For the last one hundred and fifty years, the return to the Land of Israel and the beginning of the revival of the Land of Israel has been gaining steam. It may seem today like this has always been the case and that the last 100+ years have not been so cataclysmic. But on a historical level, what is going on today is absolutely miraculous and is happening at lightning speed.
There were always a trickle of Jews returning to their indigenous homeland over the last 2,000 years. But it was rarely more than a few families or less who made the treacherous trip in order to arrive at a hostile area that was dominated by unfriendly rulers. Additionally, the Land was nearly impossible to work on and making a livelihood was extremely challenging.
This began to change in the early part of the 19th century. Some may argue that it even began towards the end of the 18th century. But, even then, the religious Jewish groups that came on Aliyah numbered in the tens of people, not hundreds. The 1880’s saw the first large wave of return – mainly from Russia. The Czars in Russia either turned a blind eye or actually incited pogroms against the Jewish people. Tens of cities and villages in what was called the Pale of Settlement experienced pogroms in the 30 years before World War I. In these pogroms, tens or even hundreds of Jews were killed, kicked out of their neighborhoods, and/or lost their livelihood.
This led most Jews to decide that they simply could not continue with life as usual. The largest group decided to do whatever they could to emigrate to the West – especially the United States of America. Smaller groups became activists who planned to bring down the Russian Czar via a revolution. They became activists and leaders in the Communist movement. They numbered in the tens of thousands. An even smaller group became Zionists and strived to reestablish a homeland for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. They were often viewed as the unrealistic yet idealistic dreamers.
From the 1-2 million Jews who moved to America before World War I, there should have been more than 20 million Jews today. But widespread assimilation has led to the numbers remaining little more than 5 or 6 million. There are still Communist Jews today in the Soviet Union. But Communism has not been gaining popularity over the last 30-40 years ever since it has been proven to be a corrupt system to the core.
But the tens of thousands of Jews who became 50-100,000 Jews who emigrated to Israel and made Aliyah before World War I have reshaped world history forever. They shaped the leadership of the pre-State of Israel for the 30-40 years and then led the State of Israel for it’s first 30-40 years. Only when Menachem Begin was elected in 1977 would the pendulum switch to a different kind of leadership. Today, more than 7 million Jews live in the Land of Israel and all demographers estimate that Israel will have more than 10 million Jews in the coming decade or two. The return is here to stay.
Is this the beginning of the redemption?