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A Cousin From Israel

Friday, 8 November, 2019 - 9:12 am

Lech-Lecha Email

Dear Friend, 

Do you have a cousin (or another relative) from Israel? 

The reactions to my sharing last week that “my cousin from Israel will be here for Shabbat” brought out invariable reactions of interest, admiration, camaraderie, excitement, a certain something indefinable. 

Was it pride and solidarity? A  sense of connection? Wishfulness or prayer? 

He came with his wife thanks to a “dare” made at a recent family wedding, an upcoming milestone birthday, and his penchant for getting deals on cheap tickets to anywhere. (And, apparently, to be the 10th man at our monthly Shabbos family service.)

It was a great surprise and pleasure to host him and his wife, and they, for their part, discovered that Orange County isn’t just anywhere. 

It’s not. 

And not just because of the easy shopping and scenery. 

Ever since G-d promised the Holy Land to our Father Abraham (in this week’s parshah) the Land of Israel became a central basis for the Holy nation.

Avraham traveled, and taught, and instilled the land with soul and spirit for the future habitations of his progeny.

It was and is the Jewish homeland, and, till today, we turn toward Jerusalem in prayer three times a day.

But the beating heart and basis for our existence as a people is not location oriented but covenant oriented (also in this week’s parshah). 

The covenant is the eternal bond with G-d for us as a people, with a unique mission of dedication to Him in a way that affects our physical lives, the society and world around us, lighting the way by living by His laws and transforming the earth and air around us into a Holy Land of itself.

Orange County is no Israel, and RSM is no Jerusalem. 

But if we’re living here, then it’s to make it one. Not as a separate entity but as an extension of it—the holiness, the connection, the transformation, the proud rush of excitement and the dulcet wistfulness for something ethereal, along with the realness of G-d in everyday life. 

And we’re doing it. Each one of us, in the way that we know and that we are learning to do. 

My cousin and his wife detected some of that here, and then they went back home, alone.

But Hashem is a better detector – He’s seen more of the Holy Land-extension in play and He’s more than ready to already bring us all along. 

Let it be today.

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