The aliyah question

Looking at aliyah through the lens of Torah. Exile is not only a physical reality of space but is actually more of a spiritual reality of spirit and soul.

Tags: Aliya
Moshe Kempinski

Judaism French aliyah flight
French aliyah flight
צילום: PR

The question of Aliyah (immigration to Israel) has been an important question throughout Jewish history. Is now the time? Do I need to? Perhaps this is not the right moment in Jewish history? Maybe the Israel of today was not what I envisioned it should be? Yet all these questions are overshadowed by one very simple Biblical fact.

One of the greatest and highest expressions of G-d in this world materializes only when His people are returned to his land. Otherwise, as the prophet Ezekiel says, G-d's name is desecrated in the world.

"And I will sanctify My great Name that is desecrated among the nations, and the nations will know that I am G-d, says Hashem Elokim. And I will take you from the nations and I will gather you from all the lands and I will bring you to your Land."(Ezekiel 36:20)

Yet though the doors are open ,the Aliyah movement  is only now beginning to grow and strengthen. Why would that be? What are the obstacles that hinder this clear opportunity to sanctify Hashem's name in the world. What gets in the way of destiny?

We read in the Torah portion of Shelach (Numbers 13:1–15:41)  the following;

Hashem spoke to Moshe( Moses)  saying,"Send out for yourself men who will scout the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel. You shall send one man each for his father's tribe; each one shall be a chieftain in their midst."( Numbers 13:1-2).

These were not just leaders but instead,”all of them were men of distinction; they were the heads of the children of Israel.” ( ibid)

Yet when they return we read the following

“They spread an evil report about the land which they had scouted, telling the children of Israel, ‘The land we passed through to explore is a land that consumes its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of stature. There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, descended from the giants. In our eyes, we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes.(Numbers 13 : 30-33).

This failure - called the "Sin of the Spies" - was not another example of disobedience, it reflected a much deeper malaise. It was so impactful that the date upon which it happened, the ninth of Av, remained a day of sorrow and danger throughout Jewish history.

So we must understand what exactly happened to these “distinguished men.” This is especially important as this “Sin of the Spies “will continue to haunt our people unto this very day.

The Gaon of Vilna, wrote that it is the “Sin of the Spies” that will plague the Jewish people throughout the generations until the last days. “Many will fall in this great sin of, ‘They despised the cherished Land.’ Also many guardians of the Torah will not know or understand that they are caught in the Sin of the Spies…” (Kol HaTor, Ch.5).

Our sages reveal two differing reasons for this failure . Yet both actually stem from the same source.

On the one hand The Baal HaTanya asks what led the other ten spies who were clearly chosen because of their spiritual greatness, to fail. Why would men of such great spiritual awareness not want to physically enter the land of Israel? These men, he explains, had experienced the highest spiritual experiences that mortals can envision.

They experienced G-d’s great hand in Egypt and at the Red Sea and they heard the Divine voice at Mount Sinai. They lived in the desert but they drank from the miraculous well of Miriam and ate of the manna from heaven and were protected in their voyage by the very clouds of Glory.

Why would they want to leave all of that purely spiritual experience and lower themselves into a land where they would by necessity become involved with the physicality of reality. They believed that spirituality is best separated from the physical.

In addition we also recognize in the words of the spies a deep and painful psychological wound that still remains as an open sore in the psyche of many Jewish people today. “In our eyes, we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes.”(Numbers 13:33-)

The weakness of these leaders wasn’t physical, it was optical . It was a weakness of vision. It was a failure in believing in their Divine destiny. It was a failure in believing in their worthiness of being G-d’s tool in this plan of destiny. Therein lays the trap and the problem.

On the one hand they wanted to live in the spiritual womb that was their wilderness exile. On the other hand they felt unworthy to walk into their destiny which involved revealing the spiritual in the physical. Yet both of these attributes are born out of the same sense of deep insecurity and fear of the trials and tribulations of physical reality

It is that insecurity that still plagues and hampers the people of Israel throughout the world. Exile is not only a physical reality of space but is actually more of a spiritual reality of spirit and soul.

As a result so many of our brothers and sisters still live in the artificial wombs of Torah centered communities and still believe that they can “sing the song of Hashem on foreign soil?” ( Psalms 137:4) .

Similarly after so many decades of oppression, anti Jew hatred and destruction, many have begun to see themselves “as grasshoppers”,  facing insurmountable enemies from without. Throughout Jewish history the embattled people of Israel have developed conditions and neuroses very similar to victims of abuse.

At times, they have begun to blame themselves for the hatred that they have experienced. At other times, they have begun to assume that if they would adopt more politically correct ideals and become more connected to the greater whole they would cease to be persecuted.

As a result of such desires they have eschewed uniqueness and national identity for the safe anonymity of "sameness" and "being perhaps loved more”.

It is that very insecurity that finds its cure in the land that breaths purposefulness and destiny. It is that purposefulness that so enlivens the residents of this land. When one finds one’s natural domain one can face any challenge and take even the most natural and secular reality and raise it to its Divine intention.

When one understands this then one begins to comprehend that Aliyah is not a question. It is the answer.

LeRefuat Yehudit bar Golda Yocheved and Yehudit bat Esther

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