The Contributions that New Immigrants Can Make

In Parshat Masei we are commanded to settle the Land of Israel: Bamidbar 33: 53 states: “And you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the Land and dwell in it: for I have given you the land to possess it.”


In the days of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, when there was a famine in The Land of Israel, God promised Yitzchak in Breisheet 26:2-3 “…Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the Land which I will tell you about: sojourn in this Land, and I will be with you, and I will bless you for unto you, and unto your seed, I will give all of these lands.”


Nehama Leibowitz asks the following question: What is the difference between B’nai Yisrael’s relationship to their homeland and the other nations relationship to theirs?


Nechama Leibowitz answers that B’nai Yisrael are aware that the Land of Israel was granted by God. This is not just history, it involves a moral obligation, the responsibility to observe a particular way of life in that Land. According to Ramban, B’nail Yisrael were specifically commanded to take possession of the Land of Israel and live there to fulfill their religious mission.


Today, we see individuals making a conscious decision to make aliya in order to observe the mitzvah of settling the Land as well as to observe the many mitzvoth that can only be performed in the Land of Israel such as the Shmittah year (the Sabbatical year).


As well, there are those who feel that instead of just mentioning Jerusalem in their prayers three times a day they would rather take action and actually move to Israel.


Six years ago, when I made aliya, I had the honor of being greeted at the airport by Natan Sharansky.


Natan Sharansky, now chief of the Jewish Agency addressed the olim (new immigrants) that arrived from North America this week as well. In his speech, Natan Sharansky said, “From my own experience, I can tell you there is nothing like being the first generation in Israel…There is nothing like an oleh – a new immigrant to Israel – to go up, up, and up- you don’t have a word in English for this…Now you are becoming Israelis – but don’t be in a hurry to drop everything you brought from America...We still need your passion for social activism, for small government, for clean politics… that’s your contribution.” 

In addition to taking on more mitzvot between themselves and God, the new olim also have the opportunity to perform mitzvot between themselves and their fellow Israelis and make contributions to improve Israeli society.