Why Live in Israel?

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41 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    Rabbi JB Soloveitchik pointed out that when God told Abraham to leave his home he did not tell him which direction to go so how did Abraham know? The answer is that the Jewish soul always resonates towards the land of Israel. this is much like his point that proofs of God’s existence are not necessary for much the same reason a beloved does not have to prove His loves existence. If there was ever a case of r Asher Weiss’s ratzon hatorah, this is it.
    Kt

  2. tzippi says:

    As I was about halfway through I had one simple thought. I crossed the halfway mark and as I read, I thought, Baruch shekivanti: Wouldn’t we still love Israel (and the people who live there) even if there were no mitzvah to do so?

    (Though – and perhaps this is why I don’t learn gemara – I can’t wrap my head around such a world. A Torah without mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz, which axiomatically endears us to the tool fo the mitzvah? No Beis Hamikdash? No repeated promise to the patriarchs that their descendants would inherit and live in the land?)

    I should add that I assume that Dr. Weisbord and I had a similar historia and general knowledge curriculum that endeared us to the land.

  3. Alexandra Fleksher says:

    This is such a beautiful piece. And Dr. Weisbord’s observation is so, so true. As my kids are getting older, I feel an urgent need to take them to visit so they can feel for themselves all the reasons to love Israel that they do not yet personally know. Maybe if we did a better job educating them at home…

    Still, there’s nothing like the experience of being in the Holy Land and feeling it for oneself. I feel it’s an essential element to one’s experience in developing as a strong and proud Jew.

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    Those of who are live in America should think long and hard about our future and that of our children and grandchildren as the secular media and academia assume critical views that tend to segue to hostile perspectives not just toward the amazing State of Israel and its accomplishments in helping revive a moribund post Holocaust Jewish community but also our way of lives as Torah Jews as the intersectional post modernist perspectives us as perpetrators of privilege. That combination of media and academia is a great threat to our continued continuity as is a view that Tikun Olam and the progressive agenda are in any way an authentic Jewish agenda

    • lacosta says:

      we have to consider that [ outside the RBSO’s Providence ] the only entity that has kept Israel from literally being dismantled had been the US . The same forces that will make the US longterm hostile to O jews , will also actively work to annihilate the existence of the zionist entity…

      and there is no guarantee that another Churban , greater than the most recent one , won’t transpire, ch’v , in the holy land…

      • rkz says:

        A few years ago, R AY Chwat wrote an article with many sources in Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim that there will be no more Churban (IIRC is was published in HaMa’ayan)

      • mycroft says:

        RHS IS a hareidi in my view as are some of my close relatives. However, they don’t subscribe to the anti-rationalism that has diminished the majority of the hareidi world
        Agreed-we pray and do as much as we can to prevent anymore churbanot, but none of us know the future

        an article with many sources in Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim that there will be no more Churban

        I pray that he is correct but no guarantees about anything. Our emunah does not depend on any state.

  5. kurkevan says:

    Even some Litvaks will concede that the heart is not a vestigial organ.

    Priceless!!

  6. Shmuel says:

    My boys went through the Charedi system and did not learn the history of Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael in any systematic or meaningful way. (We supplemented.) If a person does not meaningfully know his beloved, and her yearning to reconnect a relationship, it is hard to love her in quite the same way as one who yearns to constantly look at her, know her and return to her embrace. Dr. Weisbord surely knows the allergic reaction so many mechanchim (of boys) have to learn with any depth the events and varied players of the last few centuries. Surely hers is a rhetorical cry, to correct a serious flaw. I wish her, and us, luck.

  7. Raymond says:

    I feel demoralized. Ever since my first grade Hebrew teacher turned me on to the glory that is the Modern Jewish State of Israel, I have thought of myself as quite a strong Zionist. True, that I do not live there, but I have visited there seven times. When I was still just a teenager, I rejected the Democratic Party of my parents, in favor of the Republican Party, when I noticed how hostile Jimmy Carter was (and still is) to Israel, while Republican Presidents such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were so good for Israel. And while the late, great Rabbi Meir Kahane, whom I have been a long time supporter of, continues to be a controversial figure in Jewish circles, nobody could deny his love for Israel.

