Once again, this summer, hundreds of new Olim have arrived (and will beH arrive) on group flights, charter flights and individual flights. The excitement with each arrival is palpable and, as someone who experienced this thrill seven years ago, I can say it is a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Many people watch streaming live video by Nefesh B’Nefesh as planeloads of new Olim arrive. Some are watching to see their friends come off the plane. Some watch because their family member is making Aliyah. Others watch for the feeling that they get watching all of these lives change before their very eyes.
And there is another category of people who sit opposite their computer screen watching: Those who wish to make Aliyah but feel they can not do it for various reasons. Before we made Aliyah, I firmly believed that Aliyah was for everyone. I no longer feel that way. I do believe it is for the vast majority of world Jewry, though. Below, I address various reasons given by people as to why they believe Aliyah won’t work for them, and my comments about each reason commonly given. (For marriages in which one spouse wants to make Aliyah and the other does not–an EXTREMELY common occurrence–I will address that in a future post beH)
Before addressing all of the various issues below, it is important to understand a fundamental issue: Is Aliyah a Mitzvah and assuming it is, what “form” of Mitzvah is it? While it is an entire “shiur” in itself, this post will work with the perspective that there is no doubt that there is a Mitzvah to make Aliyah. The only issue to “discuss” is whether this is a Mitzvah “Chiyuvit” or “Kiyumit.” The difference between these two types of Mitzvot is fairly simple to explain. A Mitzvah “Chiyuvit” is one that MUST be done. For example, a man must put on Tefillin. A Mitzvah “Kiyumit” is one that, upon meeting certain conditions, the Mitzvah kicks in. For example, one is not required to build a doorway in order to put up a mezuzah. However, once such a doorway does exist in the home, then a mezuzah must be placed there.
The question, therefore, that has been discussed is the status of Aliyah: Is one required to make Aliyah (Chiyuvit) or one is not required to, but if the individual moves to Israel then a Mitzvah (Kiyumit) is accomplished. For the record, a number of months ago, one of the greatest decisors of Halacha alive, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky שליט”א said it is a Mitzvah to make Aliyah. (The article I wrote can be seen here and the video can be seen here.) Again, in my humble opinion, after years of research and learning the subject, I see it is indeed a Mitzvah Chiyuvit, no different than Tefillin, Shabbat, eating Matza on the night of the Seder, etc.
With this background, we can now take a look at some of the reasons that are given for not making Aliyah and comments on those reasons.
In a very un-scientific poll conducted by me over the years, I believe that this is probably the Number One reason given for not wanting to make Aliyah. The statement usually goes:” Of course I would like to make Aliyah, but I need to make a living! How can I make a Parnassah in Israel?!”
There is no doubt that the salaries in Israel are FAR lower than those of chu”l. Having said that, two of the biggest costs that one incurs outside Israel that are supremely less in Israel are health insurance and education (especially Higher Education). In addition, there are some costs that are cheaper and, certainly, some that are greater. Once you realize that you are not in need of Parnassah that will be up to the needs of chu”l but to the needs of your life in Israel, the perspective begins to shift. Material items, that may seem critically important, tarnish when put into perspective of a life in Israel. Do people have trouble finding jobs? Certainly! Do people, in general find themselves employed after X amount of time? Definitely. In some cases, this is accomplished by reinventing one’s self. What you do now and the way you earn a living can either be adapted for Israel or you can seek out a new area altogether in which to grow and earn a living.
Parnassah is one of the most common items one davens for. Parnassah is an issue of Emunah in Hashem. As is crystal clear from Tefillat Chana , Parnassah is 100% in the hands of Hashem. Have you made inquiries? Have you looked into job opportunities in Israel? Have you thought of other ways to make a living? If you are willing to have Emunah in Chu”l that you can make a living, why can’t that Emunah be expressed in Israel, as well. Incidentally, statistically speaking, the majority of Olim arrive in Israel without a job. But, some do and some are fortunate enough to transfer their job to Israel. If you do not check; if you do not investigate, the answer will always be “no.” Just saying you won’t make Aliyah due to Parnassah issues is not a proper expression of Emunah.
Lack of Hebrew
Of all possible reasons given, this is perhaps the weakest one of all. First of all, NOT that I advocate this, but it is quite easy to navigate most days with only English. Besides, there are always friends, family, neighbors willing to help out in translation. Once you make Aliyah, you are entitled to five months of intense Ulpan. There are Youtube videos, books, etc to work on your language skills. If there is the slightest chance you will be making Aliyah, begin TODAY on Hebrew. It is the Number One most important skill you can bring with you. Think of your chosen profession: In that profession, you needed to learn the language of that job. The “job” here is the Mitzvah of Aliyah, and the language of Hebrew is the language of that Mitzvah. Resources are endless on this subject.
I Can’t Leave My Family
There is no doubt that Skype, Facetime and other modes of communication are no substitute for the real thing; nevertheless, the various means of connecting to someone outside of Israel are vast and modern. Today is much different than just ten years ago. Yes, you are potentially giving up many things; family smachot, as just one example. But do know that while it is cliche to say this, your neighbors, your community become your family. Besides, perhaps it is YOUR move that will spur others in your family to decide to make that move. You will be affecting the course of the future generations of your family. There are not many Mitzvot or decisions that can make that claim!
Really? Do you see what is happening around the world? Whether it is France, Germany, the USA, or many other countries, the world has become a much less safe place to be. And while security personnel always have the citizens’ best interest in mind, no where else on Earth is there a security network whose main purpose is to protect the Jewish people. Besides, that, we also see that countries all over the world, while vilifying Israel, acknowledge that Israel’s security systems are the tops in the world. Do you feel safe walking around your neighborhood at night? Do you feel a sense of personal security? I can just tell you from my own personal experiences, I have never felt safer as a Jew anywhere else, like I do in Israel.
“There is no customer service.” “People don’t say excuse me, when they bump into you.” “People drive too fast.” The list of Lashon Hara against the Land of Israel and against the People of Israel is worthy of a footnote to the Parasha of the Spies who spied out the Land. To choose to not keep a Mitzva because culturally it is not up to your needs is a very slippery slope down which to slide. Yes, indeed, the Middle East has different rules by which it plays. Yes, people can be more brusque than you may be used to. Yet, at the same time, we look at ourselves as one big family. Whether in the park, on the bus, in the Bet Knesset–anywhere–people are your FAMILY and you feel a part of something bigger. Part of living in Israel is getting used to a different culture, true. But that would be true if you moved to Ireland or Spain or Timbuktu. But only in Israel do you get a Mitzvah to live!
There are other very common reasons given for not making Aliyah, and this is not an exhaustive list, by any means. As I mentioned at the beginning, one of the other very common situations is when one spouse wants to move and the other does not. I hope to address that issue in an upcoming post.
In the meantime, here is a link you will find most helpful in your (potential) quest to fulfill the Mitzva of Aliyah.