Aliyah Blog

Moving UP in the World, since 5764/2004

Archive for October, 2005

Sichot on Yom Kippur

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Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh has published online the full English translation to Rav Neventzal’s Sichot on Yom Kippur:

Yay! Torah!

Written by Yaakov

October 12th, 2005 at 11:49 am

Posted in Torah

Different Value Systems

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In today’s Arutz-Sheva email, there is an article about how an Investigation into Police Brutality of protestors during the exile of Jews from Gush Katif was dropped. Despite lots of evidence (including eye-witness testimony, photos and video), the stated reason that the investigation was dropped is “lack of public interest”.

Yes, you got that right. Police officers were seen beating protestors while said protestors were being held by other officers. They placed demonstrators on rolls of barbed wire. This of course doesn’t matter. It is only a crime if there is “public interest” in it being a crime (and they are selective about who they decide is the “public” for these matters). It doesn’t matter what the law is. It doesn’t matter that police officers beat unarmed people who were not resisting arrest. As long as the public “doesn’t display enough interest”, it is perfectly fine.

This seems on about the same level as a conversation I had with someone in the office today. He admitted that he like to rent video games in order to make copies of them for himself. I asked him whether he cared that he was committing theft. He said that he did not (everyone else started to make other rationalizations about how his theft was really ok). I asked him whether he would walk into a store, pick up a game and walk out without paying for it. He said no. The reason: because he would be caught, but if he wouldn’t be caught, he might just take it.

What are we turning into? Do average people care anymore about doing what is right, simply because it is the right thing to do (and in converse, not doing what is wrong because it is the wrong thing to do)??

Written by Yaakov

October 11th, 2005 at 4:06 pm

Lessons from the Akeida

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I just finished reading Patterns in Time, Volume 1: Rosh Hashanah, by Rav Matis Weinberg. It is a remarkable work (as are all of his writings), developing a new way to look at Rosh haShanna through a myriad of sources from all of the different writings of Chazal. I cannot honestly say that I understand everything on the first reading. However, there was a passage near the end of the book that particularly caught my attention, that I would like to share with you. (Yes, you, the person who somehow reached this page).

Thie exerpt comes from chapter 14.4, pages 197-198 (italics from the original text. bold is from me):

But what distinguishes Yisrael is best understood through the most difficult aspect of shofar: the implications of the shofar of Yitzchak’s ram, more painful in their own way than the Akeida itself. For it is easy to lead lives that sleep in the tranquility of indifference. And it is also surprisingly easy to lead live of the Akeida, where all concerns of petty life fall away and only the weighty issues of supreme importance, of consequence undeniable, remain to be chosen – for life or for death. The world is all too full of martyrdom, of people living lives utterly dedicated to causes, some murderous and others just useless, sacrificing all normal existence. But the most demanding, difficult, and truly involved life seeks neither escape nor agrandizement, neither tranquility nor vainglory – nor even the honest reassurance of martyrdom. This was the most difficult part of the Akeida – to translate the moment of Truth into a lifetime of small truths, the moment of God’s seeing into an eternity of the montain [Bais haMikdash] where God will be seen (B;reishis 22:14). How hard it was to leave the altar:

Avraham! Avraham! – Avraham said, let me at least choke him…
Lay not your hand upon the lad… – and Avraham said, then let me just take a drop of blood…
Neither do anything at all to him! (B’reishis Raba 56:7)

It was at that moment that the ram appeared, and taught that the service of the Holy One lies in the small sacrifices made every day, in the belief that there can be no greater signigicance than the moment that is now, to be part of forever. The shofar brings us – along with passion, love, fear, responsibility, awareness – this most sobering of messages: that it is not enough to go up to the altar, but that one must know how to come down, leaving Rosh haShanah and its heights for the day-to-day toil and sweat in the fields of Din.

“I told you only to take him up for an offering B’reishis 22:2). You did that – now take him down! (B’reishis Rabba 56:8)

I know that Rosh haShanah has already passed, we are about to reach the Day of Atonement, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simkhat Torah. Then we will be able to get back to the ordinary day-to-day ocurrences of our lives. In so doing, I think that the message that Rav Matis transmits here is of supreme importance. All of our actions are important. Our mission as Jews is to be able to take the normalcy of every-day life and elevate it to have the importance of the Akeida.

Only so does the voice of the shofar grow ever more powerful, leading at last to the consciousness of a new world, where all Mankind will say, God has become Kind

Written by Yaakov

October 10th, 2005 at 1:56 pm

Posted in Torah

Why do they even bother?

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This past Shabbat I davened at the 7am “Hashkamah” minyan at shul. We finished up with davening just about when the main minyan was getting started. At that point, my wife showed up with our son. I had the privelege of watching Moshe while my wife went to daven. He slept for half of the time, woke up, ate a bit looked around a bit, and was generally his nice calm self. During this time I stayed in a side room where the strollers were parked. It was not too crowded there (due to the rain many people did not come to shul) and it enabled me to watch him while staying away from the dozens of rowdy kids treating the shul lobby like a playground.

It was an eye-opening experience in one way. At about 10:45 (already deep into Torah reading) someone walked in with his family. With kids in tow, he put on his Tallit. Five minutes later he was in the shul lobby, involved in what I am sure was a very important conversation. Over the next 45 minutes he didn’t seem to get so much closer to shul. Sometime around Mussaf, the Tallit came off (this didn’t seem to interrupt the conversation so much).

