Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Moving to Israel

Given that tomorrow is Yom Haatzmaut I decided to write about this topic. Living in Israel I meet a lot of people (both young and old) who ask me why did I move to Israel? This question really annoys me becuase I think that it shows a warped viewpoint. The question everyone should be asking is why am I still in America? What is my heter? If you are not Satmar or Neturei Karta then the consensus opinion is that living in Israel is a mitzva d'oraysa nowadays (maybe only kiyumis). R' Zev Leff (not an RZ) has a tremendous essay in the book To Dwell in the Place, where he asks, how come people who are so medakdek on every din drabbanan don't even think to fulfill this mitzva d'oraysa? They don't even ask a question.

When I speak to kids who are in Israel for the year, it really bothers me when they announce that they have no intention of coming back to live here. That is a terrible thing. The education system has failed. Every Jew should realize that their place is in Israel. Yes, not everyone can get here, but if at the age of 18 you don't even aspire to come we have a big problem.

Israel is a small place. If all the religious Jews in America came it would have a tremendous effect on all aspects of life for the better. It is like the chicken and the egg, people don't want to come because of whatever, but things won't change until more religious people come.


Nobody said...

"how come people who are so medakdek on every din drabbanan don't even think to fulfill this mitzva d'oraysa?"

What would happen to those left behind? Such a campaign would inevitably leave only the less committed outside of Eretz Yisroel, causing a big deterioration in their yiddishkeit.

dave said...

I have a great deal of respect for people moving to EY who aren't mooching off someone else, but what's wrong with the heter of living out of EY because of parnossoh reasons?

Eliezer said...

As a yeshiva/college student comitted to aliyah do you have any advice? Could I contact you directly for specifics?

bluke said...

Nothing wrong with parnassah reasons, however, you have to really check things out and make a decision based on that. You need to ask the question and get a heter. How much parnassa do you really need? These are not simple questions and require you to ask a shaila.

bluke said...


You can contact me by e-mail ( with any specific questions. I would like to remain anonymous for many reasons.

Eli7 said...

Bluke, I think you're right. I live in America right now, will I always? I hope not.

You are right - the yeshivot (at least the one I went to, and I don't think it's an anomaly) teach you to break sefirah to listen to live music on Yom Ha'atzmaut, to march in the Israeli Day Parade, and to vacation in Israel, but not to live there.

There's a great (and heartbreaking for those of us still in the diaspora) essay by Rabbi Meir Kahane called "Goodbye Wall" that touches on this topic.

bluke said...


2 answers.

1. Do you really think that is why people aren't moving? Or is it just an excuse?

2. See חטא בשביל שיזכה חבירך

Nobody said...

1) It depends on who you mean by people. It would certainly could explain why the Rambam stayed in Egypt even though he held you are not allowed to live there. So if by people you mean someone of halachic stature, yes. If you mean general people, many of them might be able to be convinced by a campaign educating them about the Mitzvah of moving to Eretz Yisrael, but who would start such a campaign? Whoever did would have to think about the consequence. This isn't a theory, by the way. This is what happened in Morocco. The dedicated Jews moved in response to such a campaign, many who were left behind also moved, but to France. And it did not improve their yiddishkeit, both for those who moved to France and those who stayed in Morocco.

2) שב ואל תעשה is a very different consideration in that discussion.

Anonymous said...

a lot of people are worried specifically about the religious impact of living in israel. it is a very difficult place to live if you are not a committed zionist. americans who move tend to have a hard time with their kids' education. charedi life in israel is very unattractive to a lot of american charedim -- yet they don't fit in religiously elsehwere. this is something i think about a lot. the cultural differences are really hard to traverse.

also, i think you miss discussing that currently, living in israel seems to mean risking one's life and one's kids' lives, either because of army (or requires the choice to opt out of the army, which I think is very hard to defend), and/or because of terrorist threat (which b"h does seem to have lessened). Regardless, the issue for many people is whether they need to put their lives in appreciably more danger than in chutz laaretz.

Anonymous said...

but anyway the halachic issue of whether one needs to risk ones life to live in e"y is as or more compelling than parnassa reasons IMO

bluke said...

The actual danger is not that great. The statistics still have Israel being safer then living in a big city in the US.

bluke said...

The education issue is problematic because more Americans don't come. If all of the religious Americans would come then there would be a better eductaion alternative.

The fact is that things are changing slowly but surely. Today there are a number of options.

Anonymous said...

um, depends where you live in the big city in nyc. jerusalem is safer than an urban ghetto, not boro park.

on the latter, you are correct, but still, people have to deal with the present, for their kids.

bluke said...

It also depends where you live in Israel. I live in a small suburb which is almost all religious and has little or no crime and no terrorism. I feel much safer where I live then anywhere in NYC.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Bluke: I don't think that American Jewish educational systems have failed - they've done exactly what they set out to do: Perpetuate Orthodox Judasim in the United State.

Look how many places in Ameica now have actual walls built from Jerusalem stone. How many shuls have a "kotel" in them? There's no need to actually move here, when you can have it even better in the US.

I remember a Teaneck kosher dairy restaurant ad 10 years ago: "Make this the best 9 days ever! Don't be depressed over having nowhere good to eat during the 9 days; come eat by us, and make this the best 9 days ever."

Israel has become Jewish Disneyland. Its like a weird "Disney Epcot" mega-ride. Isn't cute to see logos in Hebrew, like CocaCola? Lets go on the Kotel ride, the Hebron ride, the Tzfat ride...everything is a tourist attraction.

And then, people go back to the US and put an Orange streamer on their car.

Orthodox Judasim in the US is one huge hypocricy.

bluke said...


You are absolutely right. The problem is as the meshech Chochma points out when we start saying teh Boro Park is Yerushalayim that means the end is near and a terrible golus is coming. The shelah hasa similar comment regarding teh communiteis of Worms and Vermiza why they were hit so hard by the cursades. He says that when Ezra asked them to come back they answered you build Yerushalayim we will stay and build our little Yerushalayim. It is clear that the American Jewish community feels exactly the same way and I fear for the results.