Wednesday, April 25, 2012

// // 6 comments

Being an Independent Jew

by Reb Akiva’s DAUGHTER @ Mystical Paths

Tonight starts Independence day here in Israel and I'd like to share some thoughts about this day.

I have a a friend who hates (maybe I shouldn't use that word, better to should say strongly dislikes) Eretz Yisroel – the Land of Israel. She comes to visit Israel from time to time - for no more than 10 days.

Every time she comes I go visit her, and every time she has some new complaint about life or conditions in Israel. Then she marvels at how "wonderful" things are in America.

I usually stay quite while she rants trying to understand what's so horrible about living in the Holy Land, G-d’s gift to the Jewish people.  For Passover she visited for her traditional 10 days. I visited her on Shabbos and after the usual greetings I asked about her trip.

She replied “horrible”. I asked why and she said “I really don't like Israel.”

That statement sent me on a mental roller-coaster.  As a frum Jew (a religiously observant Jew) she davens (prayers) every day (3 times a day for men).  In those prayers we ask repeatedly to be returned to our land, and that golus (the exile of the Jewish people from the Holy Land) should end.  We wait for Moshaich every day, and G-d willing when he comes (may it be today) every jew who isn’t living here in Israel will be returning.

So in reality what was she hating or rather with her dislike she is denying the thought that this (Israel) is our home, this is our land.

Being Independence Day here in the State of Israel I think over and over her statements about life, and then think to myself how many generations of Jews wished, dreamed and prayed that they could live here.  And how many gave up their lives so we could have this land back. After the story of גדליה following the churban (the destruction of the 2nd Beis HaMikdash – the Holy Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the fall of Israel to the Romans), the remaining and surviving Jews were exiled from the Land and it became desolate.  And here today, a little less than 2,000 years later there are (bli ayin hara) over 6,000,000 Jews living here today!

I'm not saying living in the Holy Land is easy.  Ask any Anglo (Israeli slang for English speaking Jews from the US, Australia, South Africa, England and Canada) who's made aliyah (moved to) Israel.  There are things we miss and some Israeli things that make you want to just bang your head against the wall. And the Israeli system for many things isn't the greatest (as my father says, “the fact that this country runs every day is a direct and obvious miracle from G-d”).

But we have the obligation to be here to live here (if we can), even if it isn't comfortable.  This is our home and our gift from G-d.  Are we going to just disregard it?

For once I truly understand what Golus (the idea of exile) is. It's that lack, that unwillingness to see, to understand and look for the beauty, to treat our gift as if it isn't important. To believe life among the nations is better than with our own brothers and sisters. (I do wonder why my friend even bothers to visit.)

At the end of the day there's one thing I do know. I'd give my life for this land because it belongs to me and my nation - to my brethren.  I can't just disregard when the dreams and yearnings of generations ride on me.  I can’t just disregard while soldiers put their lives on the line, defending men, women and children who are being targeted merely for being JEWS.  (Let no Jew be so foolish as to think otherwise, that there’s some kind of land dispute going on.  This is a direct attack on the Jews and the Jewish people, as can be seen by the history of such attacks before there was an Israel, and current statements of Hamas and Iran directly threatening Jews around the world.)

After over 2,000 years I can live in my home, in my land, G-d’s promised land, among my people.  That’s what Israeli Independence Day is all about, and what EVERY day is about as a Jew making their life in the Holy Land.

One final note, a thought I learned from my father. Are we some kind of spoiled babies that we expect everything to drop from Heaven into our laps?

Orthodox religious Jewish communities around the world are renowned for the care, the charity, the community, the organizations they create to cover every need in the communities.  They build synagogues and ritual baths, religious schools, groups for visiting the sick, raising charity for those in need, providing food and assistance to new mothers, medical centers, kosher supervision agencies, organizations that raise money to help poor couples get married and start their life, and in our times community ambulance services and even community security patrols, plus so much more. 

Those orthodox religious Jewish communities have an incredibly high number of people who step up when they see a problem and make things happen to solve it.  And an even higher number of people who are willing to get involved and make a difference.

