The Person Behind The Posts

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blind to Spiritual Economies

Once a week, I go to a neighbor and speak with her in Hebrew for an hour.  Since my vocabulary is limited, our conversations have often been less than entirely scintillating.  However, she's a very patient woman and lately, we have tried to share Torah thoughts with one another in what, more-or-less, passes for Hebrew.

My Hebrew tutor is the daughter of Iranian immigrants, married to an American oleh.  Her English is excellent, so if I get stuck, I use the occasional English word to communicate an idea.

I was telling her about an email I received from someone who calls himself, "LOST IN NEW JERSEY".  I don't know his real name, but he is a young married man with two small children under the age of 3.  His neshama knows that he belongs in Israel, but he's afraid to make aliyah primarily because he's worried about how he's going to make a living.  In America, his wife has a job, though he does not. His American rabbis are not encouraging him.  The core of his question is this:

"Does HakbHu really expect me to just pick up move and believe that "don't worry everything will work out fine when I get to Eretz Yisrael"? Can I really expect Hashem to do that for me?"

My answer to him was lengthy and I don't intend to reproduce it here.  But I made one point that bears repeating, especially after what my tutor taught me today.

Unemployment in Israel stands at 5.5%, a figure that is historically low.  By comparison, unemployment in the US is above 9% - close to double.

A lot of American Jews are still operating under an old paradigm.  And this is how my tutor explained it to me (in the name of a Rav, a Mekubal, whose name I didn't quite get):

When the majority of Jews lived in America, Hashem sent a shefa, an overflow, of material blessing to the US.  However, since the majority of Jews now live in Israel, the direction of the flow has shifted. Israel's economy is strong and getting stronger. The economies of the US (and Europe and Russia) are in decline.  One doesn't have to be a Torah Jew to see how clear this is.  Just watch the news.

There was a time when it was a very legitimate question to worry about parnassa, about livelihood, when leaving the US and coming to Israel where material life was, without a doubt, much, much harder.  But now?!  Now it's the opposite.  

Unfortunately, some people are still blinded by the old paradigm.  They are blind to spiritual economies. They can't see that the direction of the bracha has changed.  But from here, it is so clear!

The economy of a country is based on spiritual principles.  Material abundance is received where Hashem sends it down.

The majority of Jews live here now, so we in Eretz Yisrael are benefiting from the bracha being gradually redirected - from America to Israel.  May it grow clearer and clearer to more and more Jews every day.


tsivya said...

Very interesting concept. Thanks for sharing.

Gitel said...

Beautiful post, but factually incorrect. A majority of Jews still live in chutz la'aretz. However, a plurality of Jews lives in Israel.

Bat Aliyah said...

Over the past few years, I have heard at least three distinct arguments on this issue.

Some argue that there are millions of as-yet unidentified Jews in the world (e.g. anousim) and that, as geula approaches, they will rejoin the Jewish people, increasing our numbers exponentially.

Another argument is that, among the Jewish population left in America, there are fewer than 3.5 million people who are actually Jews by Jewish law. This would mean that there are, without question, more Jews in Israel than outside the Land.

The third argument is, as Gitel says, that we have not yet reached the tipping point, though everyone agrees that we're very close.

Regardless of whose counting is accepted, the Jewish population in Israel is growing and the major Jewish populations outside of Israel (i.e. the US, France and Canada) are diminishing.

Finally, using data from 2010, this site indicates that we are already there:

Bat Aliyah said...

Countries with Largest Jewish Populations

Israel 5,703,700 42.5%
USA 5,275,000 39.3%

Anonymous said...

Despite the merit of your remarks, it is not true for everyone.
An American Jew who is a bit older, and cannot speak Hebrew, will have a difficult, if not impossible, time earning a living in Israel.
If that older Jewish person has no specific skill that is easily marketable in the current Israeli economy, a move to Isreal can be devastating to his/her family.

Bat Aliyah said...

Dear Anonymous,

I came to Israel well into middle-age, took ulpan at the Aleph+ level and, 3 months after finishing ulpan, got a job in my profession, in English within a reasonable commute from my home. I mention this only to say that it is not impossible.

Every family must decide for themselves what they are willing to risk to be here.

My point is that the paradigm that material success will always be easier in America is changing. And, for students of Jewish history, it is not hard to imagine a time in the near future when the choice of whether to stay in America or make aliyah will be taken from us by political/historical/legal changes.

Anonymous said...

I'm very worried about not being able to make aliyah because I fear what is coming - what disaster will befall America. No doubt in my mind it is coming. My husband and I are older and have lost most of our money --our house is seriously under water. Hashem is maintaining us with His kindness. That being said, friends of ours left recently for Israel and met people on the plane that gave their daughter an awesome job as they were looking for someone in her field.. Jews network. Never underestimate the power of networking in Israel, especially with the English speaking oleh.

Hillel Levin said...

Also, never underestimate the power of HaShem.

I think the largest hurdle for our brethren to make Aliyah is that they are struggling with having Emmunah in HKBH.

If you pray daily and if you say Kriat Shema daily, then you must understand that everything comes from HKBH and there is no reason to doubt that he will provide EXACTLY what each of us needs.

Our challenge is to accept G-d's will and not to impose our will on G-D.

Please, please come home to G-D's country while the gates of aliyah are still open.

Edda said...

I'm sorry, but it is trully not that simple. Realistically, no matter how much I love living in Israel, it is much harder to make a living here, especially without the language and connections. First of all, salaries are much higher in America and the cost of living is lower. Second, not everyone can find jobs in English and not every profession is amenable to English. Additionally, the statistics do not show all of the unemployed people - only the ones who receive unemployment. For example, my husband just lost 2 of his jobs because of his deficiency in Hebrew. None of these jobs are "reported" so he is not in the statistics. Yes, things are much more difficult in America than in the past, but we must also be realistic. You need Hebrew, you need flexibility, you have to be willing to lower yourself professionally, you need to make connections and you need a backup plan to help you in the first few years. If we are not realistic, then people will come on aliyah with false perceptions and then eventually leave. Those people in turn will refuse to try again.

Batya said...

nice post
Your young friend will find it even harder in the states when his kids are in school. He should never ask an American (or any rabbi based in Chu"L) for an aliyah psak.
They should pack up. Life here is much better.

Ben Shafat said...

I am not justifying those who do not go to EY due to job and financial comforts but as a professional in New York looking to switch over to Israel, I realize that the Israeli system is VERY different from the American one. For example, once having experience here, you work your way up and can find higher level jobs across the country. In Israel, I am worried due to the fact that the only place for finance jobs tends to be in American firms, for 10% of the pay here and none of the benefits offered (but Israel does have health which is covered). It is not difficult for an Israeli educated person to come but I am finding a plethora of barriers for those trying to come with the job market.
Do you have advice for the employed in America trying to swithc to Israel and take the pay cut for all of the spiritual benefits (which is definitely worth the price, but still hard to do)