Thursday, September 3, 2009
The Sunshine State
We have internet! And all that comes with it – our US Miami number is now working, I can blog again, skype, you name it. After a whole week and a few days without, it’s like rediscovering the wonders of the web all over again. This past week and a half have been very busy. I started to write out everything that we have done, thinking that it might be helpful to anyone who is considering aliyah, but quickly found that my brain cells have been fried. I can hardly remember anything! It's a good thing that Nefesh B'Nefesh gives everyone a poster (that looks kind of like a rather fun boardgame) with all of the necesary steps listed on it so that we can have some sense of what has been done and what needs to be done yet. It’s kind of like having a baby. You are so busy and tired that you can’t remember a thing! So I’ll skip to my thought of the week. During this process, we have been given a lot of advice and support by friends, strangers, and professionals. However there is one line that is said over and over again, starting with one of the government officials at the welcoming ceremony. “Eretz Yisrael niknet b’yisurim,” (a quote from the gemara) “Israel is acquired with yisurim – tzoris -- extreme hardship.” In other words you are going to suffer this year. This is often tempered with “kol hatchalot kashot,” “All beginnings are difficult” – meaning it’s hard in the beginning, but it gets easier. This make me think that we are going through some kind of hazing to become part of a fraternity and while I know that a lot of people have horror stories from their initiating year, I find it very depressing to be on the lookout for ours. One woman even showed us a graph that showed how all olim go up and then they all dip down, and sometimes very down before going up again. I know that the first year is hard. I know that there are challenges. But so far we are having a really good time and I find the yisurim thought to be a bit of rain on my parade. My other problem with the thought is the fact that there is a lot of truth to it. Many olim do go through experiences ranging from slightly unpleasant to total nightmare. Why? Why would Hashem do that? Here we are, new immigrants that gave up the good life in America in order to live in the Holy Land. Can’t Gd give us a break? The zechuyot are great and everything, but could we skip the yisurim bit? It’s kind of like when Avraham comes to Eretz Yisrael, only to encounter a famine. So here is my thought that I acquired while speaking to a fellow new oleh who is having plenty of challenges of his own: ITS ALL GOOD. As my friend from Miami (now in Hong Kong) and fellow Life Coach Ana Scherer taught me to say – we ask for what we want and then acknowledge that we will get what we asked for or something better. In Eretz Yisrael (and everywhere else), there is a lot of ‘something better.’ We think we want A, but B may be better. Judaism talks a lot about light. Light is goodness, wisdom, even Gd Himself is referred to as the Endless Light. We are taught that when Hashem first created the world some of the light had to be hidden – it was too bright for human beings to stand. In the future, the light will return and we will be able to enjoy it. Light is a good thing, but only if we have the eyes to see it. When a person comes to Eretz Yisrael, there is a lot more light and sometimes it takes time for the eyes to adjust. How we experience our aliyah depends on how we see things and what we choose to focus on. As my husband says “we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. “ So much of life is experienced as a reflection of who we are rather then as what the true reality may be. Sometimes we experience the light as too bright even though it is always there to heal, to guide, to lead…to something better. However the potential is always there to experience the light as pure, wonderful sunshine. I’d like to propose a radical idea: it is possible to experience aliyah without feeling yisurim! Lest you think I am heretical and contradict the Gemara, allow me to suggest that we have had our share of tzoris and continue to bear our share of yisurim for the sake of obtaining and maintaining Eretz Yisrael. We need not bear anymore! I prefer to focus on a different ancient text – a blessing form the daily Amidah which states “Teka b’shofar l’cheirutainu v’sa nes lekabetz geluyotainu vkabzeitnu beyachad me’arba kanfot ha’aretz.” “blast the trumpets of our freedom, raise the banner high of our ingathering, and bring us together from all four corners of the Earth.” We are having a blast. Come join us. This is the true Sunshine State.