Vayikra - Don’t Worry They All Come Back!
How many Jews have been lost to our people? Think about the ten lost tribes! What about the Babylonian exile? How many Jews assimilated? What about the two millennia of our current exile? All in all the numbers must be staggering... How does G-d feel about his children who are lost? So lost, they are not even aware of their true identity. As fellow Jews, should this not be one of our greatest concerns? Should we all not be preoccupied with helping our lost brothers and sisters find their way back home? As a young yeshivah student some twenty five years ago I met Mr Sheldon Edelson (May G-d grant him a complete and speedy recovery) who was then just embarking on his hospitality and gaming business. He said something to me that I won’t forget. He told me, in the casino business when the “house” loses, there is a saying, “don’t worry they all come back”. I said to him, that is especially true regarding the Jewish people. No matter how far any Jew has gone astray, “they will all eventually come back”. You may ask, how? I would like to suggest that the answer lies with each and everyone of us. I met a man some time ago who was brought up by his parents as a Christian. Recently he discovered that his mother who was born in Suriname was in fact Jewish. Their family had fled from Spain to South America soon after the Spanish expulsion. I asked him if he would like to put on Tefillin. He said he had never heard of Teffilin or Bar Mitzvah. In fact he had never been into a synagogue. As he put on Tefillin he was extremely emotional in a most profound way. He was like a child reconnecting with his family he had never known. The question we must ask ourselves is: Do we sit back and wait for our lost brothers and sisters to find their way back? Or perhaps should we all not be proactive in helping them find their way back home? The answer, to any “brother” or “sister”, must be obvious. But this has to be done with the greatest sensitivity and care. One first needs to demonstrate an unconditional love towards our lost brethren who have gone astray through no fault of their own. This unique approach can be derived from no less then G-d himself. In the first verse of this week’s Torah Portion we read, “He called to Moses and Hashem spoke to him”. Rashi explains that on each and every occasion before G-d spoke to Moses, he first “called his name”, so as to demonstrate his love and affection for Moses. The Lubavitcher Rebbe derives from this a most powerful lesson. He explains that before we try to influence any Jew, we must first and foremost demonstrate that we love and care for them as people. Our relationship with them is pure, without any ulterior motives. Human beings listen very carefully only to people who genuinely care about them. Each and everyone of us meet many such Jews by “coincidence”. The truth is that there is no “coincidence”. For in fact it is G-d who has engineered that encounter so that we can act as an “emissary” to facilitate with the greatest patience and love, the return of his children “back home”. History depends on our attitude towards it. In truth we are all “players” in the game of life. The prophets foresaw a time when “The strayed who are in the land of Assyria and the expelled who are in the land of Egypt shall come back” (Isaiah 27:13). The question for which we have the answer is: How soon will that happen?