Israel Forever

For the week ending 2 August 2008 / 1 Av 5768

The Wandering Jew

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The characterization of the Jewish nation as a flock of wanderers perhaps has its roots in this week's Torah portion, which lists no less than 42 stops made by our ancestors on their forty-year journey from Egypt to Eretz Yisrael.

While this wandering was a prelude to inheriting the Land promised to the Patriarchs, the wandering of the last couple of millennia has been the result of exile from that Land.

Our Sages explain the purpose of wandering as not only an atonement for the sins committed while in the Holy Land but also for the impact that a Jewish presence had on the lands in which they wandered. Whether this expressed itself in the converts to Judaism, the kabbalistic concept of liberating sparks of holiness trapped in foreign cultures or the many other benefits that came to all lands which hosted them, it is clear that the entire world gained much from the wandering Jew.

The return in our generation of many Jews to their own Land has unfortunately not yet brought an end to the saga of the wandering Jew. We pray three times a day for the Divinely orchestrated ingathering of all the wandering Jews into Israel forever.

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