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This Shabbos will mark one year from the start of the Russian-Ukranian war. A week before the start of the war, the Rishon L'Tzion (Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel) Rav Yitzchak Yosef wrote an official letter addressed to Jews in Chutz L'Aretz. Now a year out, it is worthwhile to revisit his words as his message has only become more relevant with the passage of time.


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To our dear and beloved Jewish brothers living in foreign lands, especially Ukraine: During these times, when the sounds of war are heard, it’s appropriate for every Jew with yirat Shamayim (fear of heaven) to hasten his way to Holy Land, as promised by the prophet Ovadia (1:17):

וּבְהַר צִיּוֹן תִּהְיֶה פְלֵיטָה וְהָיָה קֹדֶש

(On Mount Zion there will be refuge, and it will be holy)

. . .[A]scending to the Holy Land is always a very great and important mitzvah, and at all times we must strive to reach the Holy Land and especially the holy city of Jerusalem. And now that there are sounds and fears of war, the issues are unfolding in a way as to see it as a type of call from Shamayim to ascend to the Holy Land from all the foreign lands in the entire Diaspora, and especially to the holy city of Jerusalem, because these are the places where the Divine Presence rests, and they have more protection. . .

[T]here is a sacred obligation on each and every Jew who has fear of Heaven in all the lands of the Diaspora to make every effort to hurry and hasten his footsteps to Eretz Yisrael, and to make aliyah quickly to our Holy Land, and not to delay at all. . . And Hashem, May He be blessed who feeds and sustains everyone, will, with heavenly assistance, provide everyone with a good place to live, and food and adequate income.

With the blessing of the Torah,

Yitzchak Yosef

Rishon L'Tzion

Chief Rabbi of Israel

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The original letter in Hebrew can be seen below.


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