26 Av 5781 / Wednesday, August 04, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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To Dwell in the Land    

To Dwell in the Land

Like a little toddler who trusts his Daddy to throw him into the air and catch him, we must trust Hashem. Regardless of our situation, He won’t let us down…


Until recently I was unable to write about our more difficult experiences in Israel. One reason I felt it was not appropriate was due to the prohibition to talk negatively about the Land of Israel as we learn through the sin of the ‘meraglim’, the spies, who reported negative information about Israel in Parasha Shelach Lecha.  I didn’t want to discourage anyone from making Aliya based on our suffering.  This was in fact was just a smoke screen for the truth since I have nothing harmful to report about our Holy Land.  How could I speak pessimistically about a vital part my own existence? It would be like complaining about the fresh air I breathe in order to survive. The Land of Israel did nothing wrong to us; in actuality we were the ones who must have done some terrible injustice to Her or we wouldn’t have ended up in the predicaments we found ourselves in. Now that I have a deeper understanding of past events and a how, through emuna, they played out in our lives, I have no fear that it will do damage.  On the contrary, with G-d’s help, it will motivate others to make Aliya.

Prior to making Aliya we were told by someone that people who come to Israel ‘lose the shirts off their backs’. This was intended to deter us, which it didn’t. Our response at the time was, if it is HaShem’s Will that we are to struggle for parnassa (income), we would rather be poor in Israel than anywhere else. This is where we belong, if we so merit.  As we see today in these severe, financially depressed times, one doesn’t have to live in Eretz Yisrael to lose all of one’s material assets. It’s happening all over the world.
Lower Galilee – photo courtesy of Emuna Outreach
Many can probably relate when I admit that in Chutz L’Aretz (outside of Israel) I never gave a lot of thought to where the next meal would come from, having a roof over our heads or buying clothes which we had in abundance. This has become the normal mindset of the generations since the Holocaust. Even though we were far from wealthy, we never experienced any existential lack and I took life pretty much for granted. Throughout high school I maintained a part-time job so I never felt the sting of need in the least.
Since then, however, the tide has turned and HaShem has taught me through some tough lessons that each possession and each morsel of food required to exist is none other than a special gift, a blessing from G-d Himself. I do regret that I wasn’t thankful enough in the past, but everything is in its proper time, orchestrated by the Master of the Universe. The symphony of life is played out exactly as planned which has directed me to my perceptions in the here and now. Had I not gone through my trials and tribulations, I would not have been led to The Garden of Emuna, Rabbi Lazer Brody shlit’a, Rav Shalom Arush shlit’a and the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, may his memory be for a blessing. It is owing to their revered spiritual guidance that my Neshama (soul) has been renewed with a fresh acceptance and clarity of being.
Nothing is by chance, but we do have choices; our errors in judgment and bad decisions led us down the path of economic calamity. With many obstacles blocking our ability to buy a house in Israel, we used all our funds on a business which failed after three years of trying to keep it afloat.  I can make a list of all the mistakes we made, but the bottom line is we ended up in major debt. To add insult to injury, we not only lost all our money and had no home, but the courts took our car and television to pay off some of our creditors, on the eve of Sukkot no less.  While we didn’t literally lose the shirts off our backs, we came pretty close. Stress took on a whole new meaning and our family bore the brunt of it.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have been shouting out in joy to Hashem in thanks for this difficult ordeal. Since all tribulations are a result of prior transgression (Gemara) as taught by Rabbi Brody, who could ask for more than to be cleared of our sins through some straightforward material suffering? This was a blessing in disguise. We have no way of knowing the calculations that occur in Shomayim (Heaven) each second of the day, but I would certainly choose material loss over health issues any day of the week!
Another realization I had recently was in connection to our marriage. It is statistically proven that financial problems create a whole load of marital woes (if one doesn’t have emuna, that is). Our marriage was already teetering on the brink of no-return so this could have been the push needed to catapult it into the abyss.  Bearing that in mind, HaShem figuratively tied our hands so it was impossible to separate.  Our situation was so grim, that we could barely afford to survive sharing expenses, leave alone each of us needing to fend for ourselves and for our children. Separation or divorce was out of the question as we were bound together by our common plight of destitution. The more I internalize all the intricate details of HaShem’s Wondrous Ways, the more I am in awe. The lengths He went to in order to save our marriage is simply astonishing to me.
More than twelve years later there has been a full turn about in all aspects of our lives including the most important facet – spiritual growth.  Had we not returned to HaShem with all our hearts and souls, I dread to think of the consequences. We would be like fish floundering on the deck, gasping for breath, soon to expire. And just as fish can only thrive in water, human beings cannot flourish without nourishing their Neshamas as well as their bodiesThere is no brighter place on earth to do that than in Eretz Yisrael. To quote King David in Psalms Chapter 137, If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my greatest joy.
I am sharing this with you, beloved readers, for no reason other than to encourage you to make Aliya and to inspire those already here. Like a little toddler who trusts his Daddy to throw him into the air and catch him, we must put all of our trust into the Hands of HaShem. Regardless of our situation, He won’t let us down. He loves us, desires only the best for us and wants us to be happy. He is waiting for us to call out His Name and speak to Him, to ask Him for help and be close to Him. He yearns for us to respect Him enough to follow his Laws and dwell in the Land He created especially for us.  Go ahead and take the leap – your Judaism and your life depends on it. You’ll be glad you did!

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