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Don't Be Afraid!

By Tzvi Fishman
7/31/2009, 12:00 AM

A person’s evil inclination, or “Yetzer Hara,” comes in many shapes and disguises. There is a yetzer hara to engage in forbidden sexual relations. There is a yetzer hara to steal. There is a yetzer hara to stay in bed in the morning and not get up to pray. The list goes on and on.

In our last blog, we mentioned the yetzer hara to speak about life in the Land of Israel in a derogatory manner. There is another yetzer hara connected with the Land of Israel, and that is the yetzer hara to be afraid about making aliyah.

"Aliyah! Are you kidding?!"

Recognizing this yetzer hara, Moshe exhorted the nation, saying, “Behold, the L-rd thy G-d has set the Land before thee; go up and possess it, as the L-rd G-d of thy fathers has said to thee; fear not nor be discouraged” (Devarim, 1:21).

Because living in the Land of Israel is such a great mitzvah, being the mitzvah on which the completeness of the Torah depends, the yeter hara works overtime to dissuade Jews from coming. While most mitzvot take a few minutes, like putting on tefillin; or a day, like Shabbat; or a week, like Passover and Sukkot, the mitzvah of living in Israel is a constant, year-round mitzvah, encompassing everything a person does in his life, by dwelling in Israel, and working in Israel, and raising his children in Israel, by serving in the army in Israel, and buying his groceries in Israel, it is all one gigantic mitzvah. And it is through the mitzvah of the Nation of Israel living in Israel that the Kingdom of G-d is to be established in the world – so of course, the yeter hara does everything in his power to discourage Jews from coming.   

That’s why when a Jew contemplates making aliyah, the yetzer hara attacks him with all kinds of doubts and fears.       

Most of the reasons that people give for not coming on aliyah, whether it be that it’s hard to make a living, or that life there is dangerous, or the Israelis are rude, or secular Jews run the country, or I don’t want my children to serve in the army, are the work of the yetzer hara.

While some of these fears have a basis in reality, the yeter hara exaggerates them until they seem colossal in proportion, like the giants that the Spies saw in the Land. The truth is that with a little patience, and trust in G-d, everything works out just fine. By coming on aliyah, the Jew “goes up,” he becomes bigger in his or her service of G-d.

A recent talkback written by a woman who came on aliyah to Israel, that was sent in to Tamar Yonah’s blog, demonstrates this better than I can. So I am copying it here for the inspiration it can give all of us:

“I'm not out to judge other people, I only want to tell how it was for me: I made Aliyah with the equivalent of about 20.000 USD. That was all the money I had, a year and 3 months ago. I couldn't even afford to bring over any furniture - I gave most of my belongings away for free and came here with 2 suitcases in hand, alone, and lived in one room in a shared apartment in an Absorption Center for nearly a year. Because I couldn't afford a car, I walked on foot during that time. I knew in advance that my European medical license wouldn't be recognized here. Despite having worked as a Medical Doctor for already 5 years, I knew I'd have to pass a licensing exam again. And as a MD here I'd earn less than where I came from. My Hebrew was rudimentary at best. I, thank G-d, passed the licensing exam, had to give up my first job after that due to still-bad Hebrew, found a wonderful husband and a new job that, b'Ezrat HaShem keeps both of us afloat, as a Doctor in the Israeli Army. I've got a car again by now. And I'm living in the Shomron (Samaria) in a small house in a settlement because I want to emphasize the right of Jews to live everywhere in Eretz Israel. I came with pretty much nothing and HaShem blessed me with everything I ever wanted. If you put all your energy, trust and will into living in Israel and are willing to forgo some luxuries (are they really essential?), HaShem will help and bless you in the country He wants us to live in. It works. I've tried it.”

Shabbat Shalom