Responses to Reasons to Not Make Aliyah

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.

Parnassah

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!

Safety

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.

Cultural Differences

“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.

 

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32 thoughts on “Responses to Reasons to Not Make Aliyah

  1. I have investigated aliyah seriously several times, but one issue you did not discuss is the army service requirement for boys. As parents, we have a mitzvah chiyuvit to raise our children to be shomrei Torah u’mitzvot. What is not a mitzvah chiyuvit is to place them under the control of a secular army culture, which at their most impressionable age will absolutely be spiritual sakana. I personally know good, frum families with sons who have gone OTD due to their army service. Others who made aliyah when their children were small now face this very real danger and admitted to me their fear and concern. The Haredi alternative of nonparticipation is also not viable for those families who want their children to integrate into Israeli society. What is even more troubling is that the Hesder yeshivos seem to relish combat unit enlistment. The Mechina programs give a one-year preparation course, then it’s off to secular army units for three years. Until the State figures out a socially acceptable solution, an alternative national service for men without stigma, as opposed to the current situation where the first question is “What unit did you serve in?”, it will be difficult for many frum families in the Diaspora to make that leap. We simply will not sacrifice our children’s neshamas for a secular army ideal–no matter how compelling the other advantages are to living in Israel.

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    1. I DO hear you and what you are saying. While I could make many comments, I will only make a couple. One is Netzach Yehuda. Are you familiar with that unit? If not, it is worth checking into it if the army is the reason for you to not make Aliyah. Secondly, many who read this blog (and many who don’t) have sons (and daughters, like my own!) who made it through the army and rather than go OTD became a shining example to others as to what a Dati soldier, citizen is. It was a Kiddush Hashem. Finally, I invite readers whose children went through the army to share their thoughts here as well. In life there are NO guarantees. But I can not think of too many mitzvot that are greater than protecting Am Yisrael. If everyone felt this way, there would be no Israel to defend.
      Thanks for the comments

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      1. My 2nd son served in Netzach Yehuda. My oldest, who is quite charedi, did regular army despite a Netzach recruiter coming to our home to speak to him. For any family frightened for their children’s neshama, this is not the place. He spent every other weekend off (once a month in his unit) at his yeshiva and the other at home. I have a different solution. Delay service just until after marriage and shana rishona. Spend that year learning. Not in a mechina which is meant to shore up kids who it is feared they are not spiritually strong, but in a good kollel.

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      2. Um…you wrote, “Not in a mechina which is meant to shore up kids who it is feared they are not spiritually strong, but in a good kollel.”

        Wow, I know you are trying to help but in reality, you are falling for the same assumptions and generalizations. Mechina is not meant to shore up kids who aren’t spiritually strong. It is meant as an alternative for a variety of reasons to Hesder learning. My oldest son has dyslexia and minor learning problems – he went to Hesder but found the learning more restrictive and channeled in one direction. It wasn’t for him – mechina offered more lectures and less chavrusa learning (at least that one) and he enjoyed the many shiurim, chose to go for a second year. Loved the Rabbaim, Rosh Yeshiva, etc.

        It isn’t fair to judge the spiritual strength of another Jew. Suffice it to say that the State of Israel offers many options for religious Jews to serve while maintaining their spirituality, their adherence to following the mitzvot and, if you can’t find ANY track that serves, there is always Sherut Leumi which can be done helping in a hospital, a children’s gan, etc. There is NO reason for ANY Jew not to serve this country in some meaningful way and there is no reason why fear for your children’s spirituality should keep you from making aliyah.

        Therefore, if you choose not to come live in Israel, instead of attacking Israel, just admit you don’t want to or can’t for personal reasons. We all have a choice to make. We all have to answer for those choices in this life and in the next. Try to do it without judging and insulting others (this is not meant for you, Mountain Dweller – I know you were trying to defend the ability to serve and be a strong Torah Jew…but in trying to explain, you are unfortunately and I’m sure unintentionally insulting many strong Torah Jews – including the ones who don’t go into Hesder or Mechina but go straight into the army and serve with honor, distinction, and perhaps most importantly, with emunah.

