Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog
 Printer Friendly


There are many discomforting and even unpleasant experiences that await those of us who travel by airplane in our current world. Air travel was once considered a luxury experience, apart from one’s final destination. Well, the combination of terrorism, enhanced security measures, crowded planes, narrow seats, somewhat surly service and other sundry annoyances have turned air travel into a chore at best. But perhaps the most dreaded of mishaps, when the plane does arrive at its destination, is the sinking feeling that one has at the baggage carousel when somehow one’s baggage does not appear.

The airlines claim that almost all luggage eventually does appear and is delivered to its intended destination and recipient. They also claim that their record of luggage being correctly placed on the carousel at the end of the flight is 95%. Though this may be so, it is of little comfort to the 5% who stand patiently and forlornly at the carousel waiting for luggage that may have been shipped halfway around the world.
The realization that one’s luggage has been lost is one of the most frustrating emotions. I recall that once I arrived at my daughter’s home in the United States and she was not home, so I left my luggage on the front porch and circled around to the back entrance to see if I could gain entry there. When I could not, I returned to the front porch and to my horror my luggage was gone. I was beside myself. Eventually, however, the cleaning woman noticed me on the front porch and upon being let into the house, I saw that she had efficiently brought my luggage inside when I was in the back of the house. My feelings of relief matched those of the frustration that I had experienced just a few short moments earlier.
This experience, long stored away in my memory bank, surfaces every so often when I think about the current situation of the Jewish people, especially as it relates to those of us that live in Israel. The Jewish people have returned from being almost annihilated by the events of the past century. Jews in the Diaspora have, in the main, become successful and prosperous. Here in Israel we have built a first-world state and society, offering a home for all Jews. Yet, undoubtedly not all our luggage has arrived.
For many Jews any sense of tradition or Jewish history has been misplaced or lost entirely. For many, if not most of the Jewish people, family traditions and long held value systems have been eroded by secularism, assimilation and the pressure of modern society. But somehow in the hearts and minds of many of these Jews, they still stand at the side of the baggage carousel waiting for their ‘lost luggage’ to appear even if they would be hard-pressed to be able to identify it if it somehow came tumbling down the chute of history and society.
Jews who have lived without tradition and without an attachment to Torah and to the Jewish people, sense within themselves that something is missing. But, few are willing to search for their ‘lost luggage.’ But, if it does appear, they are drawn to it and there is an inner sense that this is something that should be claimed.
There is a real awakening in the search for tradition and Jewish values in parts of the Jewish community, certainly here in Israel and even in some of the Diaspora as well. This past century has been a very long and tiresome trip and we are severely jetlagged from the difficult journey. It is understandable that some of our luggage, long treasured and valued, was lost on the way.
But we should never despair, for there are many signs of change in much of Israeli society in its attitude towards tradition, Jewish values and even certain observances and customs. I have no doubt that this will continue in the future as well and that just as the prophet’s prediction regarding the ingathering of the exiles has been fulfilled, so too our values, traditions, hopes and aspirations will continue to be revived. None of our luggage will be lost.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

Subscribe to our blog via email or RSS to get more posts like this one.