Every time I arrive in a different country around the world, there’s always this oppressive feeling of foreigness, of being out of place.

This feeling diminishes according to the Jewish presence level in the place. When abroad, being surrounded by Jews makes me feel more relaxed, more at home.

I just read a story by a shaliach in Bangkok. He went to the local police station to help an Israeli who got ripped off by a fake jewelry salesman. After a while two Americans came in with the same problem. They had a local guide with them. The local guide asked why the Americans didn’t have a help center like the Israelis have (he was talking about the shaliach and the Chabad House). The police captain laughed.

He said, “the Israelis alway help out one of their own; if one gets arrested, ten will come to pay for his release. The Americans don’t do that. When I show a picture of an arrested American to other American travelers to pay for his release, they’d usually say that since they don’t know him, they won’t help”.

This story made me realize that I am living in a country where everyone’s your mishpacha, and when push comes to shove they will be there for you.

In the Tanya, the Alter Rebbe makes us realize that enjoying luxury while somewhere a Jew is starving, is out of the question. Similarly, in a sichah for this parasha, the Rebbe says that a Jew can never be truly happy while somewhere, a fellow Jew is in need.

Living in Israel, I am constantly reminded of that.