21 Elul 5777
This post marks our 10th anniversary in Eretz Yisrael, B"H! UPDATE BELOW.
One of my favorite movies is “Field of Dreams”, a 1989 classic starring
Kevin Costner. In this movie, Costner plays an Iowa corn farmer named
Ray Kinsella. Costner’s character is a huge baseball fan who keeps
having dreams, with the line “If you build it, they will come”. He
interprets this to mean that if he turns his corn farm into a baseball
field, the ghosts of the 1919 Chicago White Sox (who were accused of
cheating) would play one more game.
As unbelievable as it sounds, he does exactly that! He cuts down his
corn, uproots everything that had been planted and plows his field into a
real, major-league baseball field. The entire time, with everyone
against him, his sole motivation is that one simple line; “If you build
it, they will come.” This guides him, motivates him and is at the core
of everything he does.
Since the movie is almost 30 years old, I won’t mind ruining the
surprise for you. Yes, they come. Ray Kinsella may no longer have a corn
field, but he did manage to bring his dream to fruition. Against all
odds, he built it and – just like they said – they all came and played
that final game.
I think of this movie every year at this time, in the weeks following
Tisha B’av. We currently find ourselves in the period called “The 7
Weeks of Comfort” when our Rabbis chose very special sections to read
for our weekly Haftorah, which focus on comfort and consolation, after
the horrific destruction of the Temples. These are also the days when we
celebrated one of the most festive days of the year, known as Tu B’av
(the 15th of Av). Many wonderful things happened on that day,
which made it so joyful, but I want to focus on just one of those
things… because it has a deep connection to Kevin Costner’s movie.
We are all familiar with King David and the successor to his throne, his
son, King Shlomo. What very few people understand is what happened
next. When King Shlomo died, his kingdom was tragically divided. The
tribes of Yehuda and Binyamin were led by Shlomo’s son – and the
rightful ruler – Rechav’am. It was known as the Kingdom of Yehuda and
was based in Jerusalem. The remaining ten tribes were led by Yeravam ben
Nevat and was known as the Kingdom of Yisrael. Yeravam made the center
of his kingdom in northern Israel. This happened in the year 2964 (over
2,800 years ago).
For the first three years (2964-2967) the Jews from all over the country
continued to make pilgrimages to the Bet Ha’Mikdash in Jersusalem. This
angered Yeravam very much as he felt it strengthened Rechav’am.
Finally, he did something very drastic. In the year 2967 Yeravam set up
border guards to physically prevent the Jews from going to the Bet
Ha’Mikdash. As unbelievable as it sounds, this horrific policy continued
for 220 years!! Imagine that; Jewish kings preventing fellow Jews from
bringing the Korban Pesach, from witnessing the awesome service of the
Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, from bringing personal sacrifices, from
dancing on Sukkot in the Temple courtyard... incredible!
This lasted for 220 years until the 15 of Av 3187 when the northern
king, Hoshea ben Elah, removed the guards and became the first king of
Yisrael to allow the ten tribes to go to the Bet Ha’Mikdash! (See Talmud
Gittin 88a and also Ta’anit 30b-31a) What a happy day that was… Tu
That’s the good news. Fast forward 9 years and you will see that during
the reign of this same king Hoshea ben Elah, all ten tribes of Yisrael
were exiled! To this day we do not know where they are and they are
known as “The Lost Tribes”. How tragic was that?? 10 of Am Yisrael’s 12
tribes lost. How many Jews would there be in the world today if we had
all 12 tribes? While many studies have been conducted over the years,
and various scholars claim to have discovered some of these lost Jews –
such as the B’nei Menashe (from the tribe of Menashe) – these are just a
handful when compared to hundreds of millions of lost Jews. That’s the
Rabbi Nachman Kahana, Talmudic scholar and author of the “Mey Menuchot”
commentary of Tosafot, asks a very serious question; Why did the exile
of the 10 tribes happen during the days of Hoshea ben Elah? After all,
he did a good thing!! As stated above, the Talmud says that his actions –
of removing the border guards – resulted in Jews being able to come to
the Bet Ha’Mikdash! We dance to this very day on the 15th of Av to celebrate that great event… and yet, during his reign the 10 tribes were expelled, exiled and disappeared?? How can that be??
“If you build it, they will come”, said the voice in Kevin Costner’s dream in the movie. So he built it… and they came.
“If you remove the security guards, they will come (to the Bet
Ha’Mikdash)”, said the voice in Hoshea ben Elah’s dream but tragically…
they never came.
Rabbi Kahana explains that for 220 years the Jews in northern Israel
were not punished because they physically could not come to the Bet
Ha’Mikdash! There were guards, walls, fences and the gate was shut.
There was literally no way of going from northern Israel to Jerusalem.
It was simply impossible. But when Hoshea ben Elah removed those guards
and opened the gates, the excuses were gone. Jews could travel freely to
Jerusalem yet… they didn’t come. As their leader, Hoshea ben Elah was
punished. Yes, he did a wonderful thing by removing the guards but by
not making sure that the people actually went to the Bet Ha’Mikdash –
even though they could at any moment – both he and the people were
punished and sent into oblivion. They disappeared… maybe forever.
The message for our day is crystal clear. For hundreds of years Jews
could not travel to Israel. The roads were dangerous, there were
horrible diseases in the land and there was little chance of making a
living. We all dreamed of the land and said to Hashem; “If You build it,
we will come”. We begged, cried and pleaded with Hashem to rebuild the
land and make it possible for us to come.
Well, Hashem listened. Thanks to His holy helpers - tens of thousands of
hard-working pioneers and brave soldiers - the land has been built.
Nothing is lacking. You can fly to Israel in comfort while watching
movies and eating glatt kosher food. There are amazing places to live in
Israel, incredible educational opportunities, good jobs for men and
women and the chance to do what has not been done in close to 2,000
Our job now is to learn from Hoshea ben Elah. Everything is ready and
the guards have been removed. We need only one thing: The Jews to come
If you build it, they will come… Attention fellow Jews: It has been built. Time to come home.
Amen! It is a key to complete redemption. Even though you "may not make it" just by coming and living here, it is an important first step.
Don't underestimate it.
UPDATE: If you need help and you aren't getting enough from Nefesh b'Nefesh or the Jewish Agency, you might want to try Keep Olim.