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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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Aliyah Perspectives

Dear Rachel,

In the series of letters on the pros and cons of aliyah (Chronicles, 11-29) you mentioned a story about the Lubliner Rav who had wanted to move to the Holy Land but had decided to stay put when Heaven concealed from him the light of Yom Tov on the second day of Shavuos, which he would not be celebrating in Israel.

There is a similar story related about Rav Aizikel of Zidichov. On the second night of Pesach he delayed coming into the Bais Medrash for Maariv and when he finally appeared, he was wearing his weekday tallis.

After tarrying before reciting Hallel, he explained that not only was the special aura of Yom Tov withheld from him on this night due to his plans to move to Eretz Yisrael right after Yom Tov, but he was unable to shake off the weekday tallis he found himself wrapped in. Unwilling to forgo the kedusha of this Yom Tov Sheini shel Goluyos, he abandoned his plans to make aliyah and the aura of Yom Tov was promptly restored.

A longtime reader

Dear Rachel,

Your story about the Lubliner Rav was very nice, but how come you and others always write about those Tzaddikim who have passed away?

How about a story of a Tzaddik who is still living?

Just Curious

Dear Just,

Maybe it’s because a real Tzaddik seems hard to find in our time. Or maybe they’re in hiding, as is said about the Lamed-Vav Tzaddikim who are said to exist in every generation. They’ll come to light in about a hundred years or so.

Dear Rachel,

I am writing regarding your response to Rooting for them (Chronicles, 11-15) on the subject of aliyah, where you mention that the Torah-observant citizens are a minority in the Holy Land.

While this may be true, it must be said that these have an advantage over nonreligious Jews in the Diaspora. Whereas secular Jews in the rest of the world are mostly illiterate of the holy tongue, virtually every Israeli is well versed in the Hebrew language. Plus, they have the advantage of being exposed to Jewish culture on a daily basis and are vastly more familiar with Jewish history than their secular counterparts outside of Israel.

All of this says something positive for them; it brings them closer to Yiddishkeit and makes them more ideal candidates for orthodoxy. In other words, they would have a much easier time adapting to a religious lifestyle, should they choose to go that route. They are way ahead of secular Jews anywhere else.

An Observant Observer

Dear Observant,

So what is more lamentable: the person who is Jewish by birth but is completely ignorant of his or her heritage, or the ones who are very familiar with their heritage yet deliberately choose to live a secular lifestyle?

I’ve heard more than one sabra lament that many non-observant Israelis feel they are fulfilling their religious obligation by residing in the Holy Land. Conventional wisdom says the one who knows better yet chooses differently is ultimately held to a higher standard than the one who is oblivious to the rules.

Dear Rachel,

Ever since I spent an exhilarating year in seminary in Israel, my dream has been to settle there. I am now married baruch Hashem with little ones in tow. Though my husband doesn’t exactly share my passion for aliyah, he was open to discussing it and we took a trip together to assess the viability of such a move.

While there we visited an elderly sage in Yerushalayim who happens to be a mentor to someone close to me, for his counsel. After asking us many questions, he somberly advised us that in the absence of a viable parnassah, it would be folly for us to make such a move.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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