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The Sponge    

The Sponge



Although the Land of Israel is one of three things that can’t be earned without tribulations, Hashem wants us to strengthen ourselves, fear not, and make aliya…

 



“Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them”. 
 
Making aliya can be a frightening prospect. Leaving our comfort zone for the unknown is not easy. There is so much to organize and for the majority of people, everything is so unfamiliar, especially the language.  The very thought of deciding where to live, finding a job, choosing the right schools for your children or if you are single, being without close friends and family, can be quite daunting. As the saying goes, no pain no gain, but in the case of aliya, the seemingly troublesome obstacles do not even come close to the benefits!
 
For the greater part of my life I have relied heavily on that ‘little voice in my head’ which has directed my major decisions. Without giving a lot of thought to the hardships involved, if I felt something was right, I would follow through. While being impulsive is not usually a sought after trait, I am thankful to HaShem for this quality, for I would have otherwise never made aliya and dragged my husband and children along with me. Having the benefit of hindsight, I can rest assured it was the right decision.
 
We moved to Israel when I was 38 years old and in the early stages of pregnancy. It is said that a young child is a sponge for learning languages so for those of you with small children, the easiest time for them to adjust to a new country is now while they are still in their formative years. When it comes to language acquisition, unless one has a knack for languages, us older folk have to work harder at absorbing even the basics. Without complete comprehension of the local vernacular, one can feel out of control in many situations. Bearing this in mind, if you have any plans of making aliya, the sooner the better is advisable, although it is never too late. People have made this life-altering decision well into their 90s.
 
One thing that doesn’t diminish with age is spiritual growth. To the contrary, it will intensify significantly as one reaches deeper awareness through life’s experiences. A person seeking the truth is like the young child who constantly soaks up every new detail in his or her world. HaShem hears our thoughts and ignites that holy spark within each of us the moment we show even the slightest interest in growing closer to Him. Chazal (our Sages, may their memory be blessed) say that Hashem asks us to open up a small hole like the tip of a needle for Him and He will open up a huge hole for us. In Israel, that hole extends in ways one could never imagine.  As a porous sponge, we become ideal receptacles for G-d’s Radiance, our neshamas (souls) absorbing more and more kedusha (holiness).
 
Nowhere on earth is the Divine Presence more palpable than in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. Life may not always be easy in the Holy Land but is it simple anywhere? We are constantly being tested, one challenging tribulation after another, but if one manages to endure with emuna, maintaining a genuine smile, inside and out, the rewards are immeasurable. 
 
Allow me to recount one ordeal which we were blessed with more than a decade ago. After a failed business attempt, we found ourselves over our heads in debt and could no longer afford our rent. Through the court, the bank took our car, our TV and our dignity. With no money and no roof over our heads, our family was forced to rent three 25-meter caravans (pre-fab, non-insulated metal trailers). One was for eating and ‘living’, and the other two were divided into laundry room, showers and sleeping areas for me, my husband and our 5 children, Once again, I have to thank HaShem for creating me as the person I am, with very low expectations in the materialism department.
 
I was grateful just to have a place for our family to live. I don’t know how many people could cope with this situation, but we are told HaShem never gives us more than we can handle. Even with that, I was pushed to my limit until the final straw broke the proverbial camel’s back. After living like this for roughly two years, I began seeing colors that weren’t there; reds and greens, made fluorescent through the brightness of lights such as car headlights. The eye doctor gave me a clean bill of health and referred me to a neurologist.  After doing several intensive tests including an MRI, I was told I probably had MS, Multiple Sclerosis! It could only be proven conclusively with a spinal tap and while in the hospital, he would inject me with steroids to alleviate my symptoms. This is where I drew my red line and flatly refused. MS, spinal tap, steroids – ME? Not if I had anything to say about it! This was all before we began seeking advice from a Rabbi on these important issues which would have taken a lot of weight off my shoulders. Even though I had not yet read the Garden of Emuna and had not learned about the amazing concept of Hitbodedut (personal prayer) I did understand that G-d was in control of everything and could change anything if He so desired. I could either cry and feel sorry for myself, or beg HaShem to save me. I had nowhere else to turn.
 
So, every day I took at least ten or fifteen minutes to beseech G-d and pray for His help, both regarding my health and our living arrangements. At my next visit to the neurologist, he advised me to begin taking Vitamin B tablets. We spoke to our local Rabbi and through a generous Charity Fund in our community we were able to move to a normal apartment. Shortly thereafter, B”H, thank G-d, my vision returned to normal.
 
I certainly wouldn’t have chosen these events, but since they did occur, I know that it was G-d’s Will, for a reason and for the best. It was difficult for our children as well, but they are who they are today because of how they grew up. My point in telling you this is not to discourage anyone from moving to Israel, but to encourage. When we live a life of Torah and Mitzvot (observing the Commandments and doing good deeds) in Eretz Yisrael, there is no difficulty a person can undergo that will not strengthen and empower them. This particular circumstance could never happen to anyone else, since it was a trial designed specifically for us. Each one of us must bear our own burdens and in so doing, we retain the right to dwell in our G-d given land.
 
Existing in of the Land of our Forefathers imbues us with the feeling that we are truly home andwithin a short time it is all else which seems foreign. Regardless of what comes our way, if we are guided by Heavenly objectives we have nothing to fear. HaShem’s Loving Light is always there to protect us through any storm, sponging up the torrents that have drenched us along the way. It is through this process that we become better people.
 
After all his self-sacrifice, Moshe Rebbeinu, our Righteous Patriarch, was not allowed the privilege of entering the Land.  Before he left the world, he passed HaShem’s message on to his people. As the seeds of that generation, this directive is also for us: “Behold, the Lord thy G-d hath set the land before thee; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the G-d of thy fathers, hath spoken unto thee; fear not, neither be dismayed.” Devarim 1:21.
 
It can’t get more clear than that.





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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  1.
  Chaya, you're amazing
Aviva8/29/2011 10:42:49 AM
     
 

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