Israeli military infantry stands in middle of the desert holding an Israeli flag with the star of David. Jewish patriot. Military exercises at Masada Fortress on mountain in Judean desert in Israel.

75 Years of Home

On Israel's 75th birthday, reflections on the Jewish concept of home.

The Torah begins with the letter bet (ב‎), the same letter that begins bayit in Hebrew, meaning home. Some have taken this as a signal: There is a home in the Torah. Yet it is an uneasy home, full of wandering, perplexity and challenge.

Such unease is part of the true nature of home. Commenting on the phrase ger toshav, stranger-resident, the Maggid of Dubno explains we should all feel both comfortable in the world and out of place in it, like residents and like strangers. Echoing this insight is the philosopher Theodor Adorno: “The highest form of morality is not to feel at home in one’s own home.”

Israel is not the perfect home, but it is the Jewish home. As we celebrate its 75th birthday, with all its challenges, we say a prayer of gratitude and of hope.

Rabbi David Wolpe’s musings are shared in My Jewish Learning’s Shabbat newsletter, Recharge, a weekly collection of readings to refresh your soul. Sign up to receive the newsletter.

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