Earlier today, I got an extraordinary email from a woman I have known for many years. She and her husband have been struggling for quite some time with the decision about whether or not to make aliyah.
When she sent me this email, she had no way of knowing that I wrote about a similar experience nearly a year ago. I asked her for permission to share what she wrote because I know it has the potential to inspire others.
This morning, before davening, I was really having doubts that I had the strength to ever make aliyah. I'm tired, I'm drained, how could I pull it off? I'm not even sure I should do it. I don't have that kind of clarity. You know when you told me that you had your 'Aliyah epiphany' on 9/11, I thought how nice it was for you to have moment of clarity. I'm just so tired. Finally, I pushed all my thoughts aside, or so I thought, and began to daven. The following is a progression of narrative that transpired between the words in my siddur and the thoughts in my head.
Blessed is Hashem who gives me the wisdom to distinguish... if making Aliyah is the right thing for my family. That's cute, 'aliya thoughts' in my davening. Rivkah must have these all the time.
Blessed is Hashem who did not make me a slave. Who will release me from my materialistic slavery so I can make the right decision, free of my yetzer harah, and thank you Hashem for allowing me to live in a free society where I can chose to, or not to, live Israel.
Blessed is Hashem who made me according to His will (a woman) who could enjoy living in Israel in ways only a woman could. (Wow, why all these Israel thoughts? Why am I suddenly imagining going to the mikveh in Israel, and making challa in Israel and lighting candles in Israel, and having and raising children in Israel - I don't even have a ticket yet!?
Blessed is Hashem who opens the eyes of the blind. Oh my G-d, it is so clear now, how did I not see it! Of course I should make Aliyah, what is the question!!!!? Israel, where every mitzvah will be so elevated and and the connection to Hashem will be so strong that every action, no matter how seemingly insignificant, will take on a whole new level of sensitivity and meaning......oh, what am I thinking? I will be so vulnerable, no familiarity, no language, no friends. It's altruistic but it's not practical...wait, let's see what the next bracha is, maybe there is a message...
Blessed is Hashem who clothes the naked. The naked!!!! What could be more vulnerable than naked!!!!! I've been saying this bracha for most of my life and all I ever thought it meant was, "thank you Hashem for my clothes in the closet and great selections in the mall". Hashem will be my cover and protect me from all I fear. How did I not see this meaning before? It's like I've been locked in a dark closet and I'm finally seeing the light for the first time...
Blessed is Hashem for releasing the bound I'm free! Now I see, now it's clear. What was keeping me so clueless, why all the confusion until now? I know, it's the galus, we are so entrenched, so tangled up in American society that we just can't think straight. Oh no, I don't believe it...look at the next bracha -
Blessed is Hashem who straightens the bent. So it's done, it's decided, no more confusion, no more doubts. Now I just need to commit to doing what has to be done. I'm going to finish davening and call my husband to tell him my mind is made up, get the tickets.
Blessed is Hashem who spreads the earth upon the waters. They used to take a boat to travel to Israel, how lucky I am to go by plane. Look! I'm talking about the plane ride! I'm going! I already see myself on the plane. Oh boy, I will have a lot to pack, there is so much I am going to have to learn to live without.
Blessed is Hashem who will provide me with all my needs. Ok, this is beyond creepy, every negative thought I have is squelched by the subsequent brachos. All the spirituality aside, how will I do this? It is going to be sooooooo hard to...
Blessed is Hashem who establishes the footstep of man. (This is the part where I fall to the floor crying.) Everything will be fine. Hashem will help us establish ourselves, in school, in the community, in our new home (I stand back up).
Blessed is Hashem who girds Israel with strength. He will make me strong enough do whatever has to be done. We will go, we will settle and
Blessed is Hashem Who will crown us with splendor. That's it! That's the reason I am going (of course, I crying hysterically at this point.) The splendor! That is the word that explains the reason I want to go. The grandeur, the magnificence of Israel and being a Jew in the Holy Land. Now I know why Rebbi Akiva bought his wife a crown with Yerushalaim engraved on it. Israel is our crown, our splendor. I was so down, so exhausted from carrying the burden of this decision. Now I feel light and weightless...
Blessed is Hashem who gives strength to the weary.
I think I had my "Aliyah Moment" :)