Bumping into people we know from America while strolling around Jerusalem
is kind of a common event around here, so it's no big surprise when it happens. Recently, just such a thing happened and we started talking, asking the usual questions. "What brings you here?" and "How long are you here for?" and, of course, my favorite, most intrusive question to ask people visiting from America is, "So, when are you making aliyah?"
Usually, people respond by talking about how much they wish they could, if only, if only. I'm kind of used to that. But this time, what I heard kind of knocked me for a loop.
"I could never live in Israel. I could never live in an apartment. What can I say? I'm spoiled. I need a house. And the people here are so rude. They bump into you on the sidewalk and don't even say excuse me. And the government! It's so corrupt. I could never live in Israel."
It's not that the person who said all this is the only one who feels this way. Of course, I know that some people, many people, are thinking these thoughts. And I recognize that it's a very, very early, unsophisticated response to the question I posed (some might say to the question with which I assaulted her). To be fair, these are religious American Jews on vacation, not people who have already signed up for their pilot trip, so to some extent, it's an unfair question to ask.
Eight years ago, I might have said something similar. Now, I noticed how much it hurt my heart to hear a religious Jew proffer such a vacuous answer.
And I wondered, how does Hashem feel when even a religious Jew from America so spurns Hashem's gift by clearly not having the least intention of even considering that Israel could be a place to call home?