    However, with the above article, it turns out that I apparently lack a true Jewish soul, at least when it comes to our Jewish land, because in all honesty, I just do not feel toward Israel the way I feel toward my parents, siblings, and children, if I had had any. In fact, to be perhaps too honest here, I find myself loving the pets I have had more than I do Israel. That is because my support for Israel is not one that comes from my heart.

    Furthermore, I do not necessarily even see the Modern State of Israel as a fulfillment of ancient Jewish prophecy. Who really knows if Israel can outlast its murderous enemies, who never, ever seem to get tired of murdering Jews every chance they get? What if the Satmar Chassidim were right in their claim that Secular Zionism actually helped incur the wrath of G-d just enough to unleash the Holocaust against us? I am skeptical of anybody who claims that Israel is now in our hands forever. Who really knows if that proves to be the case?

    So then what is my basis for supporting Israel all these many decades? Well, because I see it as a necessary protective fortress, a kind of outgrowth of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, except this time, we keep winning against our enemies, year after year. Back before we had our little Jewish State back, we were sitting ducks in Europe. Jews living in Europe just a few decades ago, had only a 2 out of 3 chance of being murdered by the Germans. Those are not odds I would want to have for my own life. Yet the very moment that the Modern Jewish State of Israel was born, and several Moslem nations attacked Israel at once, and it faced its highest percentage of Jewish casualties of any of its modern day wars, only 1% of the Jewish population at that time died during that War of Independence. That is 1% too much, but better that than the 67% figure of nazi-dominated Europe. The antisemites of our world may not listen to our pleas to leave us alone already, but they sure do take notice when we have the physical means to defend our lives.

    Several months ago, Egyptian President el-Asisi invited Jews to come live in peace in his country, with full human rights, including living Jewishly. Now, while I am sure he means well, his kind invitation is probably not very realistic, but if it were, that is, if our moslem enemies really would stop murdering our Jewish people and just let us live in peace with full human rights, than honestly, I would see little need for us to have our Jewish State of Israel back. We could instead build Jewish enclaves around the world, where we would be given enough independence to run our own affairs….sort of like an Eastern European ghetto, except without any oppression from the non-Jewish world.

    And so, no, sorry, I guess I lack the proper Jewish gene despite being born Jewish. I love it here in America, and as long as the Left does not find a way to destroy the America we have had until now, I see no reason to leave the great, open, free, prosperous society that we have here.

    • rkz says:

      I sincerely hope that your opinion will change soon, B’ezrat Hashem, and we will have the z’chut to see you here in Eretz Yisrael, with all Acheinu beit yisrael who are still in the Galut.

      • Raymond says:

        I have long said to people that there are basically two reasons why I have not moved to Israel. One is because Israel is surrounded by the most primitive, savage people on Earth, who just keep on proudly murdering our Jewish people, while the world gives those monsters their tacit approval. I am not sure I would want to live in a place where at any moment, somebody might spring on me and slowly chop my Jewish head off with some rusty knife. And my other reason for not moving there is economic. I had a hard enough time here in America finally finding a job I can live on that is hopefully a stable one; finding such economic stability in Israel would be that much harder for me, probably next to impossible. Really to me, any Jew who lives in Israel, under such circumstances, is a hero to me. I applaud them, and more power to them, but I myself am no hero.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      The left via its control of media and academia and its support of an intersectionalist agenda views Klal Yisrael as part of the problem. The lack of support for Israel in both the mainstream media and academia shows no sign of abating.

