Be Proud of Your Heritage

In Parshat Miketz, when nobody else is able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams,

 the chief butler, who has already been out of jail for two years, finally remembers to mention Yoseph to Pharaoh.


In Breisheet 41:12 the chief butler tells Pharaoh: “With us (in jail) there was a lad, a Hebrew (Ivri), a slave of the chief executioner. We told him about our dreams and he interpreted our dreams, he interpreted each man’s dreams accordingly.”


The butler knew that Yoseph was an Ivri since after Yoseph interpreted his dream and told him that he would return to work for Pharaoh Yoseph made one request (Breisheet 40:14-15) “But remember me when things go well with you. Please deal kindly with me, and mention me to Pharaoh, and take me out of this house. I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and here I have also done nothing that they should put me in this dungeon.”


Yoseph made it very clear that he was an “Ivri”.


Even before this, when Potiphar’s wife accused Yoseph of attacking her she said (Breisheet 39:14) “…See, he brought us a Hebrew man to mock us…”


The Midrash in Devarim Raba states:


Rabbi Levi said:


Moshe said before God: “Master of the Universe, the bones of Yoseph are entering the Land and am I not to enter the Land?”


The Holy One Blessed Be He said to him: “He who acknowledged his land- is to be buried in his land, and he who did not acknowledge his land- is not to be buried in his land. Joseph acknowledged his land- he is to be buried in his land. But you who did not acknowledge your land, you will not be buried in your land.”


When did Moshe not acknowledge his land?


When the daughters of Yitro said: (Shmot 2:19) “An Egyptian man saved us from the hand of the shepherds.”


 Moshe heard them yet remained silent; therefore Moshe is not buried in the land while Yoseph’s bones were buried in Shechem.


What we learn from here is the importance of being proud of our heritage which is not easy especially when Jews are living outside of the Land of Israel.


A few weeks ago there was a campaign in the United States to try to get Israelis to return to the Land of Israel by telling them that if they stay out of Israel they may forget their heritage and that their spouses and their children won’t understand them.


Unfortunately, it is not enough just to have been brought up with Israeli culture, one must be brought up in the Jewish religion, understand what Judaism is about and be a proud Jew.


One of the billboards in the campaign said that if you are away from Israel for too long, then your children will not call you “Abba”, they will start to call you “Daddy”. Is that what the media campaign is concerned about? We have been living in Israel for 7 and a 1/2 years and our three young children who speak Hebrew and English fluently and are fully observant, proud Jews and Israelis call us Mommy and Daddy.


Another ad showed a child in the US skyping her grandparents in Israel. When the grandparents asked what holiday it was, the grandchild said Christmas instead of Chanuka and the grandparents were extremely sad and disappointed. Sure, when you are in Israel, you barely know about Christmas unless you live near Beit Lechem or the Old City of Jerusalem and only Chanuka is celebrated in the schools so there is no December dilemma but there are plenty of Israelis who live abroad and are proud of their heritage and continue to celebrate the Jewish holidays.


It may be easier to be a proud Jew in Israel, but you can certainly be a proud religious Jew in Chutz l’aretz (outside of the Land of Israel).  Each of us has to make the conscious decision if we want to make Aliya and move to Israel, stay in Israel or leave Israel. This important decision should not be made based on a billboard.