This brief essay, the second installation in the miniseries, “Grateful to be a Yid,” explores some reasons for moving to Israel.
Some persons fail to share my excitement over making aliyah, wanting to spend their leisure time, instead, lounging in hot tubs or being doted upon by manicurists, per se. Those individuals belong to the entitlement coalition, whether they can afford their dreams or not.
In contrast, there exist men and women who are far more forthright than are my family and I. Unlike us, these persons did not wait until they were aided by Our Boss, by Hashem’s agents, as manifested in social organizations that assist olim financially and psychologically, and by work opportunities. Rather, this class of folk, this highest stratum of settlers, boarded planes, or, in earlier times, boats, or, more devotedly, came to the Holy Land by foot, trusting that their hardships would be shared with our Creator and that such a partnership could only bring them success as Israelis.
No matter the resistance or faith, the compromises in willingness or the unadulterated actualizations of trust, Jews have longed to come home for as long as there has been a home to which to return. In contemporary times, this yearning has ingathered the tribes, B”H, from all over the world.
My family joined this assembling of Jewish souls. Israel is home. It is an amazing, personal mitzvah to dwell here. It is an obligation, for each of us, not to forget the land or its capitol, Jerusalem.
As per my family’s circumstances, like most families, we had experienced life and death situations, including the loss of: a parent, pregnancies, and various aspects of permanent wellness. What’s more, we’d observed an array of financial goings on. We had been intimate with both literal millionaires and with financially impoverished sorts and had seen, consequently, that being moneyed, i.e. that achieving or maintaining industrial nation levels of material comfort, while useful, neither answered or will ever provide solutions to all of one’s needs. Money also fails to grant meaning to living.
In balance, my family continues to benefit from the extensive, rigorous secular education we received in Hutz l’aretz. Yet, just as we hold fiduciary health dear, but not preeminent, we regard worldly schooling as far from life’s paramount feature. Degrees, like pedigrees, or even pedicures, are insignificant in the final tally. We do not get measured by what we produced, who we knew, or the number of strobes in our particular bank of spotlights. Instead, our worth is weighed by the manner in which, i.e. by the codes of conduct by which, we lived.
Further, as expressed elsewhere in this blog, even if we morphed into increasingly spiritual beings, that sort of alteration, too, would be insufficient. It’s no good to try to rest on crowns built of imagined moral successes. Sweat equity, in the personal growth department, is the goal.
For instance, while it is nice that my husband and I became fully shomer mitzvot at the youthful age of forty, and while it is nice that we lost no time immersing ourselves “in the life” or in enrolling our children in Torah academies, these changes could never have been enough growth. Specifically, striving to live as devout Jews remains a shift that is closer to nothing than to something when such reaching forward lacks an accompanying resolve to try to live dutifully. Settling Israel is one of the Jewish People’s chief duties.
When a passage was opened for my family to enter the Holy Land and we were asked if we wanted to travel through it, there was only one correct answer; yes!!!!!!!! Our aliyah was easier than that of most olim of centuries past, but not necessarily as easy as the experiences of some modern day immigrants. Regardless, it was my family’s stepping up; it was just as it was supposed to be.
Life is not about fancy things, although we are obliged to take care of our goofim, our bodies, as well as of our neshemot, our souls. Life is not about being important, although Jews conclude Grace after Meals with a mention that that people who make a point to walk the walk are not abandoned by Hashem even when powerful beasts are starving.
Life is about connecting our respective little pieces of earth to the heavens and doing so joyfully. Aliyah is a very significant way in which we attach the mundane to the sacred.
My husband and I ran to plant our little trees, our children, and ourselves into this holy soil. That act was part of our histadlut. In hindsight, as in vision, it has been far better to live as Israelis than merely to write about how wonderful such a life could be.
There can be no rational argument, discussion, or deconstruction about whether or not a Jew, a family of Jews, or a community of Jews ought to move to this island of holiness. There is no other place, except home, for us to live. Forget the pro and con lists. Give up trying to control preordained resolutions for income, for family size, and for professional accomplishment. Let Hashem run the universe. Your job is to get your suitcases packed.
The subsequent essays in this series, grateful to be a Yid, will consist of: “It would have been Enough,” “Self-Improvement,” “Dropouts” and “Neither Location nor Hashgafa.” Stay tuned.
* A similarly themed essay, which I wrote, “Aliyah Anniversary Special,” was published in The Jerusalem Post’s “Old/New World Discourse,” on August 6, 2008.