How Can We Get the Majority of Jews Back to Israel?

The Parsha ends with a list of the gifts that God presented to the Kohanim as a reward for their service.


Teruma is a gift (from fruits and grains) that is mentioned in this section.


Those living in Israel are familiar with the laws of Teruma. When we shop for produce we have to make sure that there is a sign saying that Terumot have been taken out.


Is it still a Biblical commandment to observe the laws of Teruma in the Land of Israel today?


According to Rambam in Hilchot Trumot, today Teruma is a Rabbinic mitzvah. It only applies in the Land of Israel as a Biblical commandment when all of Israel dwells there.


In the days of Ezra (Second Temple), not all of the Jews came back to Israel. Today as well, although we have the State of Israel not all of the Jews are living in Israel.


What exactly does “all of Israel” mean? Does every Jew in the world need to move to Israel in order for the Mitzvah of Teruma to once again become a Biblical commandment?


If most of the Jews in the world move to Israel and the majority of the Jews in the world are living in Israel then the mitzvah of Teruma as well as the other mitzvoth HaTluyot BaAretz (mitzvoth that only take place in the Land of Israel) will once again become Biblical commandments.


The question now is how are we going to get the majority of Jews in the world to move to Israel?


One way that is slowly helping bring young families to Israel is the high cost of day school tuition. Many people who can no longer afford US day schools are realizing that in Israel their children can get an excellent Jewish education in the religious public schools.


The phenomenon of students coming to study in Israel for a year has also brought about a rise in aliya as many students become comfortable in Israel during their year abroad and feel that they can make Israel their home.


The rise in anti-semitism in many parts of the world has helped play a factor in aliya as well.


The most effective way for Rabbis to encourage aliya is by setting an example. The fact that Rabbi Riskin left Lincoln Square Synagogue to start a community in Efrat encouraged many members of his congregation to move to Israel as well. The same is true for Rabbi Shalom Rosner, a Rabbi from Woodmere, Long Island who built a community called Nofei HaShemesh and encouraged many of his congregants to follow in his footsteps.


If we can bring the majority of Jews in the world back to Israel, not only will they be able to observe the Mitzvoth HaTluyot Ba’aretz Rabinically, they will raise us to a level where we can perform these mitzvoth on a Biblical level.