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    2. Sons who go off the derech is not because of army but because their charidei education is not giving them enough reasons to remain strong proud Jews.

      Serving in the army is a Mitzvah like many mitzvos in the torah, go learn Penini Halacha from Rav Eliezer Melamed he discusses this at great length.

      Hence a army that is fulfilling a huge mitzvah in the torah, cannot in any way shape or form be called a secular army!!! this is just a lame excuse out of fear of sending your kids in harm’s way (we would rather see “other” kids do it then our own kids, so we can calmly sleep through the night), I know its not an easy thing as parent to do, but its a lack of yiddishkeit, go see how holy Jewish kids dance when they sign up for army service, Hashem has commented us to have an army and protect ourselves, the torah has not expired or changed, we have not had this opportunity for almost 2000 years, to be in charge of protecting ourselves, at this point in history, we have to mature ourselves out of galus fear and limitations.

      and yes there are still many problems in the army and it would never be fixed by staying outside of the army, the more frum people join the army the easier and faster all the problems will be fixed.

      Personally I am of the opinion that the army should be a voluntary army but that is already a separate discussion.

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    3. Sorry, but some of the things you are saying are either just not true, or only partially true.

      Yes, there are boys who go into the army from religious homes and come out not religious. But for the most part, it is not the army the is making them not religious. Frankly, if you knew a group of religious boys going into the army, and you looked at them all, you could probably pick which ones will come out religious and which ones will not. It is not the army experience, but it is their experiences they had before hand. By the time they get to the army at age 18, 19 or 20, it is already too late for most of them. The ones with the stronger background will stay religious, and the ones who are weaker may not – with or without the army!!

      But I will say this if those young men who became not religious were living in the US, their would be a damn good chance they would be dating shicksas. Here in Israel, the worst that would happen is that they would be non-religious and married to a non-religious Jew.

      Meanwhile, what are the options for a religious soldier? A few go straight into the army right after high school. Many to Hesder – which is geared towards combat, but not exclusively. Many just learn in Yeshiva for a year or 2 (or 3 or 4) and THEN go into the army. Certainly those groups have less of a chance of becoming non-religious in the army. Then there is mechina, which is sort of a catch all phrase, but usually is a lighter version of Yeshiva. And then there is nachal chareidi.

      So if you are worried about your son going into the army and becoming not religious, here is my answer to you.

      1. Did you raise your son to be religious when surrounded by non-religious people, or can he only be religious when he is surrounded by religious people. In other worlds is peer pressure a bigger influence on him or is true yiraat shamayim a bigger influence on him?

      2. You have multiple options, such as Yeshiva deferrals, hesder and nachal chareidi, in order to make sure he is in a religious enough environment.

      And finally, there are more and more religious officers and soldiers dominating the army. It’s not the same kibbutznik left wing army of the 1950’s

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    4. Avi 6, absolute narishkeit!

      Of course some come out non-religious, but its not because of the IDF! From my 36 fort cousins + me and my brother, 15 have served in the IDF and everyone is religious, Shomer Shabbat…

      It’s 99% the home you come from and if you are afraid for your kids then you have serious thinking and adjustments to make about your home.

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  2. Avi – there are so many responses to what you wrote. Let me offer a few. First, to explain where I’m coming from, I made aliyah 23+ years ago with three small children (two boys) and had two more here (including a third boy).

    I have seen all three of my sons into the army – all into combat units. My youngest son is now in Givati. One went through the Mechina program, is now married to a wonderful young woman and the father of a most amazing little girl who helps me make challah almost every week. Another went through the Hesder program – both these sons were married by their Rosh Yeshiva, both frum. My third son is in Hesder with the most amazing Rav. Yesterday he came out of the army for five days and today on the way back from visiting his grandparents, he asked if we could stop by his yeshiva to see his Rav and some friends who are learning there.

    At this point, I’m not sure how to proceed in my response. Do I ask you why you think your children are more Jewish, more religious than mine when you are ignoring one of the major mitzvot in the Torah?

