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Being home… Nothing like being home.

As I return from 20 days away in Argentina, I feel so blessed to be back in my home. Yes, being a tourist in the country you were born, enjoying the extended family, the traditional foods, the old and new friends, a good asado (BBQ), hugging my dad, playing with my nephews and nieces, seeing my kids enjoying them as well and doing it all with an amazing group of Beth El families! All that is great, but nothing compares to the excitement I saw in my kids (and myself as well) when we arrived home. Their smiles, their running to get there as soon as possible, their feeling when their saw their beds, their things that made it home.

It is not a surprise then, that many (if not most) of the synagogues I know of have the word bait, home, in their name.

Why is this so?

Our forefathers are identified with different aspects of their lives. Abraham is identified with a mountain, there, in Mount Moriah where he offered Isaac in sacrifice. This is the climax of his devotion to God and therefore our tradition identifies Abraham with this mountain.

Isaac is identified with a field. We don’t know much about Isaac’s actions in comparison Abraham or with his son, Jacob. We know that he dug wells and he planted and harvested the fields; therefore he is identified with a field.

Our forefather Jacob built the House of Jacob. The Torah describes him as a person who loved to be in his house. He resists leaving his parents’ house and is “forced’ to leave. Later in his life, the sons of Jacob become known as Beit Israel, the house of Israel. As Jews, we are descendants of these 12 sons, making us directly connected with the house, or if you prefer, with the home.

That is why synagogues so often contain the name Bait. After the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jews around the world, our ancestors yearned to return to their home and built homes away from home. These homes were built with a purpose – with the hope that we would call them home and feel that they were our homes. Our ancestors wanted these “homes away from home” to be the place that we left and then, upon returning, felt so happy that we ran to find our things and were comforted, just as my children did this week.

I am so blessed to have a home that my family wants to return to. I am also blessed to have another Bait, Beth El to which my family also wants to return.

There’s nothing like being home.

I know that most of the time we take it for granted, but maybe today, when you arrive home, be thankful just for that, for being home.

PS: It should not be left unsaid that the trip to Argentina was remarkable! Our group of Beth El families had an extraordinary time seeing new sites, exploring Argentina, the country of my childhood, learning about life there, about Judaism and about a very different culture. I’ll save those stories for when I see you at Beth El, in the coming weeks!

Cataratas

Posted by Rabbi Fabián Werbin