April 29: Walk the walk

How can it be that aliya, a mitzva mentioned no fewer than 85 times in the Torah, is relegated to non-existence by so many otherwise observant Jews?

Walk the walk
Sir, – Kudos to Gil Troy (“How can Jews be ‘Orthodox’ without living in Israel?,” Center Field, April 27).
It has long amazed me that we, as Orthodox Jews, have agonized over making sure that there is not a thread of linen woven into a wool suit, that on Pessah we eat a small piece of matza called a k’zayit or that we don’t pick out kernels of corn on Shabbat lest we be accused of being a borer (one who is selective).
How can it be that aliya, a mitzva mentioned no fewer than 85 times in the Torah, is relegated to non-existence by so many otherwise observant Jews?
Ma’aleh Adumim
The writer is a rabbi
Sir, – Gil Troy raises what appears to be a simple, obvious question. After all, aren’t God, Torah, the Jewish people and the Land of Israel bound up with one another according to the simplest understanding of the weekly Torah reading? Regardless of whether or not there is a halachic imperative to make aliya before the Messiah appears, the obvious intent of the biblical text is that, according to Orthodoxy, it is God’s will that the Jewish people leave their native land, come to Israel, dwell in Israel, perform mitzvot in Israel and become inculcated into a holy nation, God’s chosen people.
Whereas a halachic Jew is permitted to leave the Land of Israel if he is in need of a job, shiduch or special Torah study program, most Orthodox Jews abroad prefer only to retire or be buried in the Land of Israel rather than live active lives here.
Truth be told, unless a person has an important position in a Diaspora Jewish community or an immediate care-taking requirement, he or she is basically choosing comfort, culture, financial endeavors and convenience over an Orthodox religious imperative.

Sir, – I once heard of a custom in Eastern Europe, at a time when Jews could only dream of ever coming to Israel, that an announcement of the location of a forthcoming wedding would conclude with: “However, if the Messiah arrives before then, it will be held in the holy city of Jerusalem.”
A litmus test for sincerity of the answers people give to Gil Troy’s question is the degree to which they honestly regret not being able to currently live in the Promised Land.
Woeful hasbara
Sir, – April 27 letter writers Neal Gendler (“Anyone Listening”) and John Katten (“Show Them Hospitals”) both address what has been a serious failure for what seems like forever in our beleaguered country.
What is the problem? Is it arrogance on the part of those entrusted with telling our story? That they know best? Why cannot we, the public, effect a change in what is either done or not done on our behalf? There can be nothing worse than feeling helpless in the face of ineffective and often counter-productive practice in our public relations processes.
McCain’s in favor
Sir, – The options available to American voters in November 2008 were basically limited to Barack Obama and John McCain.
The significance of this is relevant to Caroline B.
Glick’s latest excoriation of the current US president (“Obama’s altruistic foreign policy,” Column One, April 22).
Glick took Obama to task this time for supporting the “al-Qaida-penetrated anti-regime forces in Libya.”
It is unfortunate but typically disingenuous of Glick that in her near-2,000- word screed she does not inform her readers that while Obama did join the NATO-backed opposition to Muammar Gaddafi, it is McCain who is Washington’s most passionate proponent of the initiative. He defended Obama by saying he could not wait for Congress to take even a few days to debate the use of force.