Gates Are Open But Maybe YOU Shouldn’t Come!

Due to recent conversations with potential olim I was going to write a detailed post regarding Israeli government benefits for new olim – myth vs. fact, but this morning I found a comprehensive listing at NBN that includes links to government agencies and even a handy Sal Klita (absorption basket) calculator!

I’m disappointed (and yes, a tad bit disturbed) when I meet people contemplating Aliyah whose decision seems dependent on just how many freebies the Israeli government will be handing out. One man recently decided not to make Aliyah after learning that healthcare is not completely free here!

Where do such expectations come from? I don’t know because they’re so foreign to how I was raised. From where do these people think the government gets this money to give away? 

From my perspective of having lived (and sometimes struggled) here for a little more than 4 years, all Jews should be making Aliyah for at least the following reasons:

  1. Living in the Holy land that Hashem set aside for His people is a Torah mitzvah (i.e., not optional based on one’s tastes or convenience).
  2. It is our responsibility to dispel the myth of other nations that Jews have no Biblical claim to this land, and (heaven forbid!) no longer hold it sacred.
  3. Our generation has been granted the blessing of returning to our homeland, along with the responsibility of rebuilding it.
  4. Nowhere else in the world can our children grow up learning and living the Torah with a physical connection to the teachings and traditions (anywhere else is strictly rehearsal).

I grew up in America during a time when strong work ethic and self-respect were primary values.  I’m not going to invest time and energy delving into where or how the “age of entitlement” came about, but do know without a doubt that it is wrong (at least by Jewish Torah and Christian Bible standards) to accept handouts if you are physically able to work to provide for yourself and your family. To have the audacity to expect that one is entitled to unlimited free health care, subsidized housing, free education,  etc. from a government that one has never paid taxes to, or provided community services for, is just downright wrong in my book!

To continuously complain about services or products in Israel not being what one expects they should be is also irresponsible – either be part of the solution (by doing something positive about what you perceive to be a problem), accept the status quo or don’t come here.  Are things so perfect in your current state of exile that you feel you have the right to criticize a society you’ve made no contribution to?  Or are you only now considering Aliyah because the gilded cage of your galut is rusting and the freebies are drying up.

The Robin Hood (steal from the rich and give to the poor) mentality has no place in our Holy Land. Giving tzedakah is a mitzvah; stealing from, or taking advantage of, anyone is wrong – period.

Putting things in perspective… When I first moved here I was a bit put off by Israeli-born people insinuating that all Americans are rich and therefore shouldn’t need any government assistance. After all, we only came with 2 lift vans, little savings and no family support, while some come with 40 foot containers and family financial backing, so in our view we were far from being wealthy… until we met Russian, Iranian, Iraqi and South American Jews in ulpan and our Ethiopian and Israeli neighbors.  Living in America – even if one witnesses poverty – it can be difficult to fathom just how little other peoples are able to live with (even happily)!

Israel is NOT America – thank God – and is not destined to mimic a goyish, idolatrous society! People who want to bring America with them would do us all a favor by remaining in the galut.

Coming with the expectation that the State of Israel (i.e., us taxpayers) should lavishly and forever reward you for fulfilling a Torah commandment because of the tremendous sacrifice you think you are making is a recipe for disaster – for yourself, your family and the rest of us. It is not Israel that is being favored by your presence here – it is you and your descendants who will be reaping the long-term spiritual benefits of living here.

Yes, the gates of Israeli Aliyah are open to all Jews regardless of land of birth, language, financial wealth/poverty, religious observance, skin color, profession, etc.  Just keep in mind that Israel in its current state is still a young country with opportunities for growth and improvement. It’s best to come with no or low expectations coupled with a readiness to pitch in and help build it into the nation it’s destined to become.  Israel needs hard-working pioneers, not lazy whiners.  We aren’t entitled to Gan Eden yet, we have to earn it.  Our focus needs to be on becoming a nation deserving of Mashiach’s arrival and the blessings of returning to the Holy services in the third Beit Hamikdash (bimheira v’yameinu).

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