Earlier this week I watched a brief AISH video by Lori Palatnik about the song we sing at the end of the seder – Le Shana Haba b’Yerushalayim (Next Year in Jerusalem). In this message, Lori asks how many people really mean those words. I found this surprising since she doesn’t live in Israel and this is a question most often used when challenging Jews to come home.
Many of the comments on the AISH page under the video are sad and surprising. I wonder how some people can be so blind to the dangers and negativity in their own surroundings; they look at their galut through rose colored glasses while viewing Israel (the unknown!) through the lens of the worst media propaganda available to them. Some have even visited Israel and had negative experiences during a vacation that has solidified their resolve to never live here! Imagine making a life-changing decision based on a few unpleasant experiences because you weren’t open to exploring and appreciating a different culture (or traveling to the communities in Israel that are densely populated by Americans) while on vacation! I wonder how many of their ancestors ran away from the US because their early experiences left a bad taste in their mouths (very few, I’m sure).
And then at the other extreme, there’s the convert who said “I am a convert. A year after I said these words the first time, I was in Jerusalem (without all the helps and money a jew can get for his aliya). It’s true: Whoever really means it can make it.” Why is it that a convert “gets it”, but someone who has spent their entire life immersed in Torah life and culture doesn’t?
I was saddened by the story of the Israeli who moved to Lori’s North American community to escape the problems of Israel! And again I wonder, is there one Jewish community anywhere in the world devoid of problems? In my view, many galut Jews perceive problems in Israel in order to conveniently excuse themselves from making Aliyah (a positive Torah mitzvah). Why are they willing to fix problems in foreign countries but not participate in rebuilding their God-given home? Pointing fingers at a secular Israeli government while refusing to come home and vote it out isn’t the answer. If you refuse, God will send others (e.g., the many converts who enter these gates every year).
My friend Rivkah posted a link on Facebook today to a video that helped me better understand this upsetting phenomenon – Secret of the Matzah, Liberate Yourself. The bottom line is that change is hard and requires courage, the ability to turn from something known to something unknown. People fear that they might fail on the new path they are contemplating and because of that some people will remain stuck in the same location, job, relationships, habits, etc. for the rest of their lives without having realized their potential – or their mission in this world.
So as we sing Le Shana Haba b’Yerushalayim tonight, let’s keep our fearful brothers and sisters in mind and pray that they be liberated with an extra dose of courage this year! And let’s try to alleviate some of their fear by educating them about the real Israel. If any of you are interested in participating in a “buddy system” to hand-hold galut Jews through Aliyah, please let me know and I’ll start building a resource database.
Chag Kasher v’Sameach!