Today, if you don’t have an “APP”, you can’t function. I pay my parking with PANGO, open my garage door with OXS, know when to daven thanks to CAL-J, pay bills with BIT, order taxis with GETT and communicate with my kids on WhatsAPP. And now, for all those still not living in Israel, you can get the official, newly released Aliyah APP. It has no name yet, so email me your suggestions, and the best one WINS! (What’s the prize? When you make Aliyah, I will treat you to cheesecake at the Israeli café of your choice! Trust me, it’s a great prize!)
Let me tell you about this APP, because it’s not what you think. It is not your usual “press-one-button- and-everything-is-done” APP. This APP is an acronym and it stands for the 3 things you need for your Aliyah to be successful and everlasting. “A” Attitude + “P” Planning + “P” Prayer = APP. Let me explain.
The first thing you need is a rock-solid attitude. Let’s be honest. Making Aliyah is a life-changing experience and it will be the best thing you ever do… but it’s not easy. Next week – July 4th – will mark the day my wife and I made Aliyah back in 1990. We had 4 little kids and life was comfortable in Woodmere, Long Island. I had a great job in Manhattan and 2 of the 4 kids were in the local Yeshivot. We loved being near family and enjoyed community life. In addition to my job, I started a kiruv program near Wall Street and was changing the lives of many young professionals. Yet, we felt that our Jewish souls were broken. We were happy in NY, but not complete Jews, so we uprooted everything and made the life-changing move.
Was it easy to leave both my parents and my wife’s parents? No, it was not. Was it easy to leave a great job and go to a foreign country with no job? No, it was not. Was it easy to leave the Kiruv program I started at a time when many of my students were just beginning their journey towards a Torah life? No, it was not. Yet, my wife and I did exactly that – 30 years ago – and we never regretted it for a second because we made Aliyah with an unbreakable attitude. We went with the mindset that this would not fail and any obstacle or challenge that came our way would be overcome. Simply put, we wanted to live in Israel more than anything else. Our oldest child was getting ready to enter 3rd grade and we wanted to raise her, and the other children, in our own country. We wanted the kids to speak Hebrew fluently and, as crazy as it sounds, I wanted my son (who was 5 at the time) to be a combat soldier in the IDF (which, Baruch Hashem, he did!)
Therefore, my suggestion is this: The first thing to do in the Aliyah process – even before you call Nefesh b’Nefesh – is to make sure you have a positive attitude for this amazing journey. Here’s a free tip: Think about Moshe Rabbenu. What would he have done to enter Israel? I told this to my wife before we left… that this would be my secret “Calm down, Shmuel” formula and it worked. I remember once, standing on line for hours in one of the local offices to get some paper stamped for the 14th time, and I was ready to scream, when all of a sudden my wife said, “Shmuel, take a deep breath. Think of Moshe Rabbenu. We’re doing something he was not allowed to do. He would have loved to get that 14th stamp… and even a 15th!” I know it sounds nuts, but it worked. I went from angry to happy and when the guy stamped my paper, I asked, “Are you sure nobody else wants to stamp it? Come on, there must be some guy in Beesheba who needs to approve this!” He thought I was crazy…
The next thing you need for your Aliyah to be successful is planning… lots of it. This doesn’t mean that you have to figure out everything to the last detail, but you definitely need a plan. Remember the expression: If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Therefore, use the time it takes between opening your Aliyah file in Nefesh b’Nefesh and actually flying to Israel, to plan as much as possible. Rent a nice apartment so you – and your family – will be comfortable. In all likelihood, this will not be your final destination, so don’t worry too much about it, but make sure to secure a nice place in a good neighborhood. Our first year was in Netanya and we moved there without knowing a soul… literally, not one person! At the time, there was a lot of new construction in Netanya and we found an apartment in a brand-new building. We were just the third family in a building of 10 floors! It was a lovely 4-bedroom apartment and it was a great way to start our new life.
Planning also means doing your best to find a job but be prepared to go even before you have one. My thought process was simple; By moving to Israel, I am doing exactly what Hashem wants so He will not let me fail! Some may call this naïve and others irresponsible but I call it “living a life of Emunah”. If you wait for all the pieces of the puzzle to perfectly come together and only afterwards act on what Hashem wants… where is the Emunah? This is not just advice I am giving my readers, it is how I live my life… and how I made Aliyah. When my parents and friends asked me how I was going to support a wife and 4 kids (plus 2 more that Hashem blessed me with in Israel) I simply told them that Hashem will help me in Israel the same way He helped me in New York! Who helped me land the job in Manhattan? Who helped a 20-year-old kid get married to a beautiful girl and start a family? I was working in a kosher appetizing store on Main St at the time and many, many people told me to wait… get a “real” job… put away some money… and Baruch Hashem I did not listen to them! I have always believed that when a Jew does the right thing for the right reason, Hashem will always help that person succeed! So, definitely plan – as best as you can – but leave something for Hashem to do…
Which leads me to the third and final part of this APP. You have the Attitude, you have the Plan so all that’s left is the Prayer. This might be the most important part of all – to daven to Hashem that your Aliyah be successful. Don’t wait for a problem to arise… talk to Hashem now! Don’t wait for the “I told you so” people… make that call today! Hashem is our Father so he wants you to be happy! He wants you to succeed and fulfill the dream of returning to Zion. Think about it. We daven for this 3 times a day so when you actually do it… make those prayers 10 times a day! Ask Hashem to guide you, to hold your hand and to make your Aliyah dream a reality.
This is the APP you need; Attitude + Planning + Prayer which will bring you home and keep you here to welcome Moshiach himself. Let’s make it happen!