By Sam Minskoff, Ph.D.
As oft heard, ‘Aliyah’ literally means to go up; referring to a Jew living in the Diaspora or self imposed exile to return to the Land of his Fathers (ancestors) namely Israel. Why should a Jew ‘make’ Aliyah when life is so good where he or she now lives? It might be a little easier when a nation is oppressing Jews [such as pogroms] thus making it unbearable and leaving little or no choice to stay in that country. Such a move still would not be easy to be sure. Regardless of the rough neighborhood, as long as it feels like home, people will stay. There is nothing like comfortable familiarity even if it is in a nasty place. The fear of change and the unknown can be a powerful force in keeping one trapped and oppressed.
Now, what if that country is the most comfortable, prosperous, tolerant place in the world to be in? How does one convince Jews living in these places that moving to Israel is the best thing? There are a myriad of theories and stories that such wonderful countries are in the process of going down and in so doing will make it extremely difficult for Jews to survive. Therefore, flee now before it is too late. This maybe true, maybe false; either-or, or both-and. One has to discern and decide.
For many, Israel is a place for those who are running away. For others, Israel is a place for those who are running to something so precious that it defies description. Regardless, it has been observed that such idealists come from both oppressed and ‘free’ countries. So, what would inspire someone living well in another country to leave it all to live in Israel? It must be some inspiration. Whether it is inspiration and/or persecution, simple observation reveals that Israel, in this day and age, is doing quite well as it continues to develop and adapt with all the many ‘ different customs of living’ striving to live together as one people.
Fear of the unknown can play its own significant role in the Aliyah process, even having an unexpected result…an ability to overcome irrational worries. For example one might be afraid of making Aliyah, but if motivated by inspiration, fears could simply dissolve. Displacing fear with motivation to make Aliyah can even lead to a positive Aliyah track to the most comfortable life style imaginable!
Inspiration can be the essential factor in overcoming fear. It helps to clarify the true worth of one’s decision to make the BIG CHANGE.
As the saying goes ‘overcoming fear is meeting fear head on’. Fear is a trap that can be made hard to get out of. If inspiration entails elements of ‘risk’ as most investments do, then it would certainly be more than OK to do whatever inspires you even though you are afraid.
As mentioned in my previous article ‘The ‘Mysterious’ And Fearful Process‘ fear is one thing; fear having you is another story. In so doing, investigate the so-called risks involved in the change. Of course, have fun doing it. This is part of the Aliyah process; the process of ‘going up’. In this realm, ‘what goes up’ does not [necessarily] come down. One may very well find that heights are nothing to be afraid of after all.
Dr. Sam Minskoff is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Jerusalem providing psychological services to the English speaking community. His services entail; Individual, Couple, Family Psychotherapy, Clinical Consulting, child abuse issues, Psycho-diagnostic Testing and Evaluations as well as specializing in depression, anxiety disorders and those issues pertaining to the Aliyah process.