Is it possible to Google ‘Making Aliyah’ and really finding the answers to what’s in your mind? I remember when I first used that search term, in the early days of Google, a long long time ago! In some ways it felt a little like trying to communicate with G-d using a pair of dice. I had no idea what to expect, nor from whom. My mind was like an empty vessel, what I was really searching for was the very tools to help me refine an inner search. After all, isn’t making Aliyah all about ascending to a higher level of existence in the first place? Accordingly, I needed to acknowledge my humble starting place from where I would begin such a journey.
That starting place was a somewhat even more difficult location to identify. The Jewish Diaspora can conjure up all sorts of wild notions ranging from a benign haven, to an ever present and growing threat. I had to acknowledge that to varying degrees both concepts held a modicum of truth. I felt the answer laid somewhere in the middle. After all, a softer existence anywhere that provides all the trappings of comfort, can be a hard habit to break. Yet, I discovered a high price to pay for every day of imagined bliss in what I mistook for Utopia. A closer examination of local attitudes served to confirm an unescapable truth. Jews are guests in an adopted land, and sometimes even unwelcome ones. How many Jews living in the Diaspora actually bother to take into consideration local feelings of animosity towards Jews living in their midst? It was far easier to cry foul, and place such attitudes on blatant Anti-Semitism. But does that really get to the heart of the matter. As we find a cluster of other Jews, or local citizens that we have quietly learnt to blend in with, does that genuinely lead us to feeling completely at home?
At this point it is quite correct to bring Israel into the equation. Of course there is extreme hatred towards Jews living in Israel. However, there is a fundamental difference at play. Here we know where we belong, while in the Diaspora we can only play games in pretending that’s the case.
So making Aliyah on a fundamental level can be a task of asserting ones’ right to ascend to a place of true belonging. Yes, Jews in Israel are certainly more assertive about matters pertaining to one’s basic rights of survival in one particular country. It goes beyond a herding instinct of safety in numbers. There is such an underlying sense of belonging to a homeland, that one can only gasp in amazement as to exactly how any Jew can feel even something close to that sensation elsewhere. Here it is body and soul, and extends beyond a survival instinct in matters concerning survival on a comfort level.
Everyone should carefully consider economic survival and questions of providing for one’s family anywhere in the world. Only in Israel, failure to reach a basic level of income is a far more serious issue. Going down is the exact opposite of making Aliyah, and should be avoided. However, there is also a self defeatist element at play that thrives on negativity in the Jewish Homeland, and needs to be guarded against at all times. That’s not to say that one should neglect such matters of extreme importance, but only to place it in better perspective. A Jew living in Israel is akin to a marriage. The land of Israel is a partner to every Jew, and the universal marriage maxim of ‘for better or worse’ also applies to living in Israel. This involves adopting a positive attitude at the very beginning of tying the knot with Israel.
Therefore, making Aliyah is a lofty enterprise and should be undertaken with the same type of commitment as betrothal. In both cases, we ascend through the hallway of a higher divine presence. In Israel, one needs to have faith in G-d to provide for one’s needs. Just like a lack of rain that requires G-d fearing men to fast and pray for water, so there is a need to constantly check in with the one above in times of hardship. The amazing thing is that it can actually work!
This leads to the fundamental question of what we are even doing in the Diaspora in the first place? Well look at the Bible, or even decent history books. Many were displaced from our homeland for insufficient lack of faith in the first place. We have to face the harsh reality that the Diaspora is not our original homeland, and that we are still faced with tests that requires an inner search to help us to rise above them.
Israel is the Jewish Homeland and we have to learn how to make the best of it. If times are hard we need to discover the wonderful path of sharing both our abundance of material blessings as well as voicing our needs, to fellow Jews. We cry out to G-d, but the answer more often than not is delivered through the medium of those living here on earth. We should also listen to the voice of suffering Jews finding it hard to make ends meet in Israel, and strive to help them make a livelihood here. However, we should also be fully aware that other voices trying to dissuade us from making Aliyah, can also be part of our test.
Jews do not belong in any Diaspora, nor should we turn Israel into one, through failing to take note of genuine cases of hardship. Israel is a shared enterprise and G-d willing every Jew will make Aliyah to the full extent of that meaning.