I knew my first labor experience would be painful, but I didn't know it would be so painful that I would feel as if I had transcended my own body and entered a different dimension. When my oldest daughter was finally born, I remember thinking, "Why didn't anyone tell me it would feel like this?"
As the founding coordinator of the Baltimore Chug Aliyah, I have watched many people make aliyah over the past four years. I thought I knew, more or less, what to expect from start to finish. Now that the news of our impending aliyah is out, I find myself experiencing emotions that I didn't know to anticipate.
Thirty five years ago, my father, A"H, bought me a beautiful, feminine writing desk. I loved the desk, but as I got older, it played a smaller and smaller role in my home. Alas, it was one of the pieces I was called upon to sacrifice in the quest to fit five decades worth of life into a small Israeli apartment. A few prospective buyers came to see it. One immediately rejected it because of a shallow scratch on the writing surface. One offered me a pitifully low bid which I quickly declined. Money being money, I did so more from sentiment than anything else. Then a mother and her 7 year-old daughter came to see it, gushed over its beauty and specialness and I knew they were the right buyers. So even though, knowing the desk will no longer be mine, I have a twinge of something I cannot name, I am happy that another young girl will appreciate it, as I have over the years.
Last week, I went to close a bank account that I opened 25 years ago, just as my career began. The account had been more-or-less dormant for well over a decade, but there was a little cash there to add to our Aliyah Savings Fund. Was I really feeling sentimental about a checking account?
Ahead of me in these next months lie dozens, if not hundreds, of these sorts of experiences. I am extricating myself from five decades of life in America. Unraveling decades-long business connections. Sorting out the detritus of a lifetime. Freeing myself from the tentacles of materialism and preparing myself to be open to my future.
Even though I have been dreaming of boarding that aliyah flight and living my life in Gd's Holy Land for years and years and years, ahead of me are any number of twinges and gut punches as I disentangle myself from a lifetime lived elsewhere.
I didn't know to expect that.
And yet, I know that even this is a bracha. How many millions of Jews over the span of Jewish history have had the luxury of such a gradual parting from their sojourn outside the Land of Israel?
Hashem has truly blessed me.