Translated and adapted by Chaya Sara Ben Shachar
The Egyptians. The Babylonians. The Romans. Jewish history is full of tragedies. If the Egyptians alone would have succeeded in their quest, the Jews would have remained slaves for futurity. But they didn't succeed. And the Babylonians didn't succeed in wiping out the Jewish nation either. Nor did the Romans, the Cossacks, the Germans and a host of other persecutors. We've survived it all.
And I say strangely because a cursory glance at Mongol and Greek history will show you that not every nation survives. Those once strong empires are now relics of the past. The Abbasid Caliphate, who hears about them these days? Well, in their heyday they ruled all of West Asia and North Africa. But they’re gone. Sunken through the annals of history.
And the Jews? All you have to do is turn on your radio and you'll hear about us. A once strong nation we were and an influential one we remain. It seems as though we've survived every possible tragedy. A statistic anomaly. The laws of nature have skipped over us completely.
"And it will be, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you that you will consider in your heart, among all the nations where the Lord your God has banished you" (Deuteronomy 30:1).
The curses have come true. But so have the blessings. We have survived.
Against the odds.
But survival alone is not enough. We want true blessing. We are squinting into the sun, still waiting for the ultimate blessing – the redemption. Geulah. "…God will bring back your exiles…. Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens, the Lord, your God, will gather you from there…. God will bring you to the land which your forefathers possessed and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations where the Lord, your God had dispersed you" (ibid 3-5).
It will happen. If the "curse which I have set before you" has unfortunately been fulfilled—many times—then the ultimate promise, the ingathering of the exiles will be fulfilled as well.
But it's a slow process. Returning as a people begins with microcosmic Jewish return —return to the ways of our Creator. "…And you will return and listen to the voice of the Lord, and fulfill all His commandments…" (ibid 8).
It's happening. All around us. The number of Jews returning to their Jewish self, being true to their spiritual reality as guided by the Torah, has grown disproportionately over the past few decades. With every small decision to make our lifestyles more in tune with Torah values, we are hastening that ultimate blessing. May it come speedily and in our days.