Where has the spirit of settling the Land of Israel gone? Early pioneers came with determination to conquer the land, despite ever increasing hardships. There were certainly many unresolved issues that remained between the socialist, almost atheist nature of those veteran settlers, and the mainly religious Jews that dwelt in the land. However, when it came to essential questions of Jewish survival, few would argue as to the meaningful cooperation that existed in those heady days surrounding the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel.
One only has to look at the establishment of settlement blocks that helped to create ‘facts on the ground’ and provided continuity to the Jewish presence in the land. Religious and non-religious Jews alike, and from across the political spectrum created those settlements and in the process the State of Israel.
‘Jeshrun grew waxed’…the Bible refers to a time when the Children of Israel would become well fed and complacent on its land. Indeed, many succumbed to foreign demands more than local ones. As much as Israel tries to reach out to Jews in the Diaspora, we remain ever vulnerable to reverse arguments. Why don't we become more like the Jewish citizens of other countries, and conform to their own standard of values? Like a trogan horse, Israel can thus become penetrated with foreign and damaging ideology, wrapped in the mantle of Jewish concern.
Such issues become more apparant when attempting to attract Jews home. Israel then becomes vulnerable to the added baggage collected from centuries of spiritual decline in exile, the Diaspora itself stands ready to enter our land. After all, making Aliyah is also about exchanging one's national identity. One can be forgiven for holding on to some semblance of belonging, especially during a difficult transition period.
These type of issues become more revealed when the question of one's expectations from the Jewish State comes into play. This is a variaton on the theme of what can my country do for me? Maybe the fundamental question could be…’how to claim Israel as mine?’ Israel is not an employer, a benevolent health care provider, nor an open bank offering a social welfare system; although, the country does its best to offer such an important infrastructure. This takes us back fall circle to the founding of our state, which was accomplished despite much poverty and general world hostility. The pioneers left a legacy that we would be wise to emulate...the spirit of settling the land!
This country is ‘your’ true home, and it needs to be fully claimed as such. This might involve standing upright and arriving with a dogged determination to make things work out, come what may. This is how to approach the subject of making Aliyah the right way. We declared our intention to abide by G-ds’ commandments, even before we received them at Mount Sinai. That was a hallmark of Jewish courage and faith in our mission. It is this very same attitude that can serve the Jew well, when making the move to live in Israel, and staking one’s own claim to the Jewish Homeland.
The Diaspora has no long-term future for the Jewish people. Those who think otherwise are just fooling themselves. Just ask the simple question of what does a Diaspora suggest in the first place? When one arrives at the ultimate conclusion that it stands for the dispersion of our people, then the next logical step should be about rectifying that disaster. This is called the ingathering of the exiles.
We do our best to welcome and assist new arrivals, even though we do have our own individual challenges to worry about. However, the key to a successful move to Israel can often be associated with one’s own attitude towards making a claim on the land, and this involves shaking off the dust of the Diaspora.
Support Israel by all means, better still move here! However, don’t make the mistake of trying to drag Israel down to the level of the Jewish Diaspora, which was built on the sad fate of Jewish captives from the Holy Land. It is well past the time to reverse that injustice, and the best way to do that involves adopting that pioneering spirit, and breaking those chains of foreign captivity for good!