Thursday, June 25, 2009

So this is it!

In under three hours, I will be in the air aboard an El-Al plane. Finally. I've been waiting for this moment for a very long time, and my Aliyah is shaping up to be one of the defining moments in my life.

In Parshat Kedoshim, we are commanded "You shall be holy." But what does holy mean? One way of understanding this is to recognise that there are different types of holiness - there's holiness in time, which is why we celebrate Shabbat at a fixed period, once a week. There's also holiness in speech and action; much of Judaism is linked to acts and/or pronouncing words in a certain way in order to make them and ourselves holy.

I am making a conscious decision that I should be living my life in Eretz Yisrael, the historic homeland of the Jews, what is now Israel, the modern Jewish state. I have learned of how various Rabbis over the ages, aware of the significance of living in the land of our forefathers, worked hard so that they could live in the land of Israel. While many expressed an earnest desire to move to this part of the world, a good number were never able to fulfill their dream. In the day of cheap and fast telecommunications and air travel, it's a travesty that so many religious orthodox do not move to Israel.*

And then there's the Kedushat Hamakom, the holiness of a specific place. Much like at a Jewish wedding ceremony, there's a wedding canopy, and within that canopy the bride circles the groom (seven times), a parallel can be drawn with Eretz Yisrael and the inner circle of Jerusalem (which intriguingly rests upon seven hills). Living in the land of Israel is an integral part of the Jewish faith, and though we can observe Jewish law outside of Israel, as the the famous commentator the Rambam stated, it is only considered an education, an act of preparation for performing the Mitzvot in Eretz Yisrael, as was intended. in the concept of Kedusha, holiness. When one is in Israel, he can fully observe Jewish law by acting in the right manner, at the right time, in the right place.

So that's the religious reason why I'm moving. Not that I need to reasons, (the above is good enough,) I have another: Jews cannot remain outside of Israel much longer. I say this as a statement of fact; in every single country in Europe where Jews have lived, there has either an expulsion or, at the very least, blood libels and massacres of the local Jewish population. Much as American Jewry likes to portray Britain and France as cauldrons of hate and deep-seated anti-semitism, they're not. Unfortunately though, it would seem that these countries are becoming ever more liberal, and their values are becoming eroded as extremists from all sectors of society gang up on the Jews. More and more, we see the so-called liberal elements of society team up with the Islamic fundamentalists in their hatred for Israel, and by extension, Judaism.

Jews over the last few hundred years, have worked tremendously hard for their place in Britain, and have been richly rewarded with genuine acceptance by many parts of society. Unfortunately, all this hard work can be easily undone, and I don't see how Jewish leaders can sustain this status of recognition for much longer. As long as the Jewish people live in the land of other nations, we will never be more than guests. At times we will be like the rich aunt who, despite all her various inadequacies, is tolerated by her nephew as he knows that he will be rewarded with a £20 note with each visit, and sometimes we are the guest who has overstayed our welcome and in such cases, it's only be a matter of time till hints are dropped and maybe even a firm mention of our departure is proposed by our host country. In only one country can Jews be safe in the knowledge that they can be free to practice Judaism without prejudice or mistreatment. In only country is it possible for a Jew to live free from the prospect of harassment by virtue of his identity. I don't agree with Rabbi Meir Kahane's politics, but as he succinctly said, "And it is because we became so upset over upsetting you, dear world, that we decided to leave you - in a manner of speaking - and establish a Jewish state."

So this is it. Destination: Israel!

* This is not a criticism. Each person has their own reasons, and I am in no place to judge.


  1. Have an amazing Aliyah!

    Leshana haba bi'Yerushalayim for all of us!

  2. Beautifully said. Hope your aliyah is smooth. Welcome!