Our dream to move to Israel is finally becoming reality. We are making aliyah next month. I know it will be challenging. Any advice?
Israel is unlike any other country in the world. Every other place you could live, as long as you like it there all is fine. But with Israel it isn't enough that you like it there. Israel has to like you too.
Israel is a land with a soul of its own. It is the Holy Land, the place of divine blessing. If Israel finds you worthy, she shares her blessing with you, and no matter how hard life gets there, you will feel at home. But if you are undeserving of her holiness, you won't feel settled there for long.
The move to Israel is called making aliyah, which means "going up." This is not merely because Israel has a higher altitude to its surrounding countries. You need to go up to Israel because Israel is one step closer to heaven than the rest of the world. To reach Israel you need to be going upwards in your spiritual life. It is a land of higher spiritual frequency that has little tolerance for stagnant souls. Only those who are willing to grow can feel at home there.
So along with all the paperwork and preparations for moving, prepare your soul for the journey ahead. Take a step up in your own spirituality by choosing a new mitzvah to observe, and taking on a new project of Torah study. The aliyah ascent begins now, long before you set foot in the Holy Land.
Life in Israel is not always easy. But for a soul on the way up, it really is a land flowing with milk and honey.
New Kabbalah SeriesA Modern-Day Mystic - kabbalistic teachings from the Rebbe
Tuesdays June 1-22, 8:15pm - 9:30pm at Nefesh, 54 Roscoe St
Lunch in the City - Snippets of Jewish Genius - brilliant ideas from the greatest Torah minds Thursdays 1:00pm - 2:00pm at Arnold Bloch Leibler, Level 24, Chifley Tower, 2 Chifley Square, Sydney CBD, lunch included, all welcome
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Question of the Week:
My son's bar mitzvah is this weekend and I can't wait. But one thing upsets me - we can't take photos or video at the service on Shabbos. It just seems so wrong that such a milestone cannot be recorded. I understand that the Shabbos laws do not allow it, but surely videoing a bar mitzvah should be considered within the spirit of the law?
We are very fortunate to live in times like these, when technology allows us to view any event happening anywhere in the world any time we want. Judaism embraces these advances and encourages us to use them wisely. But there is also a down side to all modern inventions.
In the case of photography, there is a risk that capturing an event can sometimes substitute experiencing the event itself. A camera can be a great thing to hide behind. Rather than actually attending an occasion, absorbing the experience and being present, we find ourselves looking for good angles, the right lighting and photogenic moments. The whole mood is different, as people behave a certain way when they are being filmed. There can sometimes be a feeling that unless photos of an event have been posted online, the event never happened.
This is not to say that photography has no place. But not on Shabbos. Shabbos is the day of real life experiences, when we feel the immediacy of what's happening around us. Our attention is more focused, our minds more alert, our eyes more observant and our memories more acute, when we know that this scene is once in a lifetime and can never be seen again.
Rather than capturing these moments on film, capture them in your heart. Don't wait for the video, experience things as they happen. Etch the scene in your memory, engrave it on your soul and let the real life version be yours forever.
NO KABBALAH OR THURSDAY CITY CLASS NEXT WEEK - both resume first week of June
NEFESH SERVICES - 54 Roscoe St Bondi Beach
Mincha 5:00pm followed by shiur in Likkutei Torah 6:30pm - 7:15pm Shabbos Service with kids program followed by Kiddush sponsored by Maggie Kurta in honour of the birthday of her late father, Alex Rezmovics
Saturday 9am Class on Weekly Parsha 10am -12:15pm Morning Service with kids program followed byKiddush sponsored by Greg and Natalie Chesler, in honour of the naming of their baby daughter
Mincha 4:35pm folllowed by Seuda Shlishis and Maariv
8am Shachrisfollowed by breakfast and beginners Talmud
ALL NIGHT LEARNING, ICECREAM PARTY AND DAIRY LUNCH - see below
Question of the Week:
I read an article by a professor in Israel who suggests that the revelation at Mt Sinai was actually a drug-induced hallucination. I thought it was a ridiculous proposition, but it did get me thinking. How do we know that it was indeed G-d who spoke to Moses and not some mind-altering mushroom?
I read that article too. I am not sure what that professor was smoking when he wrote it.
There are ways to test whether a revelation is truly divine or just the product of human imagination. One of them is by examining the content of the message. G-d never tells you what you want to hear. When people make up their own revelations, the message they convey tends to be very convenient and comfortable. But if it is indeed G-d talking, He most probably will demand from you something you never would have asked from yourself.
Imagine Moses came down from the mountain and said, "Ok guys, here's the deal. G-d wants us to chill out. He thinks we are just fine as we are. Eat whatever you want, be loose in your relationships, and live a life that feeds your every whim and fancy. Don't fuss over petty things like being honest in your business dealings or being nice to strangers. As long as you are good deep down in your heart and are true to yourself that's fine. We are here to have fun, not stress over little moral scruples."
Had Moses brought us this message, we would be justified to suspect that G-d may not have said that. But Moses did not bring us a message of self-assurance and convenience. Rather, he came down from the mountain and said the following (not an exact quote):
"Ok guys, here's the deal. G-d created the world as an unfinished project. And we have to do the rest. We are not here to serve ourselves, we are here to serve a higher purpose. We are naturally selfish, and we have to become selfless. We are physical and hedonistic, and we must become soulful and sensitive. We need to care for the poor and down-trodden, we need to love our neighbours even when they annoy us. We need to practice acts of goodness even if we are not in the mood. We have a huge mission to achieve - to change the world by changing ourselves. There is no promise that things will be easy for us. But this is our mission. So get to work."
The demands that G-d makes of us in the Torah are steep. They challenge us to our very core. This itself shows that Moses received the Torah when He was high on the mountain, not on anything else. The Torah is not about getting high, but about living higher.
My kids keep asking me theological questions I can't answer. Yesterday my five year old insisted he wanted to know "What does G-d look like?" I had no idea what to say....
Sometimes the best thing you can tell your child is "I don't know." You teach your much child more by being open about your inability to answer a question, than if you would give a half-baked answer just to get off the hook.
If you don't know something, but fudge an answer, you teach a child that it is more important to look like you know something than to be honest and look ignorant. That's a bad message. Saying I don't know teaches that it is alright not to know everything, and it's ok to be honest about it.
Also, by saying you don't know, it shows your child that when you do have an answer, that answer is a real one. Your answers have more credibility when you only say what you really know.
But even more importantly, by saying, "Great question, I don't know the answer, let me try and find out," you teach your child that learning never stops, and everyone can learn more, even a parent. This is the greatest lesson you can teach your child. You may not have given him an answer, but you will have inspired him to ask more questions.
PS. My answer to your child's question, "What does G-d look like?": Great question, I don't know.