There is a mitzvah to judge our fellow Jew favorably. Especially in this period it is important to do this (not that it is not important to do this during other parts of the year!). However, I am finding it very hard to do so in this case. Why did he (and the other people who I saw do similar things) come to shul at all? Was he thinking that he might want to daven a little, hear to Torah reading and just got side-tracked? What kind of example does he think he is setting for his children? Does it bother him at all that he is treating a house of worship like a social outing?

Is there anyone who wants to argue the other side of this? Personally, I found it quite disturbing to watching people coming into shul for the sole purpose of socializing without even going through the motions of doing what he was suppossed to be doing (though I guess he did do one good thing by not going into shul – he didn’t disturb anyone who was actually there to pray).

Written by Yaakov

October 9th, 2005 at 7:04 pm

Posted in Observations

Thanks for your concern

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To all of you who have been asking:

Yes, we are still planning on making aliyah in the Winter. No, we never said that we were going to change our aliyah date.

Yes, we know that we are moving “over the Green Line” (kind of ironic, how we seem to be fated to be living around green lines, wherever we are)

Yes, we know that the government is planning on building a “security fence“. Yes we know that we will be “on the other side” of said fence. And yes, despite this knowledge, we are still planning on going.

Yes, we are aware that the current government has uprooted Jews from their homes. Yes we know that it could happen to us. No, we are not prophets and do not know for sure what will happen to our community in the coming years. No, we have not decided what we would do if the government planned to uproot us (chas v’shalom!). We pray that this day will never come and we hope that our presence there will help in some small way to prevent that from ever happening.

Yes, we are nervous. Yes, we are excited.

Shabbat Shalom, G’mar Chatimah Tovah.

Written by Yaakov

October 7th, 2005 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Experiences

Nefesh B’Nefesh Application in the Mail

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Last Friday my wife brought our Nefesh B’Nefesh application to the Post Office.

It took alot longer than we thought. In addition to the personal information, the following added some time to the application process:

  • Financial Disclosure – We are hoping to get a grant from Nefesh B’Nefesh that would help us towards the expense of making aliyah. This required me to get lots of bank statements, sum up the total amount of money that we have to our name (a number which at the same time seems to be both very big and very small), and get the whole thing reviewed by an accountant.
  • Essay – Together we had to write an essay (my wife did most of it). No guidelines. Just something that we thought would enhance our application
  • Aliyah Motives – We each had to fill out a multi-page section where we write the reasons why we are making aliyah, the things we thing will be problems, possible solutions, self-description, etc
  • Letters of Recommendation – We hadn’t read the fine-print until we thought we were almost done with the application. Seems like they wanted two sealed letters of recommendation (preferably from community leaders). We got them. Just more to do. (Of course, it didn’t help when we misplaced one of the letters when cleaning up for Shabbat last Friday afternoon. Kind of awkward).
  • Pictures: of the family, or our passports

Check one more thing off of our “need to do as soon as possible” pre-aliyah checklist. Hopefully we will be accepted by NBN, since we have been telling everyone that our aliyah date is on December 27 (12 weeks from now! Yikes!).

Written by Yaakov

October 6th, 2005 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Experiences

Aliyah up, Yesha booming!

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Arutz Sheva today reports on two very important stories:

Aliyah (immigration) to Israel reached a six-year high in 5765, as more Jews from France and North America decided to end their exile and live in the land of Israel (Read the whole article)

It is wonderful and inspiring to see so many Jews worldwide returning Home. Hopefully increases in aliyah will only increase.

Ironically, the areas hardest hit by terrorism from the Oslo War, Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem, are reporting the biggest boon in real estate activity. Sales of new homes in Judea and Samaria have reached an all time high in 2005, making up 5.3% of all new home purchases nationwide.

The figures for Judea and Samaria contrast sharply with the rest of the country which witnessed an 8% overall rise in new home purchases in the period from March to July 2005. (Read the whole article)

I am often asked by people (who know that I am planning on moving to a community “on the other side of the fence”) if I am nervous whether I might be kicked out of my home in a few years. I answer that I have no way of predicting the future. However, if we act like the land is not ours and we do not care for it, more often than this attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, if we (the Jewish people) are involved in actively resettling the land, there will be no stopping us.

It is good to see that the trend is picking up. Chazak U’barych

Written by Yaakov

October 3rd, 2005 at 11:02 am

Posted in Aliyah,News

The Call of the Great Shofar

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On Rosh Hashana, 1933, Rav Kook delivered an address in the Old City of Jerusalem.

In it, when talking about what we say every day in the Amida in the blessing for the ingathering of the exiles: Teka B’Shofar Gadol – (Hashem should) blow on the Great Shofar.

The preferred ‘shofar of redemption’ is the divine call that awakens the people through holy motivations – out of faith in God and the sanctity of the people of Israel. This form of awakening corresponds to the ram’s horn, recalling the holy dedication of “Akeidat Yitzchak” (the Binding of Isaac). The inspiring call of this ‘shofar’ brought Nachmanides, Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy, Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura, the disciples of the Vilna Gaon, and the Hasidim of the Baal Shem Tov to return to the Land of Israel. It is for this “great shofar”, an awakening of spiritual greatness, that we pray.

(Read the full translation here, or here)

May we all merit to hear the sounding of the Great Shofar that is constantly reverberating.

Written by Yaakov

October 2nd, 2005 at 9:44 am

Posted in Torah