06 February 2011

Answering "M's" Question

2 Adar`א

M said...

Hello Devash,
What do you recommend for a Jew that is a Israeli Citizen who lived abroad for over 10 years and is only a Toshav Chozer....really no rights like an Oleh other then tax break and customs break. Add to that an upside down mortgage (house worth less then paid for), no money in savings, credit cards bills, car bills on top of mortgage payment and other misc. bills and 3 kids. How does someone in that situation move to Israel? Can not even afford the plane ticket and has no family to go to in Israel. This Jew does have faith and loves HKB"H, but is just too poor to go. What do you suggest to do?

You see Jews all over the world are panicking but they can at least do Aliya....some can't, what is a Rabbi like Nir Ben Arzi suggest to do? If all Jews can make Aliya on there own and even Israeli citizens can return and can they should right away...I know we are all in danger, but destitute Jews or sick Jews that take care of elderly parents for example, can't. What are they to do? I guess just trust in HKB"H to come and pick them up, right?

Please answer. M
First of all, let this be a lesson to those who would make aliyah and then after two or three years turn around and go back. (Not to imply that this is what “M” did. But if you think it is difficult coming the first time, try doing it two or three times and I speak from personal experience.)

Get this if you get nothing else: Jews of the West are building homes and lives on a slowly sinking ship. The end is coming, faster every day. It’s not by accident that they say the housing market is “under water”! People speak about aliyah as if they actually have a choice. Believe me, that is only an illusion. The only choice you have is to do it the easy way or the hard way, sooner as opposed to later.

"...I shall take you out of the peoples, and I shall gather you from the lands in which you were scattered, with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with poured out fury. And I shall bring you to the wilderness of the peoples, and I shall contend with you there face to face. As I contended with your forefathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I contend with you, says the Lord God. And I shall cause you to pass under the rod, and I shall bring you into the transmission of the covenant. And I shall separate from you those who rebel and those who transgress against Me; from the land of their sojournings I shall take them, but to the land of Israel they shall not come, and you will know that I am the Lord.

...But on My holy mount, on the mountain of the height of Israel, says the Lord God. There all the house of Israel-yea, all of them-will serve Me in the land; there I will accept them, and there I will require your heave offerings and the first of your food with all your hallowed things. With a pleasing savor I shall accept you when I take you out of the nations, and I shall gather you from the lands in which you were scattered, and I shall be hallowed through you before the eyes of the nations. And you will know that I am the Lord when I bring you to the land of Israel, to the land that I lifted My hand to give to your forefathers." (Yechezkel 20)

There is no question that there are Jews who feel that they truly cannot come, but I guarantee you that they will come in the end, because Hashem has promised that He will not leave any behind. As far as sick parents go, are there no doctors or hospitals or nursing homes in Eretz Yisrael? And they will be better cared for as Jews. If tomorrow, the Jews woke up in 1938 Germany, knowing what was coming, I guarantee you that they would find a way to leave. But the trouble with Western Jews is that despite what their eyes see and what their ears hear, they honestly don't believe that the exile will ever end. And forget about any belief in yishuv ha'aretz as a mitzvah. There are rabbis telling people all day, every day, that it's simply a matter of personal choice.

(Hang tight, M, I promise I'm getting to your question.)

Recently, the Mishpacha magazine did a feature on aliyah and one man wrote a letter of protest, not even embarrassed to sign his name to it. I excerpt it here (without the name) for your edification:

...I was not only disappointed [with the issue] - I was offended!

Aliyah is a real issue and topic, to be sure, but an entire magazine issue revolving around it? How presumptuous of you! Do you honestly think that your readers spend hard-earned money and invest precious time reading to be insulted this way? What if, for whatever reason, aliyah isn't relevant to me? Do I not deserve a single article that speaks to me? [Note: I read the issue in question and all the regular weekly articles were there and did not deal with aliyah at all.] Or has Mishpacha decided for us that aliyah is relevant to evey single Jew, and thus it is our responsibility to know all about it? Do you really think I buy the magazine to feel like I'm being preached to?

Forgive my harsh tone, but this week's issue has left me reeling, and perhaps underscores the entire "supremacist" attitude of those who have made aliyah, the patronizing way that they view us "still here" in comfortable, secure America, as second-class citizens.

He might as well say that Yehoshua ben Nun and Calev ben Yefuneh had a "supremacist" and "patronising" attitude toward the other ten spies. This is the voice of a rebellious son in the extreme. "What if aliyah is not relevant to me?" Aliyah is relevant to every Jew in this generation. Every Jew belongs in Eretz Yisrael. In this generation, the whole Jewish world is divided into those who've made aliyah and those who have not yet made aliyah. Those who've already made aliyah have passed a major test of Jewish life. There is no question about that. That they call to their brothers to join them, assuring them that the water is fine and the land is good is an act of goodwill and caring, not the evil thing so many on the "wrong" side of the ocean are trying to accuse them of. If you are one of those who have this bad, mad attitude, get over it! It's HKB"H you have to contend with and you are already on the losing side. Submit your will to His, and get used to the idea that you have no more choice in this matter. The world as we've always known it is ending. A new reality is dawning.

Now, tachlis. "M", I'm not a rabbi, so I'm not speaking here halachicly. The Jews have had since 9/11 to get their affairs in order and make their aliyah arrangements. All during that time, Nefesh b'Nefesh operated offering cash incentives and making it easier than ever to make aliyah from the West. I don't mean to be insulting to you "M" , but we've arrived to a time when we have to speak very frankly to one another. When you left Israel at that time, it was the worst thing to do and now it is going to cost you to correct that mistake. There are perfectly legal things you can do to get out of the situation that your bad judgment created for you. People all across America are doing it. I don't see why the Jews shouldn't also take advantage of it.

