Thursday, June 28, 2012

Harder to Access

I just returned from a brief trip to the US. Before the trip, I felt anxious about leaving Israel and asked one of my rabbis for a spiritual perspective about journeying to chutz l'aretz (outside the Land). The trip was prompted by the wedding of a much-loved nephew, a wedding I had to overcome several financial and logistical hurdles to even attend, a wedding at which my husband had the honor of officiating.

The brand-spanking new Jewish couple.
The wedding was surprisingly emotional for me. Besides the joy of witnessing the very first moments of the establishment of a new Jewish family, I had the opportunity to be with family members I love, many of whom I have not seen in the two years since we made aliyah. My heart was full. And I was reminded of how hard it can be to live so far away from so many people I love.

In the end, the trip to the US gave me a new perspective on a number of issues related to aliyah, and to the profound difference I experience between life in America and life in Israel.

Of course I know that not everyone lives a materially blessed life in America, but the material life I experienced there was so, so easy. We were blessed with access to a (nice) car, a GPS and a private apartment. The shopping opportunities were plentiful and the stores were all clean, spacious and beautifully designed. Parking was plentiful. The things we wanted to buy were affordable. The hotel we stayed at was luxurious. And the customer service, nearly everywhere, was outstanding (and in English!)

It was actually a bit scary how easy everything in the material world was there.

My husband, a master of metaphor, offered me this simile. In America, materialism is like really loud music. Even if you like the music, even if you are dancing to the music, its volume drowns everything else out.

So while we were there, albeit for less than a week, I had a bit of amnesia about God. About my neshama. About geula.

To me, it seems an extraordinary feat to live in America and still manage to stay connected to the spiritual dimensions of life. I applaud that ability. I'm not saying that spirituality doesn't exist there. But it surely was much harder for me personally to access.

I loved being with my family. I especially loved seeing my nephews, both of whom are now grown men (and one a newly-married man).

At the same time, I am incredibly grateful to have come back home, where the spiritual side of life is so much easier for me to access.


9 comments:

Leah said...

This is one of your most beautiful posts. Thank you for your honesty, poignancy and willingness to share what both your heart and mind experienced.

Anonymous said...

Mazal Tov!

Yocheved Golani said...

It is that surround-sound spirituality that escapes chutznikim. They never seem to stay long enough to sense it, to indulge in it, to be embraced by it.

As for Jews who've never been to Israel and scorn those who live or visit here, I'll continue your husband's metaphor: It's like asking people with their hands over their ears to evaluate a symphonic presentation. They simply don't want to hear it.

SaraK said...

Mazal tov!
I totally agree with Yocheved, excellent metaphor.
It's like asking people with their hands over their ears to evaluate a symphonic presentation. They simply don't want to hear it.

Andrea said...

Well said. I agree 100%. I have found that when I visit the States, it is so hard for me to access spirituality. In Israel it's just part of my natural state of being.

sherri said...

Your post is shockingly a duplicate of my stay here, except it being a niece, not a nephew's wedding. The hotels, cars, ease of shopping (and returning), the mega choices,communication (although i've said slicha a few times unconsciously), and on and on...it was unbelievable to see just how rapidly and seamlessly that we got used to this lifestyle again....
and I really didn't want to leave Israel for this short trip!
Seeing family again is priceless; the worry is I have not seen my son since after the wedding, when all his chevra, who got driver's licenses in the interim,kidnapped him and now he is officially MIA.
I don't want to think of the US exclusively as my material home and Israel exclusively my spiritual home. I want some of those material comforts in Israel, so it's not so easy to get used to that physical ease on our rare visits. Becoming fluent will help too...Living chu"l is obviously a way easier route to take...but that route doesn't lead to the treasure. It's shiny, it's new, but it's counterfeit;
l've acquired the map to the real deal and can't wait to get back!

Judy said...

I read your blog yesterday and shared with my family your husband's wise simile comparing comparing gashmius (or should I say "gashmiut") to loud music. We appreciated your thoughts, it just make my yearning for E"Y stronger........I realize that it is truly miraculous that I can even have ruchnuyus aspirations amidst this environment of "loud music"...
May Hashem keep you and your husband well and strong so that you can continue your milechet hakodash!!

Moriah said...

There is spirituality here. We are clinging to it and our G-d because it is this that keeps us going while the vile music you mentioned pounds all around us. On the contrary, I do not feel comfortable or at peace here. The luxuries for the G-d fearing Jew is like having somebody elses vomit on your dining room table. There is pain for the Jew that finds him or herself stranded in galus. Everyone in Israel wants to think it's willful - we're living in the lap of luxury. We can leave. We just don't want to. It's not true. It's not true.

Craig said...

I just returned from a 10 day family stay in NYC. I did not find people living in "luxury". To the contrary, everyone complained about their financial problems. When I questioned some close friends and family about their lifestyle they all admitted they were in debt or had received family welfare from parents or in laws (sometimes both). The food there was much more expensive and I understand health insurance is also very expensive (not to mention schools). So the truth is our standard of living is much higher in Israel.