We choose our destinies. Exilic wandering, for the modern Jew, is a choice.
As Reb Chaim of Volozhin teaches in his magisterial Nefesh HaChayiim (1824), "And this is the Torah of being a person…One should never say in their heart, God forbid, 'For what am I and what is my power to enact anything through my insignificant and and deeds? Understand, know, and set in your heart that every detail of every deed, word, and thought is not lost. Every one of them ascends to its own Source to cause an effect in the highest Heavens. (NH 1:4)" No act is neutral, and we can have a cosmic impact by simply thinking differently.
This is a difficult concept. So much happens in the world. Cyclones and social injustice and all the other headlines combine to overwhelm even the prophets among us. Can we reasonably believe in our power to heal the world? Is 'Hope' an illusion? Rabbi Israel Morgenstern of Pilov is quoted as having taught: "One who does not want to see the truth will not see it, even if it demonstrated to him with clarity. Their eyes are sealed from ever seeing it."
It is time to open our eyes once more and let in the very light which will allow us to illuminate the world. What does the modern State of Israel represent? It is the home of the Jewish soul. It is a place of wonder and encounter, of desert and mountain. It is not a vacation spot – it is the setting for Jewish pilgrimage, where we set out for our own sakes. Have you seen Israel? Is the most you've seen news articles? Then you haven't seen it yet. Every one of us has the ability to choose our own destiny, to let the words of Jewish Tikvah, hope, permeate our every pore. To choose a powerful and empowered Jewish fate.
The words of HaTikvah, with which I close, beg every Jew to choose to see, to yearn, to become – to actualize the deepest power of their soul. May we all feel that blessed, soon and in our days.
As long as the Jewish spirit yearns deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East, staring toward Zion,
Then our two-thousand-year-old hope will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
Am Yisrael Chai! The People of Israel Lives!