Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Right to Choose -- Without Undo Pressure

Yom rishon, 6 Shevat 5772.

This post is dedicated to friends stranded in Chu"l who feel that people already in Israel "just don't get it" in the sensitivity department sometimes.  Note to friends already blessed to be here: Let 'em breathe, okay?  As our rav's rav used to say:  "A decision is a lonely place."



My Mama used to quote a famous old Western bit of folk wisdom:  "Never judge a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins."

I am very grateful that Hashem finally (FINALLY!) said "yes" to my request to live in Israel.  I hope, daily, that He will not retract this great gift.  I pray, daily, that He will bring Home all of my holy brothers and sisters who want to be here.

When I first fell in love with Israel, back in 1991, I knew that this is where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.  Sort of the way I felt when I fell in love with the Dearly Beloved.


He brought me here for my first visit.  It was his third.  Nowhere else had ever felt this much like home.  I told him, "Go back and get the kids.  I'll wait here for you."

Ruti at the Kotel, when it was a bit more open.

At Yaacov Agam's famous "Fire and Water" fountain in Dizengoff Square.

Of course, it didn't work out quite that way.  It took 16 years for us to actually take up residence in Israel.

In the interim, I visited whenever I could.  (I have a very tolerant husband.)  Hashem engineered a job for me, with a boss who allowed me to make a business trip to Israel once a year.  (It helps to find an employer who has made aliyah, or is at least sympathetic to the idea.)

The visits were wonderful.  Leaving was increasingly painful each time.  Almost no one could understand what it felt like to be in my shoes, because each of us has a different story.

I stayed with friends during those visits -- and, baruch Hashem, with an increasing number of friends as the years progressed.  One early morning at the home of new friends, I davened quietly in the kitchen, as I waited for the household to awaken.  I gazed out over the red rooftops, and prayed a fervent prayer that Hashem would one day allow me this view on a daily basis.
Thank You, G-d.  He has!

A young woman joined me, and introduced herself as my hosts' eldest daughter.  We had a very pleasant chat about life in Israel, about my desire to be here, about her plans for the future.  Suddenly she asked me, "When are you making aliyah?"

Since I had shared a lot about my deep longing for the land, I knew that she could see that I was dedicated to getting here, if only...

"When Hashem says 'yes,' I'll be here," I sighed wistfully, knowing she would understand.

Instead, she looked at me with that gentle smirk that only the young can pull off convincingly.  "Oh, if you really wanted to be here, you'd be here already."

What followed is what my husband would call a Cylon moment.  Cylons (if you have not been glued to your TV set through the various iterations of Battlestar Galactica from 1978 until yesterday) are evil robots who, when they want to reduce you to dust with their laser weapons, first home in on you with a red beam from the region we call "eyes."  Once you see that little red light begin to glow, it pays to be light years out of the area before it locks on target.
Uh-ohhhh...

When a teacher or parent or coach gets very, very quiet, but you know they are angry and may explode all over your simpering excuse, this is a Cylon moment.



Skkkkkkkrrrrrrcccccchhhhhhhh!!!
I got very, very quiet.  The little light thingee behind my glasses started to warm up.  My response was barely audible, if somewhat clipped.  "Ah.  I suppose it's okay with you if I walk away from my significant debt, and leave my indigent and ill mother as a ward of the State."

She also got very quiet and reflective.  To her credit, she said, "Maybe I'll rethink my position."

(I really liked her a lot after that.  It takes a lot of courage to say the right thing in the face of the Cylon eye.)

I desperately want all the Jews I love who want to be here to have the clarity and the freedom to come Home.  But I also want you to know that I hear your pain, because I remember it.

Whether it is a commitment such as a large debt you feel the honorable need to repay, a parent or a child you cannot leave, or a handicap (real or imagined) you have not yet seen a way to overcome -- I will try my very best never to harass you.  Because YOU are the only one (besides Hashem) who can know when you can come Home to Israel.

Instead, you have (and always have had) my heartfelt prayers that Hashem will clear your mind and your path.

I'll keep a light in the window, and the kettle on.

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