We can sit back and complain that Israel isn’t (fill in the blank) enough.  Or we can step up and change it.

I for one choose live in the land our great great grandfathers dreamed about, our great grandfathers prayed about, and MY grandfather would have begged to live in while surviving Dachau during the Holocaust. 

I’m able to do so, in the relatively comfortable conditions of a modern Western democracy with a modern stable economy (THANK G-D), because generations of Jews sacrificed and worked to return, recover and rebuild OUR land.

For us it’s no longer a dream, but a reality and a responsibility.  Time to stand up and do our part.

From the Holy Land, G-d’s gift to the Jews but our responsibility to do something with it,
Happy State of Israel Independence Day.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Yashar koach!

Rena

Anonymous said...

Baruch HaShem!!! We just LOVED the video the young men made, and the words were phoenominal!!

Thank you for Loving Israel, and Standing ....THERE...IN...ISRAEL!!

We "Stand" with you too!

Neshama said...

HaShem should Bless and keep your daughter whole. She is the future. She wrote beautifully.

Akiva, now you know why you made Aliyah. It wasn't so much for 'you' even though you do receive blessings here, but rather it is for your children, grandchildren, and our collective Jewish future. Your family's Aliyah (as well as all olim) is the actual fulfillment of the Torah. Yes even if it is difficult, crazy at times, and trying, we are following G-d's directive to "Enter the Land ... of our forefathers, our Land, our Gift from the Almighty"

IY"H we will all be worthy to witness the Geulah in it's time, in it's entirety.

Devash said...

Absolutely beautiful! Yasher koach!! Eizeh nachat, Abba, nu?

Tali said...

Nice post!

The America of today is over-praised by those who are remembering the America of yesteryear.

I had a horrible time dealing with the health care system in a America for very routine, simple visits. The complicated forms to fill out to get money back on a simple procedure, needing to pay on-site for even the simplest visits -- even though you're already paying a ton every month just to HAVE health insurance!

Everywhere, I ran into rude, unhelpful clerks, salespeople, and customer service -- despite having many positive encounters, too, I must acknowledge. In fact, America has gone down. I never remember such rudeness and dismissive attitudes from service sectors 30 years ago. Also, there is often the ugly dynamic that the nicer you are to service people (after all, they are often abused by angry or impatient customers), they colder and nastier they are to you. They just want to get through their day and get home, and get their paycheck -- forget you.

Especially going about pregnant or with a small child, service people treat you coldly (and I mean when your child is perfectly behaved, not screaming or wild). For all its laws and movies against child abuse, America doesn't like children (as its abortion and single motherhood rate shows). Only black and Mexican women clerks were nice.

In Israel, if you have an exceptional situation, you always have the (often effective!) option of appealing to the clerk's sense of compassion. (Tip: Being angry or self-righteous doesn't do it.) In America, the clerk will be coldly polite in the face of your distress, but you can drop dead for all they care. Israeli services are still not ideal, but steadily continue to improve.

In the US, you are a lot more likely to run into hostile mentally ill people and drunks, even in unexpected situations -- like the library or at the shoe store with your children. Also, the drunks are for some reason very pulled toward women holding babies, and feel compelled to make lewd comments. I wish more people would understand that while dealing with such people is annoying if you're a man, those same situations feel downright threatening if you're a pregnant woman or with small children.

Also, think about how you treated immigrants in America (Jewish or not) -- the Russians, the Puerto Ricans, the Asians, the Jamacians....how patient and helpful were you in the face their language/cultural difficulties when you had to deal with them? Believe me, Israelis behave much more generously toward their immigrants than Americans (even nice, frum ones) do toward theirs.

Finally, if you ask those Europeans who have dealt with immigration/resident bureaucracy in both the US and Israel, they will tell you dealing with Israel's is much better!

Americans who come to Israel can unconsciously feel like they're doing Israel a big favor. Of course, they are (every sincere Jew who comes is) -- but there often is an unconscious feeling of entitlement on the part of the oleh. It's important to remember that you are family, and you will be treated as such -- with all the positives and negatives that entails.

josh said...

Thank you daughter and Tali. Am Yisrael Chai.

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