Book in Review: Spiritual & Halachic Guide to Making Aliyah

Ever wonder why there is no blessing for making Aliyah? What’s the status of someone who plans to make Aliyah – but has not yet done so?

Contact Editor
Hillel Fendel, | updated: 17:02

Aliyah today
Aliyah today
Israel news photo

Ever wonder why there is no blessing for fulfilling the mitzvah of Aliyah to Israel? How about at least Shehecheyanu? What’s the status of someone who plans to make Aliyah – but has not yet done so? What about leaving family behind?

These and other questions, and mainly their answers, are the backbone of a new book by a new immigrant to Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Friedfertig, a former rabbi of Kehillat Ohr Tzion in Buffalo, NY.

The book’s bi-lingual title - Oleh Chadash, The New Immigrant to Israel – mirrors the structure of the book itself; half of it is in English, and the other half in Hebrew. It features Jewish laws, customs and insights relating to all stages of taking the major step, in Patriarch Abraham’s footsteps, of leaving one’s birthplace and moving to the Land that G-d has chosen.

Many of the insights are based upon the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem and a teacher of Rabbi Friedfertig who disseminates his lessons.

Asked why he wrote the book, Rabbi Friedfertig explained to Israel National News, “I wrote it right before our own Aliyah, when I had a lot of these issues on my mind. I began writing it on Yom Haatzmaut (Israel Independence Day), and I felt that it just came directly out of my soul.”

“The book begins with an essay about the Talmudic Sage Rabbi Zera,” the author said, “whose Aliyah to the Land of Israel – fought with difficulties, including the objections of his teacher, 100 days of fasting in order to forget what he learned outside the Land, etc. – often parallels our own experiences.”

Israel National News: “What do you say to those who say that we have no obligation to bring the Messiah and therefore we might as well stay where we’re more comfortable?”

Rabbi Friedfertig: “Actually, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook said that the opposite is true: The sign that the Messiah is on his way is when people desire to come home to the Land of Israel… As far as the obligation to live here, some rabbis say there is no obligation, but rather only a fulfillment of a mitzvah if you come. Many, such as the late Rabbi Avraham Shapira, say this is not true. But even if it’s just a chumrah (a stringency), then why would this be the only chumrah that is not kept? People wear four-corned garments in order to be obligated in tzitzit (ritual fringes); is the Land of Israel any less important? Even the Satmar Rebbe wrote that every good deed here is worth twice as much as outside the Land – and the Chafetz Chaim says it’s worth 20 times as much!”

"Oleh Chadash" is billed as “the perfect handbook for anyone who is contemplating, making or surviving aliyah… or who simply loves Eretz Yisrael.” For purchase information, send email to mororly@bezeqint.net. 



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