Monday, December 22, 2008

What Kind Of "Big Rav" Advises Against Making Aliyah??

A good one, that's who. One who is legitimately big. To cite Dreaming Of Moshiach:
Question:
Shalom, I had a very similar experience to your friend's turmoil regarding making Aliyah. We were very serious about making Aliyah 2 years ago. Then I visited a "Big Rav" who put a big fear in us about parnasah (making a living) and I told my wife (big mistake) and it caused my wife to change her mind.
I always pray to Hashem for another opportunity to make Aliyah, Amen.
Bsorot Tovot
Kol Tuv

Reply:
What kind of a "BIG RAV" puts doubts in people's mind about HKB"H??????????????
Doesn't HaShem זן את הכל (feed all)?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rabbi Chaim Vital, zs'kl, the student of the AriZal, said that at the End of Days it's going to be the "Rabbanim" who are going to cause Moshiach's delay.

...

This is your test - are you going to trust a Rav who doesn't trust HaShem to give a person a Parnassah or you going to trust HaKadosh Baruch Hu????!!!!!!!!!!!

Choose to trust HKB'H!!!!!!!!!! Parnassa of a person is determined by HKB'H on Rosh HaShana till Rosh HaShana - whether you are in Quebec, Zimbabway, New Jersey, or Tzfat iz not going to change the decree. Every penny/shekel has an address, date, and destination.

If you need more chizuk, remember that HaShem has PLENTY of money and it's us who need to work on our Emunah in HaShem.
In other words, Divrei haRav veDivrei HaTalmid, Divrei Mi Shome'in? And yet, the unnamed Rav is the one acting responsibly with his counsel. Dreaming Of Moshiach can enthusiastically and confidently tell them this, because she is full of her messianic beliefs. But it is disasterous to send someone off Israel, where Hebrew may likely be their second language, where they do not have the connections, where they will be like a fish out of water in a difficult economy, where they might not have the skills to support their family, where the recent layoffs are hurting US olim (see this recent article).

I know of more than one person who moved to Israel, did not succeed, and ended up having to move back to the States.

There is a famous Talmudic dispute about whether to dedicate oneself entirely to learning Torah and trust in Hashem, or to work. And many tried the former approach and did not succeed. Why?! Doesn't Dreaming Of Moshiach, who knows better than this rav, say "Doesn't Hashem Zan et HaKol?" Just perhaps, this is not applicable to all situations. And perhaps Rav Chaim Vital was talking about different rabbonim, such that it is not fair or appropriate to apply his words to whomever she happens to disagree with.

Perhaps this very situation is discussed by the gemara and poskim, about leaving Eretz Yisrael being permitted for three reasons -- parnassa, shidduch, and bittul Torah. See this halachic discussion from Rabbi Elchanan Lewis, about not making aliyah for these reasons.

(There is also the position of Rav Moshe Feinstein, about aliyah as a mitzvah kiyumis.)

Furthermore, a rav might be in a better position to assess the personal spiritual and physical needs of the individuals, assessing whether they should make aliyah. It is the "big" rav who will assess the metzius and not just pasken on theory and ideology.

Note that this is a big "issue" and I am not treating it fully here. Of course there is room for a back and forth. But this rabbi has sechel, and the sense not to ruin other people's lives because of ideology. If you are going to move to Eretz Yisrael, by all means do it. But set forth with your eyes wide open, and with good plans, if you want to be able to succeed. To do otherwise is not fair to your wife and children.

What do you think? Do you agree that this rav acted appropriately, or disagree? Please respond in the comment section. I am particularly insterested in the responses of the mystically inclined, mashiach is coming tomorrow, community.

Note: Not intended as psak, halacha lemaaseh. Consult your own local Orthodox rabbi.

7 comments:

moshe said...

As someone who lives in Israel (has been living here for about 10 years), I strongly suggest that people look carefully at their options and to which community they will be moving. Making Aliyah is very possible - but needs to be done with sechel and foresight - not with promises from the false prophet DreamingofMoshiach.

There are good employment opportunities here - but they need to be discovered in advance. A pilot trip, together with good local knowledge of the industry you are in is a must.

Even more importantly, the question of which community you will be integrating into is of utmost importance. American "charedim" don't fit into any category in Israel, and as such, may find themselves in trouble. I have problems integrating into the D"L community - as too many of them are even more mystically inclined than DreamingOfMashiach (and they too have ridiculous ideas of "Daas Torah"), whereas the Charedi community has more or less chosen a life that is devoid of any secular pursuits - a path which is leading to massive implosion of the community. Where to go and how to act is a good question - I don't have an answer that is as good as the question.

DixieYid (جنوب يهودي) said...

Josh,

Yes, big yasher koach to the "Big Rav" who advised this person to look before they lept. So so so many people have big shalom bayis and other problems due to parnasa problems. Emunah is necessary obviously. But making a move without any assurance of parnasa *at all* is somchin al haneis, which we don't do. Thanks for posting this!

-Dixie Yid

Andy Levy-Stevenson said...

I don't minimize the difficulties of making aliyah ... we did it nearly five years ago, and we're still not exactly wealthy.

But I think you're also underestimating the effect that the current economic climate is having, and will continue to have, on Jewish life in the US. What, you don't think there'll be layoffs in the US?

As I say, aliyah can be a challenge and my experience here has brought me to the conclusion that parents should not bring kids who are older than 6th grade (and you may be pushing your luck with kids in elementary school).

