Our friends over at the Shipping & Living in Israel blog have just offered the best advice for new or prospective olim I’ve heard in a long time! Recommended reading: Quite Possibly My Most Important Post.
I once had a professor in college – Marvin Stern and he taught us why we should think for ourselves.
Our first lesson was to take home the constitution of Paraguay and answer a series of questions about the nature of the document. We all read and scrutinized Paraguay’s constitution and dutifully answered the questions according to our understanding.
In the following class Dr. Stern asked us questions about what we read – was it a fair and legitimate document, were the laws good and upright, etc. We all answered in the positive – good constitution – good country – good dictator!? Yes, that’s right – the constitution was that of a dictatorship! When we re-read it in class, the “little red flags” that we had in the back of our mind, were actually cornerstones of corruption. We assumed it must be good and honest because it is coming from the government, and we are trained to believe the government always does what is best for us.
Marvin Stern taught us, on that day, three principles to keep in mind when reading literature:
- Know who is writing (what is their agenda?)
- Why they are writing (what is the motivation for writing the document)
- Who is the the audience (why do “these” people need to know “this” information)
When doing anything in life – when reading any materiel, it is important to have these ideas in your mind.
When making aliyah there are lots of questions – questions about the community, the schooling, the religious climate, etc, and the response my sound simple/honest, but it is filled with perspectives/fears/motivation – of which, may be nothing like our own.
There are many negative forces out there saying that making aliyah is “hard”, “a bad idea”, “problematic for the children” and even “the wrong thing to do”. It must be understood in the context (albeit “well meaning”) that is has been said in. So often people parrot what they hear without analyzing/researching what they are saying and perpetuate myths built on false notions or fear.
Analyze the information that you experience on the basis of reason and how you feel – not by what your told. Most importantly, you must ask G-d for help in understanding everything properly and to guide you in finding your place in the Holy Land.