| Parshah |

Reality Room

Eretz Yisrael was always intended to be a place of accomplishment and progress, of holiness and service of Hashem.


“And Yaakov lived in the land of his father’s dwellings, in the land of Canaan.” (Bereishis 37:1)



aakov Avinu finally makes it home to Eretz Yisrael, the land Hashem gave his ancestors, promising them that their descendants would inherit it and dwell therein. Rashi explains that Yaakov viewed his return to Eretz Yisrael as the final chapter in his difficult and turbulent life. He perceives the Land as a place of refuge, where serenity and quiet retirement can be achieved. Hashem apparently didn’t agree with that assessment, as the the tragic events regarding Yosef and his brothers soon unfold.  (Rabbi Berel Wein)

Landing in the ER on a Monday afternoon isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. But my son had an infection that wasn’t responding to regular medications, and the pediatrician insisted he needed antibiotics by IV. With a letter from my doctor in hand, I figured it wouldn’t take so long, as we knew exactly what we needed. Think again.

ERs move at their own pace. Despite the drama associated with them, they often seem to move like a snail in reverse.

Dwelling in Eretz Yisrael is certainly no guarantee of peace and quiet. It’s a place of challenge and constant demands, of personal and national difficulties and struggles. It was never meant to be viewed as a giant “retirement community” for the Jewish People. Even though the Torah refers to it as a place of “rest and inheritance,” Eretz Yisrael was always intended to be a place of accomplishment and progress, of holiness and service of Hashem. To achieve such requires constant effort and sacrifice. It’s not an easy road to traverse..

So we sat, my son and I, on bone-numbing chairs (why couldn’t they put in some comfortable seating, knowing it would be occupied for hours?) with the sounds of babies wailing, cell phones ringing, and the paging system barking in the background.

It was a motley crowd gathered that afternoon. A chayal with his gun slung over his shoulder supported a friend who hobbled on crutches. An elderly Russian woman gestured with her hands to tell me that my son looked exactly like me. I thought she looked exactly like the quintessential babushka. There was a couple with a fretful baby next to a tall strapping guy with long hair and an earring. He stopped by our bench and asked in English if we’d mind listening out for his name, as he needed to leave for a minute.

“I’m Binyamin,” he said.

“So am I,” grinned my son. The two exchanged kindred smiles.

“I’ve been waiting here for three hours,” he shrugged, “but they’ll probably call me the minute I step out.”

He was right.

Part of the difficulty lies within the attitude of many Jews toward the State of Israel, with all of its imperfections and difficulties. They misread the promise inherent in the creation of a Jewish national entity. Many see it as the solution to all Jewish problems, that will somehow guarantee eternal happiness.

Yet the return of the Jewish People to their ancestral homeland has not brought about the creation of utopia. Rather, it has placed before us a great number of challenges — financial, familial, and spiritual — and many difficult dilemmas. The State of Israel has not turned out to be the supreme retirement home we envisioned. Instead, it’s a real place with real problems because it contains real people. It’s engaged in constructing a real society that will embody the holiness of Jewish tradition and the practicality of the world in which we live. If we view it correctly and resolve not to see it through falsely nostalgic eyes, we will prosper, as did our forefathers long ago.

As time ticked by and progress was slowly made (blood tests taken, IV set up), I found myself pulled farther from the real world outside and more into the enclave made up of our fellow patients. And many hours later, when we were finally discharged, I felt a link between us, as my son offered the sticker he’d received to the fretful toddler squirming on his mother’s lap.

Nobody can say that an ER visit is an exalted or exhilarating experience. But an afternoon in an Israeli ER gets bumped up a notch so it becomes a unique chavayah, of real people living real life in the city with the highest “real” estate values on earth.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 769)

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