    Do I tell you how my son (the one who didn’t enter with the Hesder program) was asked if he would serve with women and when he said no, they honored that request. And then, months later when they assigned him to be a commander of an incoming unit and realized that there were women (after training him specifically for the role), they reassigned him to another location (and later let him choose what he wanted to do…with their sincere apologies)?

    Do I tell you about the Kiddush Hashem they do in showing that religious boys can be religious and still understand that we all must defend our country. Secular army? Really? Do you want to know why my son couldn’t get a pair of tzitzit from the army during the war he was sent to fight? Because after the secular boys rushed to take, there were none left for the religious boys. Secular army?

    Should I tell you about my son-in-law’s special program for Haredim – that sent him home every weekend to his wife, my daughter? That made sure he had kosher food? Shiurim on base? And never a female officer assigned to their unit?

    Should I tell you about the miracles God has performed for this secular army you dismiss so easily as not good enough to have your sons risk being tainted? There are many boys – religious and secular – who believe the Rachel Imaynu came and saved them during the war in Gaza by taking them out of a maze to safety. There are secular soldiers who watched a missile that was going to hit the Azrieli Towers veer off INTO the wind and knew at that moment, the glory and the Hand of Hashem.

    Secular army? You risk your children’s neshamot in galus rather than bring them home and you wonder about my children?

    My oldest grandchild is 5 years old. I will put what that child, the son and grandson of two amazing and righteous men…both of whom served in the army, knows about the Torah against your 5 year old grandchild or any grandchild in America because week after week, he doesn’t just learn the mitzvot, he lives them. When he was two years old, on Friday nights he went around blessing our family, putting his little hand on our heads and mumbling words and then saying proudly, “Amen”.

    “We simply will not sacrifice our children’s neshamas for a secular army ideal–no matter how compelling the other advantages are to living in Israel,” you write. Okay, I wish you well in galut and I sincerely hope, for your sake, that when Moshiach comes and asks how it is possible that you didn’t greet him in Eretz Yisrael, you’ll have a better answer than suggesting you were afraid of a secular army.

    Secular army…wow.

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    1. Thank you Paula for this reply. As a father of a daughter who went into the army, my experience was not the same as sending SONS, which was this commentor’s statement. I not only read and agree with your sentiments, I SEE this in your family.

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  3. Great article!

    I just want to add about Safety

    In EY a believing Jew needs to technically feel much safer, if he/she doesn’t then the weak point is there emunah. how do I know? look in the torah
    אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר ה’ אֱלֹקיךָ דֹּרֵשׁ אֹתָהּ תָּמִיד עֵינֵי ה’ אֱלֹקיךָ בָּהּ מֵרֵשִׁית הַשָּׁנָה וְעַד אַחֲרִית שָׁנָה
    דברים יא יב
    A land the Lord, your God, looks after; the eyes of Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

    Did you hear? the eyes of Lord your God are always upon it
    That is maximum 24/7 CCTV Security Cameras provided by non other then God himself
    How much secure does it get?!

    When a Jew really believes with every bone of their being, then the Jew feels safer in EY like in no other place on the planet.

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  4. I consider myself politically and socially left-leaning (as well as egalitarian religious), and am seriously concerned about the violence and death threats that self-identifying leftist Jews, and progressive schools and organizations in Israel have been experiencing over the past few years. Regardless of one’s political or social views, death threats and violence against them are never justified. As a non-confrontational but outspoken and active leftist, I fear for my personal safety (as well as the safety of my future family) if I were to make aliyah and the social climate does not improve.

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    1. That is a very silly argument, Israel is perhaps the most liberal anti right wing place on earth, left wing protesters can get away with anything and examples are without end.

      When a left wing protest breaks out to trade Gilad Shalot for untold number of murderers and they illegally block the Ayalon Tel Aviv highway not do the police allow it, but they joined them! Soldiers from the Keriyah army headquarters also joined (illegal as well) and not one soldier was punished and the media lauds it all!

      Now whe right ring protestors try to block a road they are immediately branded extremists and the police go in and littterally smash heads.

