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Friday, 18 December 2015

Date Night with G-d

Daf Yomi Gittin 4

Birthright is a fabulous way to introduce American kids to Israel.  They spend ten days on an all-expense-paid vacation in the Holy Land where their souls connect with their roots.  Many young women and men return as strong advocates for the Jewish state and the Jewish people, and filled with inspiration to learn more about Judaism.

Let me tell you about my friend, Nimrod.  When he moved out to Edmonton as the shliach (emissary) of the Jewish Agency and began participating in the Jewish community, he was embarrassed to admit that it was his first time inside a synagogue.  Having grown up on a completely secular kibbutz, it wasn’t until he lived in the Diaspora that he was fully able to appreciate Jewish life.  Following his experience, he began advocating for an Inverse Birthright program where young Israeli women and men would similarly come out and spend ten days in a Diaspora Jewish community, so that they could bring back some of that Yiddishkeit into their Israeli lives!

Mishnah: A messenger who brings a gett (divorce papers) from overseas must declare, ‘It was written and signed in my presence.’  Rabban Gamliel says: even one who brings it from Rekem and Cheger. Rabbi Eliezer says: Even from Kfar Ludim to Lud.
Gemara: Abaye taught: We are discussing cities close to the Land of Israel and surrounded by the border.
And Rabba bar bar Chanah said: I personally saw that place and it was as short as the distance between Bay Cuba and Pumpeditha.

Kfar Ludim was outside the Land of Israel, but it was so close that it was nearer than many Israeli cities.  While you could rely upon the authenticity of a gett from the other end of the country, you needed testimony to authenticate a gett from Kfar Ludim.   Why?  Because despite its physical proximity to Israel, that border made it worlds apart.

Sometimes a person may be physically close, but in reality very distant.  Nimrod’s experience is sadly far from unique.  Many Israelis go through life with zero connection to tradition. They are living in the Jewish state, isn’t that sufficient?  They feel that the daily national newspaper is their equivalent of a shul bulletin, so they see no need to be actively Jewish.  They are so close and yet so far.

Unfortunately, it can happen even in the frummest of communities.  There’s a new genre in Brooklyn Chasidic communities called ILO, In Levush Only, which means that they are only frum as far as their garb goes.  They dress the part and look the part – any outsider would think they’re as frum as can be – but really, some of them are going so far as no longer caring what they eat.  They are so close and yet so far.

Are you feeling a little detached from Heaven in your life?  Sometimes we can get so used to our surroundings that our Judaism begins to grow stale.  We start to drift away emotionally and psychologically.  You are there but not there.

It’s time to reignite the fire.  Just like a marriage where two people might physically be living under the same roof, but living completely separate lives; it’s not enough to physically be there for G-d, you need to be emotionally and mentally invested as well. 

When was the last time you had a date night with Hashem?  That means turning off your cell phone, clearing your agenda; and just spending time investing in your spirituality.  Some people best date G-d over a Book of Tehillim (Psalms); others date G-d over Maimonides’s Guide to the Perplexed; others date G-d by going out and visiting sick people in the hospital.

Everything in this world grows stale unless we constantly press the refresh button.   To the world around, you might appear to be close to Heaven, but deep inside you know that you are getting further and further away.  May you take time out of your busy schedule to have a regular date night with the Almighty!  

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