Question & Answer With Akiva Of Mystical Paths - Aliyah
A Simple Jew asks:
Instead of merely writing postings about emuna, you have undertaken a monumental step and moved with your family to Eretz Yisroel; placing yourself and family entirely in Hashem's hands. In a posting last month you expressed the sentiments of being overwhelmed with this move and wrote, "Why in the world did I do this? What crazy urge to inflict chaos and instability upon my family came over me???"
Since the time you wrote these words how have you been able to strengthen yourself and combat the arguments that the yetzer hara raises in your mind to discourage your life-changing decision?
Akiva of Mystical Paths answers:
Arriving in Eretz HaKodesh, the holy land, is a tremendous thrill and a great excitement. We're here, we're home, it's a spiritual high point. The children are thrilled, the parents are prepared.
But, changing countries is not like moving to a new town. The language is different, the culture is different, even many of the foods are different. You need to find a place to live, you need to buy stuff to fill it (even if you bring your US furniture, which we did not with a few exceptions, Israeli apartments or homes don't come with any appliances or closets). Things have a different cost basis (the appliances, ridiculously expensive, a pair of tzitzit, ridiculously cheap). Some of the thrill fades as culture shock sets in.
We lived in Israel before, we were ready for much of it. We were able to smile and laugh as government offices gave us the run around for weeks, we understood how to bank and how not to get taken too much advantage of. We knew which hashgachos to use and what most of the products where. But after a while it started to wear on us...
The government took a month, and literally sent us back and forth from Jerusalem to Netanya, to acknowledge we are here and accept our children for health care (in our situation, having been here before, the parents are barred for a year). A school accepted my little girls, but not my little boys (why, because the principle just didn't like us) while we were in our temporary residence. And of course, everyone wants a commission for every little thing (it's the Israeli way, everyone has to make a living, but when you're not used to it, it seems like everyone is out to empty your pocket). Having found an apartment and moved in, we've visited 3 local schools who haven't accepted, or rejected, my children. I'm told some protexia is needed to get in (meaning you have to know someone and/or have leverage).
Several people have happily reminded me that a portion in Israel is acquired through yesirim, troubles and difficulties. This is, no doubt, the truth.
Yet, I spent erev Shabbat at the kever of one of the sons of Yaakov. My family and I walked the quiet streets of our neighborhood, together with all our neighbors, on Shabbos. My children run to the park constantly, or to the corner store, without my having any concern for their return. The mikvah is a block away, and there are a variety of shuls and minyanim everywhere. A few moments ago I returned from the dentist with my little girl, needed a filling. I had only a large denomination bill to pay him, he didn't have change. So he said, "just stop by and pay me when you have change."
I've driven the hills of Yehuda, stood at the Gate of Binyomin (from the nach, of the future!), seen the Dead Sea in the distance, walked the Old City, prayed at the Kotel, shopped Meah Shearim, learned in Rav Arush's yeshiva with my co-blogger R. Nati, shopped the Yerushalayim Shuk (bo bo borecha, bo bo borecha!), stood looking down at where the Mishkan was, and live in the hills where the Maccabi's fought.
As they say here, le'at le'at, slowly slowly we're making our way. Some days, it seems the country is out to get us. I guess that's us paying our yisurim. Some days, the kedusah of Eretz Yisroel takes our breath away.
In my rental contract, there was a line that said, "tenant promises to immediately vacate apartment in case of the arrival of Moshiach". I refused to accept this line, as why in the world would I leave if Moshiach comes??? (G-d willing, today!) [This line is apparently for overseas religious landlords that want to be assured a place to come when the time comes.] G-d willing, my family is here for now, and until (and after!) Moshiach comes.
May it be today. And may all klal Yisroel join us!