  8. What I find so interesting about the replies so far is that they seem to not really be from any people who live in Israel! The idealistic way people look at a mitzvah that they are not doing might be different from the practical way people who are doing a mitzvah approach it. This is even true for the ever wise Rabbi Adlerstein, who while he now lives in Israel has been doing so for only a very short time — maybe not enough for his Diaspora mindset to evaporate. The same is true for even Rabbi Yehuda Halevi who wrote his wonderful kinot about Israel from the Diaspora. Although there might be some wisdom behind the aphorism that “it is better to live in Brooklyn and yearn to live in Jerusalem than to live in Jerusalem and yearn to live in Israel,” I found the perspective of people who were actually doing the deed to be fascinating. The grand mitzvah attitude conveyed by the Jews in America is generally laughed at, I think, in Israel.

    For those of you who are interested, the full, still unpublished post, can be found at https://www.broydeblog.net/uploads/8/0/4/0/80408218/mitzvah_shvitzta_for_posting_at_broydeblog.net.pdf

    • Joel Rich says:

      we just had our pre-aliyah interview at the Jewish Agency.
      KT

    • rkz says:

      I’ve been living in Israel for almost 25 years, baruch Hashem.

    • moshe says:

      I live here in Israel. I chose to do this for a few reasons. one of these reasons is Hebrew. If a person does not know Hebrew s/he relies on translations. while that is great that these things exist, I know that it is preferable to be able to understand the original. I had trouble learning to read as a child and to this day have trouble with Hebrew. I do not want my children to have the same problems. My children are going to read the Chumash the same way i can read a secular book in english- Mother tongue

      • mycroft says:

        Re translations-we rely on them more than we might realize, few if any gedolim in the past couple of hundred years could read the Rambams perush hamishnayos in the original. It did not prevent them from writing chiddushim that any Yeshiva bochur has studied.
        As a one time counsellor in Camp Massad, my mother AH was a counsellor first year of Camp Yavneh, when in Israel I attend lectures in Hebrew, but we should not overplay the importance of Hebrew.Remember ASHAPH could run an executive board meeting in Hebrew.

  9. dr. bill says:

    I visit Israel often; 4 times in the last 18 months. I always enjoy the live shiurim in academic talmud and halakha that are not readily available anywhere else. As well, the chazzanut and choir of the Great Synagogue together with its near letter-perfect kriat haTorah is hard to be found elsewhere in a single place.

    Invariably, new reasons for making my trip memorable occur. Last summer, a trip to Tzippori made several lines of the talmud unmistakably clear. Two months ago, we visited Haifa. I would love to know why all the food at the purported kever of Eliyahu. On our first night in Haifa, my wife saw a gorgeous sweater in the window of a store opposite our hotel. We went in the next day; the shopkeeper, a 90+-year-old survivor of the Shoah, sat and talked with us for over two hours, while she sold my wife another item :). A year ago, at a wedding, I had a long conversation with some Sanzer hasidim telling them stories about the Divrei Chaim and his descendants while they asked me how often a woman gives the hatan and kallah berachot under the Huppah? I rarely feel such ahdut outside of Israel. As my grandchildren begin to embark on their gap years in Israel, meeting their numerous friends over long shabbat meals is a unique joy.

    When I arrived in Tzefat for Shabbat together with old friends who made aliyah, i could hardly walk more than 100 feet without having to rest. Miraculously, Shabbat morning I walked the mile to shul without stopping. In the interests of candor, returning to yerushalayim my pain walking returned only to disappear a day later. I did not become a mystic.

    I ask myself why i have not made aliyah, but i know 8 reasons. Nonetheless, my wife and I hope to spend a few months a year visiting.

    oh, i forgot. at least one new place for a great meal 🙂 .

  10. Moseh says:

    I would like to pose another answer as to why one would choose to live in Israel. This reason is one of the many that pushed me to make aliya. In order for one to truly live a torah life, a fully Jewish life, the ability to understand written Hebrew is a must. As a child I had trouble learning to read. My parents decided that because we lived in America that most of the recourses should be spent teaching me English so I could function in society. That being said I do not want to choose English or Judaism. I chose Judaism, I chose Israel. It may be a mitzvah but I chose the ability to read the Chumash the way I read Harry Potter for my kids.