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  5. Malka,

    I have many friends who live here who are egalitarian, socially left wing leaning, etc….I have no idea what you are talking about and I would venture to guess that they don’t either. If your reason for not making aliyah is that you fear for your personal safety, I would question whether you’ve actually ever visited Israel or have any sense of what it is like here. Most of the Israeli media is left-leaning to say the least. If Gideon Levy of Haaretz can live here and not be hurt, I have no clue why you think you’d be in any danger. Did you happen to hear about the recent gay parade we had here in Jerusalem recently? All those people walked through what is arguably the most religious city in Israel…and were joined by many religious, left and right wing people.

    I fear that what is happening here is not really actual fear on your part that prevents you from making aliyah but rather a need to justify your decision not to live here with somewhat ridiculous excuses that have absolutely no basis in reality and truly constitutes a blood libel against Israel and Israelis.

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  6. I expected passionate responses to my comments, but let’s stick to the point of Rav Zev’s thoughtful article, which was the considerations people have when contemplating aliyah. The State of Israel is intensely polarized, a fact I learned 20+ years ago when I was there for about a year. This was a personal challenge, I simply did not fit in to either religious group. Rav Zev astutely notes that certain mindsets just don’t fit in Israel. So one has to choose a side in order to integrate. Not much has changed.
    Yoel – The families I know are dati-leumi, have a passion for aliyah, and integrated much better than I would. Their experience was not a result of Hareidi schooling.
    Rav Melamed is a great talmid chacham, I read excerpts from Peninei Halacha almost every day. But he has particular political views not shared by many other poskim.
    The mandate that everyone needs to go to the Army came from a secular source, being that the State was established largely by secular Jews. (A similar mandate in Russia was the reason my ancestors left there). It is clearly required for social entry into Israeli society–which is still majority secular. Yes there are religious accommodations, but at its heart the power structure of the Army and government is not religious. (Please tell me which major poskim are making the main structure, battle, and go/no-go -literally life and death decisions – in the Army). True, I do not share the messianic vision of the secular State, although I recognize that some do and have על מי לסמוך. Yes it is a mitzvah to defend the State and soldiers who fall in battle R”L do so על קידוש השם. Yes it is a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisrael, but it is not the only mitzvah. And we are ALL still in galut, without a Beit HaMikdash.
    To come back to the initial point, which was “reasons for not going on aliyah,” for some who have made the leap, they absolutely cannot understand anyone who has not. Others like myself, who have considered the benefits and risks, and its full implications, and consulted poskim who know their families and situation, should not be denigrated for making the decision not to. I appreciate Rav Zev introducing these issues to the public and look forward to a more dispassionate analysis of the considerations.

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    1. Presumably, you live a cloistered life, in which your precious sons and daughters need confront no outside authority figure–only your Rebbe–who I guess you wouldn’t consider ‘outside’?

      I’m sure that’s not the case. So, why the distinction here? Yes–the majority of our founders were secular. But I invite you to review the list of signators to our Declaration of Independence
      http://israelforever.org/state/signatories_israel_declaration_independence/ where you’ll see that FOUR of the signators were Rabbis. And no–none of them were Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist. You would probably also find that a good number of other signators without the rabbinic title were frum, observant Jews.

      I strongly object to your analogy to Czarist Russia. Israel is defined in the a/m Declaration as a JEWISH state in the Land of Israel. We are the only democracy in the Middle East, and the ONLY Jewish country anywhere in this world. When all hell breaks loose where you live–as it is in much of Europe as we speak–where will you run? What country would have you? There’s only one answer: ISRAEL.

      There has NEVER been a government in Israel without religious representation. Sometimes, there are fewer parties represented, and sometimes more–but the religious establishment has ALWAYS been represented.

      In the early years of the IDF, the vast majority of the command structure and mid-level officers were kibbutznikim–almost by-definition, secular. Today–the vast majority of officers and NCOs–especially those in combat units–are kippa-sruga Modern Orthodox Jews, who are prepared to fight, and die if necessary, to protect THEIR families and friends living in THEIR country. Are your precious sons and daughters more holy than they are? Is your children’s blood more-sacred than theirs?

      Your position will find support in Meah Shearim–whose residents won’t hesitate to seek protection by our army and police in times of war and civil unrest–so that many can hunch over their sacred books in study.

