of the State, has transpired in tandem with the rebuilding of the spiritual world of Torah learning and living.

This dual return is one of the most extraordinary events in all of human history. It is a rich mosaic of miracles somehow incredibly woven together – the establishment of an independent Jewish State only 3 years after the ovens of Auschwitz; the creation of a country of refuge for millions of returning Jews from over 100 countries, speaking more than 80 languages, after almost 2000 years of wandering; the transformation of the Land of Israel from a barren backwater into a flourishing oasis; the revival of Hebrew from an ancient static textual language to the living lingua franca of the Jewish State; the building of a thriving economy which emerged from the depleted  pre-State Yishuv – and to crown it all: the remarkable rebuilding of the Torah world in general with more Torah learning in our generation, arguably than in any other. How blessed we are to be continually witnessing and participating in the incredible process of dual return – to the Land and to Hashem.

comments: ravperez@mizrachi.org