Saturday, February 16, 2008

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Aliyah Update: The Humor, The Angst

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Aliyah is almost impossible without either a good sense of humor, a good attitude, or both. We lost ours for a couple of weeks, but there's some hope its coming back...

- We tried to make a doctors appointment for one of our daughters. The receptionist insisted she couldn't as the computer said our daughter was out of the country. As she was standing next to us, this was rather bizarre. She couldn't fix it, but could be pushed into making the appointment anyway. You just gotta laugh.

- Local yeshiva's wouldn't let our boys in as they don't speak Hebrew (yet) and therefore wouldn't be able to get along. After great struggle we finally got one to relent after arranging ulpan (Hebrew language class) in parallel. Turns out they love and are getting along great (thank G-d) in Hebrew yeshiva class, but detest ulpan (seems Israeli teachers can't control a room full of Anglos). Completely counter-intuitive and opposite our concerns. Laugh or cry? Our choice.

- I didn't mind leaving the US Northeast, especially will not miss the winter weather. It's supposed to snow here on Monday.

- A lady came up to me on the street trying to find a local address, asking me in Russian! Fortunately, as she was trying to ask where and explain to me (something), she had it written in Hebrew and I could confirm she was on the right street and point the direction (in pantomime). But boy I wanted to hug her and say, "I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL!!!"

- We were invited to a lovely Shabbos meal Friday, a huge table with a large host family, our large family and some yeshiva young men from Mir. As we were discussing settling in, one of the Mir yeshiva bochrim quoted the Gemora (Brachos) on the things that come via yisurim (difficulties), one of which is a place in Eretz Yisroel. Our host, who has been here 6 years, turn to him and said "I always wanted to just punch people whenever they said that." Oh yeah.

When in the US, I always would tell people that Eretz Yisroel is the opposite of the US. In the US, ruchniyus, spirituality, comes hard. Synagogue may not be close by, or yeshiva, or good Jewish education, etc. Getting a kosher mezuzah or tefillin may be hard and expensive. In Israel, none of that is true, all the Jewish needs are readily available. It's the gashmiyus (the physicality) that comes hard. Getting a drivers license is a major production, mailing a package a big deal, decent grocery shopping completely inconvienent.

In America, one prays for the ruchniyus, struggling to reach for a connection to Hashem. In Israel, one prays for every little thing every day. The connection is there waiting to be grasped, being able to do it is another matter.

And praying for everything is not a negative, but it is a hard adjustment, especially when most of those things were taken for granted.

Shavua Tov.

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