    • Joel Rich says:

      and that erev shabbat is truly erev shabbat (hope r’ybs devotees get the reference) – even the buses and the chiloni newspaper r merchant say so!
      kt

  11. Allan Katz says:

    Thanks for sharing. The longer one lives in Israel , the love for Israel grows on one. Over the years attitudes have changed about Israel . A little disappointed that the Chareidi leadership in USA seems to be identifying with the Peleg , something that reflects imho a lack in the love for Israel

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    One could argue that even And especially Charedim are very aware of and have great love of EY simply by intense learning of the many Sugyos and Shittos Rishonim that revolve around Kedushas EY and Shemittah and that the integration of Charedim into the workplace and the IDF is proceeding at a pace that many of us refuse to be aware of or concede that the same is happening. When a Yom HaZikaron is held for Nachsl Charedi that is evidence such integration that is moving at its own pace as opposed to being dictated.

  13. Dina says:

    What incredible kefiyas tov it would be for me to turn down the opportunity to live in the place my ancestors davened to return to for millenia. After 120 how could I possibly look them in the eye when they asked me why I didn’t move here?

    As for what I enjoy about living in Israel beyond the happiness from knowing how privileged I am to be living their dream… I enjoy the beautiful landscape, which feels so rich with history and meaning, I enjoy how being Jewish is the simple default here, I love love love holiday seasons here, and once I moved here I started to find America a bit too crass and materialistic for my taste on my visits to family.

  14. Dina says:

    Reading the comments after posting my response, and specifically seeing rabbi broyde’s incredible dismissiveness towards people who find joy in living in Israel:

    I’ll note that I made aliyah a decade ago. From my cohort there are many who would agree with me. Is this still “only here a short time”?

    Obviously some parts are hard but people wildly exaggerate the difficulty of living wherever they live (based on speaking to people in many different countries). Israelis think America is Disneyland. The problems I face here are not significantly worse than what my friends face in America.

    I wonder at the motive for insisting that other people’s love for the country is naive and won’t stand the test of time. Maybe a bit of defensiveness there. Not everyone feels joy performing every mitzvah, but that doesn’t mean other people are lying when they say they do.

    • Michael j Broyde says:

      Dina,
      I did not mean at all to be dismissive of anyone’s motives for living in Israel and I am sorry if you sensed that. I do not feel that way at all. I was complexly surprised at the variety of reasons — other than the mitzvah one — that people provided me after I shared with them my story. I welcome your contribution to this.

  15. Rav Kook:
    The Land of Israel

    The land of Israel is not some external entity.
    It is not merely an external acquisition for the Jewish people.
    It is not merely a means of uniting the populace.
    It is not merely a means of strengthening our physical existence.
    It is not even merely a means of strengthening our spiritual existence.

    Rather, the land of Israel has an intrinsic meaning.
    It is connected to the Jewish people with the knot of life.
    Its very being is suffused with extraordinary qualities.

    The extraordinary qualities of the land of Israel and the extraordinary qualities of the Jewish people are two halves of a whole.
    Eretz Cheifetz I

    • mycroft says:

      What moves me is the secular Yehuda Amichai “Jerusalem is a port city on the shore of eternity.”
      Even more moving in original Hebrew-especially for those of us who have reached Medicare age

  16. mb says:

    Superb article.
    However what I find more intriguing than why Torah Jews don’t move to Israel, is why avowed secular Jews that live safe comfortable lives( say from Australia, as one example amongst many) do make aliya.

  17. Shades of Gray says:

    This past Sunday, Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion, Mizrachi, and other Baltimore shuls held a program called “Strength in Diversity: The Complementary and Conflicting Flavors of Torat Eretz Yisrael”(available on YU Torah, by first removing the words “Strength in Diversity” from the search).

    The discussion featured two speakers from Israel, Yonoson Rosenblum and R. Moshe Taragin of Yeshivat Har Etzion. What struck me as very original and a breath of fresh air was that each speaker was asked to begin speaking about what they liked about the other community.