Yes, I know lots of people whose children have been the exception to that rule, including us ... but in our experience the biggest barrier to aliyah success is kids who are unable to settle into the Israeli school system.

The key issue here is "Who was the Rav talking to?" If he was talking to a middle-aged couple with kids, see above. If however he was talking to a young couple in their twenties, then I couldn't disagree more. When the history of the Jewish people is written, America will merit a footnote or two ... Jewish history is being made here in Israel, today, now, and for a Rav to counsel young people against aliyah is unforgivable.

Of course, if you ask a Rav in chu'l about aliyah, it's hardly a surprise that they'll feel a bit queasy about encouraging it ... after all, they haven't chosen to do it themselves.

Put simply; if you want to make aliyah, you will. And if you look for an excuse not to, you'll find one.

Jeremy said...

Josh- is there a reason the name of the rabbi is a secret?

I agree with the above poster. For a young couple, there is no reason they can't come and devote serious time to learning hebrew and figuring out how to make a living (of course, there might be other legitimate reasons keeping them in the states).

Of course, it has to be with the understanding that people here don't grow up with dreams of a white house with a picket fence. If your apartment has four bedrooms, you're doing quite well. But that doesn't mean you can't live like a mentch.

joshwaxman said...

thanks, everyone, for your comments.

in terms of not naming the rav, it is because I do not know it. this was taken from an email to the author of the Dream of Moshiach blog, which was posted up, and the original emailer did not list the name of the rav he consulted.

similarly, i do not know the particulars of the person's situation. but then, neither does Dreaming of Moshiach.

it is indeed "easier" for younger couples to get up and move than established families, though it still takes strength of character to do as Avraham Avinu did -- "Lech lecha me'artz'cha, u’me'moladt'cha u’me'beit avicha el ha'aretz asher ar'eka." And for different personality types, it might well be easier to make such a bold move and navigate difficulties in a different country.

In terms of a what this Rav said, I may be mistaken, but my assumption is that he was bringing the idealism down to earth. It is a great thing to do, and a fulfillment of a mitzvah. *However*, go in with your eyes open. Or else you will likely not be so successful, and you may get an experience you were not prepared for.

That includes assessing exactly what the job prospects are in Israel in the specific field you have trained for, trying to arrange a job beforehand, making sure that this will bring in enough income to live in your desired community. And assessing the various scenarios and seeing which you are willing to enter into.

It is true that unemployment can strike anywhere, including in the US. But at the same time, it may be easier to cope with unemployment and trying to find a new job when in the US, when you have a support structure in place of family, friends, classmates and business contacts. This can help find a new job, and can help sustain you when out of work. It is probably objectively more difficult to find work in a difficult economy when you really know the language and know how to navigate the infrastructure.

For a rav *not* to mention this, and to let them go entirely *unprepared* into this experience, regardless of their age -- that would strike me as a violation of Lifnei Iver Lo Titen Michshol. The rav did not tell them not to go. He put a "big fear" into them about parnassa. The way I would interpret that is that he was seriously discussing it and making sure that they had a plan.

KT,
Josh

Akiva said...

I sit on 3 sides of this issue (hard as that is).

First I believe we do have a halachic and spiritual obligation to head our way back to Israel, now that it is so practically feasible. The amount written about being in the Land versus not, both from a pure halachic and a mystical perspective is immense. No need to go further on this point, everyone understands what I mean though they may not agree it has a halachic force rather than a midos chassidus position.

Second, the Zohar discusses the rewards of those in the Land, especially with the coming of the geulah. And many of the navi'im discuss punishments against the nations. Both make Israel the place to be. From a practical standpoint, attitudes of the nation are defined (to some extent) by the population. If Israel had a Western religious aliyah the way they had a Russian secular aliyah, the attitude and tone of Israel would change in a big way - a huge kiddush Hashem. (It would also repair some of the serious imbalance among the Israeli charedi community - changing that tone as well.)

My third side is my own aliyah. I'm celebrating my first year of my 2nd aliyah this chanukah. Yes, I did it once before and returned to the US. Right now aliyah is easier than it ever has been (Nefesh b'Nefesh and anglo communities like Beit Shemesh, Modi'in and Ramat Eshcol in Jerusalem being a prime example), but easier doesn't mean easy. Changing countries, cultures, languages, job environments, educational environments, shuls, neighborhoods, money, measurement methods, weather patterns, social attitudes, is incredibly hard. Lifestyle is significantly different. Services, taxes, customer service, government interaction, every little step of adult life has to be re-learned and adjusted to.

It's hard, with children it's harder (maximum age of easy for the children is age 7 IMHO). The right professional skills can make it viable, but nothing makes it easy.

Having your life fall apart because of aliyah gone bad, marriage problems, children problems, damage to religious faith and practice, are all very possible.

SO, yes a wise rav can help his congregant make a good choice. And indeed "it's a bad idea" is the right answer for some. BUT I feel that the answer of "it's a bad idea" comes much too quickly to most rabbaim. The position of "you've got all the right elements here, shul, learning, job, why would you change it?", in other words why take a risk, isn't right when there's a mitzvah and a higher level waiting on the other side.

Instead, it should be "Aliyah and living in Israel is the right thing for a Jew to be doing. It's not going to work for everyone (do to a variety of possible circumstances), let's see if you're up for it."

To do otherwise is to negate Israel as part of Torah and Judaism.

Anonymous said...

Just to say that having made Aliya three years ago, I totally relate to what Akiva said in the previous comment.

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