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A very dear friend of mine travels extensively several times a year between his family in Europe and his permanent home in Israel. He often tells me that when he is there he wishes to be here and when he was here he often wishes to be there. I am somewhat in the same situation, so I readily can identify with that sort of emotion. But I check myself by the realization that this is a true reflection of the human condition.  
We are an eternally dissatisfied species always wanting to be where we are not and to have whatever we wish.  The grass us always greener elsewhere.  We are inevitably frustrated by our inability to be at two places at the same time. I reiterate, when we are here we wish to be there and when we are finally there we again wish to be here. I deem this to be one of the most frustrating of human emotions and the source of a great deal of depression and constant angst.
This type of emotional syndrome is reflected in various ways in our current Jewish and general society. I am convinced that the key to understanding much of what is currently happening in today’s Jewish and general society is due to realizing the influence of being here and there at one and the same time. And of the sadness and depression that pervades our world.
One of the great shocking and surprising occurrences, after the establishment of the State of Israel seventy years ago, is the continuing paucity of Jewish immigration to our ancient homeland from Western countries. Imagine, if after so many centuries of prayer and longing, the thing that they prayed for and dreamt of finally became reality and no one really took advantage of the situation. Most Jews simply were unable to imagine themselves as being there after so many centuries of being here.
We may long to be there, but it is difficult in the extreme to leave here. Chaim Weitzman, who would serve as the first president of the nascent state plaintively complained in the 1920s: “Where are the Jews?”  Well, they were mostly here in the Diaspora and not there where their prayers and hopes had resided for ages.
There are many legitimate explanations as to why this happened and continues to happen seventy years later. Inertia overcomes inspiration and the accustomed triumphs over the unknown. And yet the wish of many in the Jewish world is that they were there and not here in the West. This is part of the continuing dysfunction of the Jewish world relative to the continuing existence and success if the Stare of Israel.
It was so much easier to deal with it when it was but a dream than now when it has become reality. The here was tangible and the there was ephemeral. But now that the there has become real as well, we wish to be in both the here and there  at one and the same time.
As the contraction of the Jewish diaspora continues to unfold before our eyes, difficult national and personal choices will have to be made. In a world of limited resources, the question arises as to where these resources should be directed and expended. Do the demands of there automatically overweigh the apparent needs of here? And if so, to what extent? These are hard questions to have to deal with. But after seventy years of the existence of the State of Israel, it is obvious that this issue   looms larger than it did ever before in Jewish life.
The Jewish world is constantly in a state of triage. And this is true on a personal level as well. Where will my grandchildren have a better chance of being truly Jewish -here or there? Where will it be safer for Jews in the future? That question was not sufficiently explored in the early part of the previous century, with very dire results.
Apparently, many thought that the choice between here and there was unimportant - it was neither here or there. But unfortunately history has shown otherwise. For most if our history we were presented with very few choices of where we were and where we would like to be. We therefore have little experience in choosing wisely. But choosing wisely now we must.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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