"When the LORD brought back the
captivity of Zion we were like those who dream ... those who sow in tears
shall reap in joy." (Psalm 126:1,5)
An iconic Israeli song, "Oy, Dear God" illustrates the tension of the
rapturous, romantic dream of returning to the land of the fathers,
juxtaposed with the very coarse, down-to-earth reality of interaction with
"fellow sinner" Israelis already living here. Poor treatment and
discrimination toward new immigrants is common in all countries, but here
it comes from fellow Jews - and in the very land of promise where we would
hope to live in godly harmony.
It is very exciting to return from the exile to Israel - the fulfillment of
our ancestors' dream. At the end of every Passover they proclaimed,
"Next year in rebuilt Jerusalem!" However, every wave of returnees has met
with difficulties, including learning a new language and adapting to a new
culture. My grandparents on my father's side came from Morocco, and on
my mother's side, from Yemen. Making aliyah from Morocco was
especially challenging. The Jewish community there was very well
established economically and culturally. Yet when they came to Israel, they
were looked down upon by the Jews already living in the land, causing
tension and disappointment.
The iconic song, "Oy Dear God", debuted in the most famous Israeli movie of
all times, Sallah Shabbati, about a returnee from Morocco. The
trials of his absorption into Israel were much the same as today, 50 years
OY DEAR GOD (ACH YA RAB) - SALLAH'S SONG
Words by Haim Hefer; Main translator: G. Jakubovits
What am I doing here - I have no idea.
What is this here anyway, I ask.
From all sides I hear ...
"This is the Land of Israel, Sallah"
Here was where King David lived,
Here you'll live too, may it be God's will,
In the land of Zion, as God promised.
Oy dear God, dear God, Oy Vey, Oy Vey
Where, oh where, oh where is the Land of Israel?
How could we have left our home there
and put everything into a suitcase? ...
We came just like the Exodus from Egypt:
the kids, the luggage, my wife ...
How we saw the footsteps of the Messiah,
How we heard the call of the Shofar ...
How we said, "God is watching over us.
We won't want for anything here ..."
And now there's no one to help us.
There's no Messiah, just Sallah Shabbati,
Who uses his back for loads, like a donkey.
Oy dear God ...
While the people of Israel were still in the desert, the LORD made a
covenant with them, including promises conditional on them keeping His
instructions. Leviticus 26 lays out the promises and the conditions rather
starkly, including the punishment of being exiled from the land of Israel
Returning by boat
"Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies ... I
will remember the covenant of their ancestors." (Leviticus 26:44-45)
Then, "I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all
countries, and bring you into your own land ..." (Ezekiel 36:24)
The land of Israel was promised to the people of Israel. However, the land
vomits out those who will not walk in His ways (Leviticus 18).
The first exile of Israel lasted seven decades in Babylon. The returning
immigrants included Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah and Haggai. Later, in 70
A.D., Rome destroyed the Temple in which Yeshua had taught, and exiled the
Aliyah camp in 1952
The second exile of Israel lasted two millennia, with the Jewish people
scattered among the nations, persecuted and accused. But God preserved them
by His Torah, and indeed the return to Zion began in 1881, and continues
to this day.
Sallah's Song describes the heart being drawn to Israel, the
immigrant's trials and the desire to integrate into society. Yet
hidden in the lyrics, more important than everything else, is the reference
to the approaching footsteps of the Messiah. I do not belittle the many
difficulties that both new and old immigrants deal with. They are often
devastatingly real. However, in the midst of testing, we remind ourselves
that Yeshua is the reason we have been drawn back to the land. And here we
will stand, in spite of the challenges, until He returns to redeem our