You can stop making your house payments and let the house go back to the bank. I know of people who have been two years in their homes without making a payment. They are banking that money in the meantime. In your case, you can use it to buy your tickets and get a fresh start in Israel. Cars can be given back to the bank and bankruptcy can eliminate the credit card debt. It doesn't take care of student debt, but that payment can be deferred for a good period of time in order to allow you to get resettled.

So many people see parnasah as the biggest obstacle, but really it's lack of faith that is the biggest obstacle. The same Hashem who provides your paycheck in chu"l can find you in EY and deliver it personally.

The only people I see who have a real problem without a good solution are those who are divorced and paying child support or can't remove their children from the country without the court's approval. Those who do not lie to Hashem when they pray every day to return to Zion, who truly want to come but really can't, if they ask for His help, Hashem will provide some way for them.

Also, "M", I've heard this from others as well, but no Jew should ever say "I have no family in Israel." All Jews are family and even more so in Eretz Yisrael.

The following links should prove helpful:

Drastic Drop in Returning Israelis

...Absorption Minister Sofa Landver is now calling on the government to fund a second wave of benefits.

“We’re at a crossroads today on the issue of aliya and returning Israelis,” she said at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “The State of Israel must take advantage of the window of opportunity that has been created and invest much greater funds in taking advantage of the enormous human potential available to us. We have to act before it’s too late.”

In response to the new figures, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday ordered the establishment of a joint committee of Absorption Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office officials that will develop a new benefits program for returnees within 30 days and present the plan to the government for funding.

Spending on returnee benefits enjoys a broad consensus among government officials, especially in the powerful Budgets Department of the Finance Ministry, because returnees tend to be highly skilled, educated and of working age, including a higher-than-average percentage of academics, scientists and those working in technical professions.

Jewish Agency reaches out to Israelis abroad
Tourism fair to offer 2,000 jobs

"M", I wish you much mazal, brachah and hatzlachah to bring your family and return to the only Jewish homeland.

With love from your Israeli "Savta,"


  1. I have to admit, its hard to disagree with this post.

  2. What a disappointment your answer to the question was, from someone whose desperation emanated from their words. Kindness and INFORMATION would have sufficed but you opportunistically rebuked.

  3. Devash: I have friends in Israel. They could not survive there without their weekly tzedaka payments that come from friends/family in Australia.
    I'm sure this is true for many people who have made Aliyah.
    You say that Hashem will deliver funds personally once Aliyah is made, but we see with our own eyes that this is not the case....

    We see many rabbis coming to collect funds from American, European and Australian Jews: and they are in desperate situations, they cannot fund their yeshivot or feed their families.... why? If Hashem is sending their funds personally, why do they need to come to us?

    I wish I could believe that what you say is true, but unfortunately the reality shows us a different picture.

  4. Moriyah---I'm sorry if it came across that way. No rebuke was intended. My aim was to point out the seriousness of making yeridah. It's a much more serious move than most people would imagine. It carries severe consequences which it is beneficial to others to point out to save them from making the same mistake. I'm sure "M" did not take it the wrong way.

  5. Actually Devash makes some excellent points that most people don't consider...

    - If you're leaving the US then maintaining a "perfect" credit rating loses value. So taking strong financial actions like bankruptcy, abandoning mortgages or settlements on outstanding debts isn't going to hurt you (because you're not going to be in the US).

    - Neither the Sochnut nor Nefesh b'Nefesh will help toshav chozrim. But you do get a lift, they've removed most of the penalties and added a few small benefits.

    - If you're like most Jewish families in the US, you can't actually afford to pay full tuitions or camp, etc. Having those things in Israel as part of the system is significant.

    - And if you're like many in the US, then you're faced with possible job losses, unemployment or underemployment.

    - Oh, and if you've got kids that cash bump from the per-child tax credit also is a lump of money that can start the process.

    BUT, it's not easy. Did it this way.

  6. Devorah---How do they know they couldn't make it. Have they ever tried? Think about what you are implying, that Hashem can't or won't provide for these people? There are a few possibilities to explain this.

    1) Their friends or families, etc are the current means by which Hashem is providing (and those people receive a special bracha on their own parnasa for supporting Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael), but that is not to say that Hashem does not have an alternative means of support ready and waiting in the event that those friends or families themselves make aliyah.

    2) I have also known people who came and went back saying that they could not support themselves and I know for a fact in every instance it was not that Hashem did not provide, but that He did not provide to the standard that these people wanted. They wanted to transplant their former standard of living to EY and that was not Hashem's will for them here. They were unable to accept that.

    3) I know people who live at a very high standard because they are being supported from abroad and because they've had no need to work, they've never even tried to find a job.

    4) Those who shnor for yeshivas make it their job to shnor. And until now, it probably was, but now that the sour economny is forcing people to cut back on their giving, the yeshivas are simply going to have to start getting used to the idea of men working for part of the day and learning the other part of the day. Fulltime learning is great when you can do it, but if you can't, better to work and learn in EY than to learn 100% of the time in chu"l. (And at this point in time, will they be able to continue fulltime there, too? I doubt it.)

    So, b'kitzur. Hashem abolutely does provide for everyone but many times it's not the way we'd like or choose. Anyone who comes and says he won't work a job, even part time or who won't do a particular kind of work, or won't work for less than so much money....This one cannot accuse Hashem of failing him in the parnasa dept.

    I can tell you that for myself and my five children, in fifteen years, no one has ever been without a job, a roof over their heads and food to eat.

  7. Thank you, Akiva, for your helpful suggestions.