      So, I totally dismiss your premise. Come over and join us–because you WANT to; not because you have nowhere else to run.

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    2. Let me try this another way. Are you the same now as you were 20 years ago? I assume in all that time, your life has developed, you’ve added new thoughts, new experiences. Well, so has Israel. If you are judging Israel by the way it was 20 years ago when you spent a year here, presumably as a student, I…I….well, I’m kind of speechless.

      I have lived in Israel for over 20 years ago. The country that I came to has many similarities to the one in which I live in today. Yes, it is predominantly what you would call “secular” – and yet…and yet, the delivery boy here is likely to kiss the mezuzah when he leaves your home. Is that really your definition of secular? The waiter will look at a pregnant woman and apologize for not having the item she has ordered, then mumble something about going to check again with the chef because it’s very important for a pregnant woman to have what she asks for…is that secular? (oh, and that one happened to me 17 years ago in the land you’ve basically dismissed).

      I have no problem with you saying that you don’t want to make aliyah, that Israel isn’t for you. What bothers me are the lengths to which you attempt to malign this country and its adherence to mitzvot rather than just admit that either you aren’t willing to risk trying, or you have come up with some understanding of the Torah that enables you to justify not living here when the clear understanding of the rest of us is that this is where Hashem wants us to live.

      You live in a secular country right now…but aside from that.

      If you feel strongly that your children would be poisoned by the very air in this country and that if they would be drafted, they would most definitely take off their kippot and start dancing disco on Shabbat, then you might be correct in skipping on one of the most important mitzvot in the Torah. Of course, as a Torah-observant Jew (or at least one who tries to be and davens that Hashem will forgive my many shortcomings), I’m just thankful that when my personal Yom HaDin comes, I don’t have to stand before Hashem and attempt to explain myself without incorrectly pointing to hundreds of thousands of other Jews and attempting to show that I’m somehow better than them.

      Avi6 – the mandate that everyone goes to the army doesn’t exist, never mind your claim that it came from a secular state. Fact is, everyone doesn’t go to the army. Yes, the bulk of our sons do – and, the bulk of the ones who go in religious come out religious and more, strengthened with a deep sense of understanding. Hashem clearly ordered the men of this land to defend it.

      I won’t go into the Halachot as to why Hashem has commanded us to live in this land. I will say that since you clearly live in a secular country which can and does govern how you live, I am utterly bewildered at the concept that you could compare Israel to Czarist Russia. We have a draft because we are at war, and have been for all of Israel’s reborn existence. The army has divisions where the food is not only kosher, but mehadrin kosher to a very high level. Further, for those who absolutely refuse to serve, there are other options – for example, Sherut Leumi. Yes, mostly religious girls choose this route – my oldest daughter “served” this country in a Haredi gan for children with developmental problems.

      I have dozens of Haredi relatives who do not serve in the army and yes, I believe they’ll have their own reckoning with Hashem, as will you and as will I. What I find astounding is how you somehow sit back while dozens of very frum families are making aliyah (and yes, they have sons) and while hundreds of thousands of very frum Jews live here and would never think of leaving…and guess what, their children are very learned, very righteous, etc.

      And I’ll tell you one more thing – a child is going to be and do what it will do. It is the parent’s job to show them the way, give them the environment in which to grow…but ultimately, there is no guarantee. I know ultra-Orthodox children who have gone “off the derech” and it had nothing to do with the army or Israeli society.

      I won’t judge you by who you were 20 years ago. Please don’t judge me or my country by what is, without doubt, outdated and inaccurate opinions. Further, come on aliyah or don’t. The loss, more than anything else, is yours and your children’s. Are we all in Galut? Yes, we are. But somehow, someway, without question, Eretz Yisrael is closer to where Hashem wants us to be when Moshiach comes.

      If you don’t have the courage to come, I offer yo my sympathy.

      If you choose to judge us and find us faulty rather than come here, I offer you compassion. It is Hashem’s place to judge the lives we live, the work we do here, the love we have for what He has given us. There are no perfect people and no perfect children. There is no guarantee in life that our children will be frum. I know a woman who didn’t want her children to serve in Israel and so at a very young age, she took them back to America. Her son was killed in a car accident in California.

