Monday, January 09, 2012

Aliyah - The Ideal and the Real

The Ideal:

We were granted by God a great blessing. We have been given a land of milk and honey. Israel is a place where Jews can perform more Mitzvos than anywhere else in the world. We can observe the laws of Terumah and Maaser; Orla and Shmitta.

And we can experience Yom Tov unlike anywhere else in the world… the way the Torah intended for us to observe it – at least to the best of our ability in post Temple times.

We can flourish as a Jewish nation in all areas of life in the most Jewish of ways. Shabbos is the official day of rest. Jewish holidays replace Christian ones and are celebrated by all Jews who are a majority of the population.

Israel in short is the place for Jews to be – where we can share in a truly unified holy Jewish life. It is a Torah nation; a kingdom of priests – free to serve God unfettered by governments who would deny their people their freedoms.

We should be a nation of scholars and workers; soldiers and sailors; farmers and entrepreneurs; artisans and craftsman… a ‘full service’ nation. We should be a nation based on the ideals of Torah where every Jew serves God to the best of their ability and participates toward the common good in their own unique way. With love and tolerance towards one another in complete brotherhood.

The joy of living in as Jews in Eretz Yisroel is something that all Jews should strive for. The Talmud tells us that the very air of Israel makes one wise. Certainly one can find in Israel the kind of dedication to Torah study unlike anywhere else in the world.

What could be better than living a life like this? To borrow a phrase from the American pledge of allegiance – Israel should be one nation, under God with liberty and justice for all.

The Real:

Israels air must be polluted. Because it seems to be making Jews stupid – not wise. Instead of unity we have divisiveness. A divisiveness among Jews unmatched in any other part of the world where Jews can be found. In Israel - it is Jew against Jew.

Too many Charedim hate Datim and secular Jews. Too many secular Jews hate all religious Jews. And religious extremists in Meah Shearim (who are spreading into other areas) - think they are in charge of everything. They make every attempt to show it - making life miserable for everyone else.

The level of intolerance by all makes it impossible for there to be any unity. The level of devotion to one’s own Hashkafa makes other Hashkafos unacceptable.

Israel has become a country of increasing extremes - extremes that are gripped tightly by its various intransigent segments.

Women are harassed on buses. Buses are increasingly being stoned - ramping up hatred in response.

Jews are calling other Jews Nazis... or parasites. One demonstration breeds the next - religious against secular and secular against religious.

With few exceptions Charedim refuse to educate their children for the workplace and refuse to serve in the army - furthering the greatest level of poverty among Charedim than anywhere else in the world. Which increases the animosity of the secular and Dati world. Which in turn fuels the Charedi contempt for the secular world.

Some Religious Zionists are so messianic that they have rejected any governance that does not walk in lockstep with their messianic visions. Which causes all religious Zionists to be painted with one broad brush of extremism.

Chabad is more messianic about their Rebbe in Israel than anywhere else in the world.

Hechsherim in Israel are more problematic than anywhere else in the world.

I could go on. But you get the picture.

What happened to the milk and honey? Under these conditions - why would anyone one to make Aliyah?

There is a joke made among those who work in the Israeli bureaucracy which deals with Aliyah.

An anti-religious Israeli leader dies and comes before the heavenly tribunal. They ask him where he wants to go - heaven or hell.

He obviously says heaven. So he gets in the elevator and goes up. When he arrives he sees a Beis HaMedrash full of all Jews deserving of heaven learning Torah. He then asks to see hell.

They get in the elevator and go down. When he arrives he sees a beautiful lobby, tennis courts, elegant dining... beautifully appointed suites... and he says, what's the question, I'll take hell.

So they go back up, he packs and then they take the elevator back down to hell. He opens the door and sees the hell everyone imagines it to be: Fire and brimstone! He turns to his heavenly guide and asks, 'What happened to the tennis courts? The guide responds, last time you were a tourist. This time you have made Aliyah.