  18. Weaver says:

    “My response: While Blaise Pascal was hardly an authority on Jewish thought, he was on to something when he said, “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of… We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.” Do we love our children because of the mitzvah of teaching them Torah? Do we need a compelling reason to love them? Or do our hearts overflow with the capacity to embrace them?”

    Ah, the old independent virtue ethic question ; ).

  19. Michael Halberstam says:

    We must learn to see Eretz Yisroel as the true hope of the Jewish Future, if we don’t mess it up. one of the most obvious facts is that in EY, there are a multitude of acceptable ways to be an Observant Jew, far beyond what we see in Chutz Laaretz , where everyone feels the need to identify in his/her observance with a particular historic or even religio-political ideology. In a Jewish country, a jew practices his faith because he is a Jew. Whayt kind of Jew is a secondary question. On the surface we all try to deny this, but every once in a while it becomes obvious

  20. Yaakov Borow says:

    BH we made aliya almost 23 years ago, and of course I have no basis to imagine what my life would have been like had we not done so, I cannot fathom not living here. As I understood Rabbi Alderstein’s beautiful piece, the imperative of the mitzva combines with the emotional to create a love of living here and a real feeling that something is normal and right about being here. Also, the historical weight of previous generations crying for returning to the land creates a mindset of how could we possibly deny ourselves and our future generations the opportunity of being part of the whole enterprise once it became an option. And speaking of future generations, my kids thank us often and without reservation for having made the move (again, no logical argument since they grew up here, but the emotional pull is only strengthened by their resolve).

  21. Jonathan Feldman says:

    We made aliyah last summer, and i wrote a piece on why we made aliyah.
    1. We are fulfilling Jewish destiny of Hashem’s promise that we will return. In Israel you are in the game of the unfolding of the Jewish people, in hutz la’aretz you are in the sidelines, albeit still playing a supporting role. An aspect of this is having public life revolve around the Jewish calendar
    2. Israel is the ‘palace of the King’ according to the Ramban. there is a greater opportunity to feel closer to Hashem. According to him, the mitzvoth, which are to connect us to Hashem, are only truly fulfilled in Israel.
    According to Rav Yehuda Halevy, in Israel the shechinah is more present. Another dimension of the greater spiritual life was mentioned above, that is in Israel your gashmiut goes down and your ruchniut goes up.
    3. Israel is home. According to Rav Kook living in Israel is not a technical chiyuv because the whole Torah is based on being here. Also since we left it has become more and more clear that the US is not home to Jews. Lots of people do not want us there…..
    The full presentation of this can be here:
    https://www.aish.com/jw/id/Why-We-Left-a-Secure-Life-in-the-US-and-Moved-to-Israel.html

  22. An Oleh says:

    Rav Lichtenstein zt”l spelled out his views on aliya very beautifully here: https://www.etzion.org.il/en/aliya-uniqueness-living-eretz-yisrael. He goes beyond what is mentioned above.
    And here is additional relevant material by him and by his co-rosh yeshiva Rav Amital zt”l: https://www.etzion.org.il/en/yom-haatzmaut-journal

  23. Y Berman says:

    Together with Rabbi Adlerstein’s, a total of six responses on “Why Live in Israel”!

    Let alone our mitzva, or “mitzva shvitzva”, what I find most astounding is the variety of thoughts and emotions Hashem puts into people’s heads and hearts, all in order to continue fulfilling “His” mitzva of bringing about that which He has promised through His prophets to our forefathers and to us as a nation.

    “Ki Lo Machshevosai Machshevoseichem…”

  24. DF says:

    Living in the land of the Bible is pretty cool. Also to live where Hebrew is the native tongue. Had history turned out differently, and the official language was Yiddish or German, the allure of the land would not be nearly as strong.

  25. Mycroft says:

    Hearing constant reminders on bus in Hebrew to make sure you have enough money in the Rav Kav before you get on the bus does not IMO add to the allure of Israel

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