      The most Torah observant Jews I know – are those who serve because Am Yisrael without Eretz Yisrael is as empty and missing as Eretz Yisrael without Am Yisrael would be. Do what you want – but as I told 3 crying teenagers sitting in a hotel one Friday night who were mourning that soon they would be returning home after their year in Seminary…Israel will be here whenever you are ready to come. We are strong. Strong physically because of the army you so readily dismiss as treif, strong culturally because even in those treif, secular schools that are so beneath you, our children learn Torah and Jewish history and our reasons for living in this land, and even as strong Torah observant Jews because it is here that Hashem wants us to fulfill His mitzvot and it is ONLY here that we can fulfill the greatest number.

      This is not the first time Jews were fainthearted in fulfilling Hashem’s commandments. The sad part is rather than admit it, now Jews seek to belittle other Jews. Israel isn’t for you? That’s fine. Honestly. I can only hope that when Moshiach comes (and here in Israel we feel this every day coming so very close), I can only hope you and your children aren’t among the 80% that are likely to be left behind again.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Avi, as a religious Jew in the United States, statistically speaking, one of your 5 kids will become not religious. Against, statistically speaking, one or both of that non-religious child’s children (your grandchildren) will marry goyim. And that is without the dreaded Israeli Army.

      Now as a religious Jew in Israel, you have the same chances of one of your 5 children not being religious. But again, statistically speaking, he and his children (your grandchildren) will marry Jews. NONE OF THEM, will belong to Reform of Conservative shuls.

      Your chiloni grandchildren in Israel will probably have kosher homes, build sukkas, maybe even hear megilla on purim, as opposed to your reform grandchildren in America who will be eating chazir before they drive to shul for Kol Nidre with their shiksa girlfriends

      Your chiloni grandchildren in Israel will light chanukah candles, wish each other shabbat shalom, work for a company that is closed on shabbat, and will be able to quote mishna and maybe even a line or 2 from Rebbe Nachman, while your Reform grandchildren in America will have a christmass tree, work every other Saturday (what’s shabbat?) and know who sat at the last supper with Jes*s

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Let’s see…in just a few days I have been pitied, accused of attacking Israel, blamed for having no courage or faith, creating a blood libel, identifying with Meah Shearim hashkafos, and “bentched” to have non-Jewish descendants. Amazing! And this is towards someone who actually *seriously considered* aliyah, met with NBN, has been to Israel numerous times, and thought it was a good idea! What do we call that…the welcoming committee?

    My personal experiences are not the same as yours. You do not walk in my shoes, you do not have the same family situation or challenges. For someone who seeks to be an active participant in Israeli society, there are many benefits to aliyah, and many risks as well (besides those mentioned). Would you fire off the same invective at Rav Y.B. Soleveitchik, Rav Moshe, or the entire Yeshiva University in New York as you leveled at me?

    If fully analyzing major life decisions, consulting numerous similar people who went through whatever is planned, and taking advice from rabbonim (which is exactly what happened in my aliyah quest) is not how you guide your family, then you’re right, we really don’t have anything in common other than some Jewish DNA. One recommendation – if you want people to consider aliyah, be understanding and accepting of everyone, no matter what decision they ultimately make. At the very least, their tax and tzedakah dollars are helping Israel, while they toil in chutz la’aretz until aliyah becomes possible for them or their children.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Avi6–

      You made statements that were totally in error, to the point of being offensive–chiefly, the analogy of Israel’s army to that of the Czar.

      If you feel you’re being discouraged from making aliyah, maybe you never seriously meant to in the first place. Meetings with NbN mean nothing. Nor do questions over whether to buy a new fridge there or here. When I made aliyah over 39 years ago, people sat for years deliberating that critical dilemma; some probably still are.

      It was you who raised the issue of military service for your children. IMHO, the US made a huge mistake a few decades ago by cancelling the draft there. There has been talk of doing so here too, with lots of opposition from all sides of the spectrum. What’s wrong with your children serving their country? And if not in uniform, there are MANY ways of doing so here–various forms of ‘sherut leumi’ which help our people in all kinds of ways. Your sons (and your daughters IF YOU ALLOW THEM) can continue to study and learn Yiddishkeit–AND they can serve their people.

