A People Divided: On Making Aliyah
The Chronicles column about the husband who wants to make aliyah and his wife who would rather not piqued my interest (Chronicles Oct. 11). We know that our Sages say that the redemption in Egypt came about because of the righteous women and that the women will also bring about our future redemption. I have often thought that this might apply to the women who encourage their husbands to make aliyah and who agree to stay in Israel despite the hardships. We also know that the land of Israel is bought through hardships (Eretz Yisrael nikneit b’yesurim).
It certainly isn’t easy to move to Israel, and it is very hard to adapt to the new life. Leaving everything and everyone behind is very challenging. And that must be why the reward is so great – because this is one of the great mitzvot that we have in our day. For centuries people yearned to return to the land of Israel but it wasn’t possible.
If the wife who wrote to you will be against it, it will not work. But if she will dedicate herself to making it work, she will be giving her children the best place in the world to grow up in. Today organizations dedicated to helping people make aliyah lighten their burden by making the process and transition easier than in the past.
Many of our mitzvot are challenging but we know that the more effort we put into them, the greater our reward. If this family does indeed move to Israel, the wife may in time be able to move her elderly parents there as well.
I hope they make it and I wish them hatzlacha.
Rooting for them
You are obviously a staunch advocate of making aliyah, unlike Tzittering and Tzutumult who agonizes over what she calls her husband’s obsession. In actuality, the Jewish people are deeply divided on the subject of yishuv Eretz Yisrael (leaving out the small anti-Zionist faction that absurdly sides with our enemies).
The quote you cite – “We were redeemed from Egypt in the merit of righteous women, and in the future we will be redeemed in the merit of righteous women” – appears in Gemara Sotah and is a reference to the time when Pharaoh ordered the Jewish slaves to be detained round the clock in order to keep the men separate from their wives, thereby aiming to halt their procreation.
The righteous women were undaunted and resolute in their emunas Hashem. They carried food and water to their husbands stranded in the fields and uplifted their spirits with soothing words of hope and encouragement.
This source comes to teach that the “righteous woman” embodies the valorous wife who imbues her bayis ne’eman with spirituality and holiness, in no small part by supporting her husband in his Avodas Hashem and raising their children to be b’nei Torah.
Today the state of Israel is unfortunately a mecca of impiety and impurity. Its Torah-observant inhabitants (shomer Torah u’mitzvos) are a small minority and the Holy Land is largely governed by secular heads of state, some of who would like nothing better than to see religious practice abolished altogether. Torah scholars are maligned on a daily basis and the secular populace seeks to challenge long-established religious ordinances at every turn.
Nonetheless, there are those who cannot perceive of living anywhere else, and new Olim can’t seem to fathom why every Jew doesn’t follow their example and make aliyah.
In truth, many see living in a medina shel chesed/chutz la’aretz as preferable to tolerating the immorality and sinfulness that taints the holiest place on earth. Moreover, a large percentage of Yidden everywhere believe that the Geulah cannot be forced before its time and the same G-d Who dispersed us among the nations will fulfill His promise to gather us from the four corners of the earth and bring us home.
Whatever the reason we find ourselves where we are, all of us fervently pray for that glorious Geulah to come in our day – and we in chutz la’aretz add a daily prayer for the safety of all our brothers and sisters in Israel.