Return to the Land
October 27, 2023
By Rus Devorah Wallen

I’m Rus Devorah Wallen, and I’d like to share my T for 2, my Torah thought for two minutes, more or less.

The Alter Rebbe said, “M’darf leb’n mit der tzeit – We must live with the times.” This does not refer to the New York or London Times, or any other news publication. He is suggesting that we live with the times of the Torah portion and commemorative events that have insights to our day-to-day life. Even though we are in the 21st-century, our millennia-old, but ever so relevant Torah gives us inspiration to see Hashem’s hand in our lives.

The first words of our portion are “Lech Lecho – Go for yourself, or to yourself.” The commentators say this means, “go for your own growth, benefit, and improvement.” Hashem told these words to Avraham Avinu, our first forefather. He was told to leave his land everything behind to go the land that G-d would show him – Eretz Cana’an – the Land of Israel.

According to the Midrash, Our Matriach, Rochel Imeinu’s Yahrtzeit is this week, the 11th of Cheshvan. Rochel is the only matriarch not buried in the couples’ cave of Machpelah. She was buried in Bethlehem, on the way. The Midrash says that Jacob “saw” that when Israel would be exiled, they would go on the road to Efrat, and Rachel would “see” them and react. The prophet Jeremiah says, “A cry is heard in Ramah — bitter weeping — Rachel weeps for her children. She refuses to be comforted, for they are gone.” Hashem consoles her and says: “Your children shall return to their land.” (Genesis Rabbah 82:10).

I saw a fascinating meme about our parsha. Avraham was born in the year 1948 from the creation of the world. When he was 75 years old, he defeated the four Kings in a swift and miraculous battle saving his captive nephew, Lot – 2023 in the Jewish calendar. The State of Israel was established in 1948 after the common era…Today we’re in a battle with captives, 75 years later – another 2023!

Lately, I hear pro-semitic politicians discussing why we need to defend our land since we’ve been there for 75 years. Really? It is our land because it was promised to Avraham Avinu – our Father Abraham from over 3500 years ago, as we are reading in these current Torah portions. So, starting with Avraham, Jews have never completely left the Land unless they were expelled from it. This is our homeland, and we must protect it. The Jewish people are eternal, our Land is eternal, and we certainly have the right to defend ourselves and exist like any other people.

Avraham’s journey in Lech Lecho is characterized by unwavering faith and trust in God’s guidance. Despite the uncertainties and challenges he faced, he set out on a path of great significance. This story serves as a powerful reminder that, even in times of adversity, we can find strength through faith and trust, remain human and humane, loving life, and believing that there is a greater purpose behind our struggles.

May we immediately see the complete and peaceful return of our captives to their Land, and peace in the region and around the world.

Rus Devorah Wallen is an accomplished musician, performer, social worker, psychotherapist, and educator.

Return to the Land - Jewish Thought of the week 2022