      If, on the other hand, you wish only to receive but not to give–if you expect us inferiors in one way or another to spread the red carpet for you–Israel is NOT for you. We’ve muddled through for 68+ years without you, I guess we’ll manage a bit longer.

      Like

    2. I am very understanding, but your IDF argument lacked any bases what so ever!
      Over 35% of officers are religious as are 50% of commanders and the majority of soldiers in Golani are religious. There are multiple charedi tracks in every segment of the army (Air Force, navy, ground forces, intelligence) – 10-15 years the army will almost be run by Halacha 🙂

      So don’t worry, come make Aliyah! Many challenges, but worth it!

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Hi Avi6,

      Allow me to try one more time but first, again, I’d like to explain something. I, and probably most of the other commentators here, are very active in the aliyah scene and helping olim. For example, I furnished an apartment for new olim with mattresses, table and chairs, dishes, food, bedding, etc. to give them and their children the soft landing I never had. I have greeted friends at the airport, Much of my business is geared to retraining olim so that they can find work and OMG, they have. Dozens are working in Israel now because my company gave them the training, I found them jobs, I talked them into companies by assuring my friends that this person was worth taking a chance.

      No one here wishes you anything but the best but thousands of people are coming every year to live here and many, many of them are religious. You insult each and every one of them, and all of those of us who love our children just as much as you love yours, who want our children to grow and be Torah-observant Jews.

      I recommend you read YOUR posts again and see how really insulting they are…as if anyone who seriously cares about having frum children logically would not make aliyah. You know what? I think if someone wants their children to remain religious, they should hesitate to sent them for that token year or two after high school. Because if you would see what these kids do when they get away from their parents, you’d be shocked.

      It is so unbelievable that Israeli high schools go out of their way to avoid putting their boys in contact with American and English kids during that year. Will you blame Israeli society for that too? Or will you correctly blame the parents for how they ship their kids off at a time when maybe they aren’t ready for that sudden burst of independence.

      Fact is, your “seriously considering” aliyah is great. Tell me, when you speak to rabbis, are these rabbis who have also chosen to live in America and judge Israeli society from there? Rav Shandalov is an American (now Israeli) rabbi who moved here after leading an American congregation for many years.

      I see that you consulted people who went through what you’re planning…tell me, are these people who failed to come, failed to make it here and returned, or people who are thriving here and wonder what took them so long?

      We accept whatever decision you make, in that, you are wrong. What we don’t accept is the suggestion that it is the right decision for anyone else but you. You are correct, We all have personal experiences that shape not only our lives but our chances for changing, our ability to make it in Israel. There are many who fail in aliyah and the chief reason they fail is not for economic or religious reasons.

      Almost all of the ones that I know who failed, did so because really then never really moved here. They left one foot there in one form or another, or, worse, they came, but waited too long to come and so their children couldn’t manage the shift at such a critical time in their lives and so the children went to what they considered “home” and soon the parents followed.

      As for your tax dollars – that is a typical American Jewish comment that bothers us in Israel. I promise you, America benefits from Israel just as much as Israel benefits from America.

      Tzedukah? Please do me a favor – tell ALL the American charities donating to Israel to stop. We’ll take care of our own. You take that money and spend it on Jewish education and trying to stop the overwhelming tide of assimilation that has engulfed American Jewry. My husband was from Boro Park, so you can figure out his hashkafah, I come from a non-religious family and almost 75% of my cousins intermarried. I was the only one out of 12 cousins who ended up frum.

      Would I say all of this to Rav Soleveitchic, Rav Moshe, etc. Yes, I honestly would, but I would do more. I would tell them that they do not serve their communities by not following in Rav Shandalov’s footsteps. The time for American Jewry is fading; the need for it long gone.

      As I started and always planned on raising my children to love Israel and Hashem and Torah, I realized that if I succeeded, I was setting myself up for heartache. There are few things harder for a parent than living thousands of miles away from your children and grandchildren. I am so so blessed, (bli ayin hara and Baruch Hashem), I have three married children and all my grandchildren living very close to me (all within walking distance on Shabbat).

      I don’t know if you’ll ever make aliyah…because yes, it takes so much courage and so much faith. I daven that you will find both. But more, I wish and daven that your children, at least, will come home and in that, I apologize because that will cause you pain. I understood that this is what I wanted for my children and so I took action when they were very small so that I would not have to face, God forbid, those thousands of miles of distance between us.

      שבו בנים לגבולם – and the sons will return to the borders….I hope you will and yes, please feel free to contact me if you want to come. I’ll be happy to help in any way I can, because yes, I do believe there is no where better or safer for Jews – for their bodies, for their neshamot, for their children.

      Liked by 2 people

    4. ‘ “bentched” to have non-Jewish descendants.’ No you have not been bentched, but you have been warned.

      “Would you fire off the same invective at Rav Y.B. Soleveitchik, Rav Moshe, or the entire Yeshiva University in New York as you leveled at me?” Given the opportunity, yes I would. Why? Two reasons.

      1. The plague of intermarriage is only getting worse.

      Speaking about the YU community, a large portion of it is moving to the left. Recent history has shown us, that the left wing movements in the American Jewish Community are more susceptible to intermarriage than the right. Thus, the YU community will become more affected by intermarriage. Sounds hard to believe, but it already exists. One of my childhood friends (the “frummest” kid in the class) went to YU, and married a shiksa at age 19. And this was over 25 years ago. It’s worse now.

      Then there are the children of YU graduates, or even more black hat Jews who go “off the derech”. These children are now part of American Jewry’s non-Orthodox population, where over 70% intermarry. In other words, if you have a kid who is not religious, chances are his kids will marry goyim. (And if you have 5 or more kids, chances are one of them will not be religious)

      The plague of intermarriage effects everyone in the Jewish community. I went to college with a goyishe descendant of the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe. If it can effect the Lubavitcher Rebbe, it can effect you and me.

      2. The Mitzvot you can do in the Land of Israel. You mentioned that living in Israel is just one Mitzvah. And sure, when I woke up this morning, scrambled my way to my bathroom, which happens to be more than four amot from my bed, I fulfilled a mitzva (and then I fulfilled another mitzvah when I crawled back into bed). But there is much more.

      I have 3 fruit trees in my little yard. All sorts of mitzvot come with that. Truma, ma’aser. I dealt with Orlah. You don’t get to do that in Brooklyn! Last year was Shmitta. Did you get to observe the mitzvot of shmitta in Brooklyn? Did you eat fruits with Kdushat Shvi’it?

      Of course, 3 times a year, I make Aliyah l’regel.

      So we have all these extra mitzvot we can do. Wouldn’t a Torah Jew wouldn’t want to do more mitzvot given the opportunity? And as an added bonus, keep their children away from the added dangers of intermarriage and assimilation into gentile society?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Donny you know its funny you mention all the extra mitzvot of Eretz Yisrael. When I was young student in America, one day I was “caught” not wearing tzitzit by one the Rabbayim in my school. He scolded me for not fulfilling the mitzvah of tzitzit.

        I argued back that he should not be so concerned and he asked me why? I replied that tzitzit is only a Mitzvah Kiyumit and since he was not living in Eretz Yisrael, which is also according to some poskim a mitzvha kiyumit, he had no right to judged me for which mitzvot kiyumit I decide to perform or not.

        That rebbe walked away for upset at me, but my point came across loud and clear.

        Like

  8. What about those of us who desperately want to come home but can’t because we’ll never be able to support ourselves? My partner and I are both disabled/chronically ill and unable to work. Currently we live in poverty in the UK, where it is less and less safe to be a Jew, especially an Israeli-identifying Jew as I am. In addition to my overwhelming love for Israel, where I lived as a child, there is the sharply increasing sense that I *need* to leave the UK – my whole family are making plans to leave, though they’re all looking at Canada and I’m the only one whose aim is to return home. It’s a scary situation; if I were healthy enough to work I’d have been in Israel long since, but I’m trapped here.

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