Now living in Israel is not difficult in the physical sense like it had once been. Personally, there is very little I can think that is missing that I could get in America (where I used to live). In Israel, the standard of living is high, medicine is better than America and most places, education is cheaper and good, and my daughters get money from the government when they give birth (no need to take out loans.) And then they are paid 16 weeks of PAID maternity leave. When I leave my job I get a month of every year I worked as pension above the pension that every job has to match funds with their employer.
The bus service is cheap and can get you anywhere and everywhere in the country. There are so many users and competition for cellphones (Israelis one of the highest users) there is always a deal that you can get. Grocery stores offer to take your groceries all the way home to you regardless which floor you live in. Gas is more expensive – but there is hope with the new gas line found in Israel’s waterway it will come down. Startups are all around inventing improving and providing jobs.
And beyond the physical – Israel is the only Jewish country in the world. The only place that has to take me. The only place I want to live.
It is possible to live anywhere and be a Jew, yes. Yet, in my personal opinion – it is much better to be a Jew in Israel than any other place. But of course I interpret being a Jew as trying to be shomer mitzvot – keeping the Torah and the laws. Only in Israel do you have the opportunity to keep more mitzvot than anywhere else; such as orla, maaser, Shmittah, even challah.
There is a Gemarah that says if you live outside of the land it is as if you serve idols. What does this mean? Obviously this can’t mean that a frum (religious) Jewish guy who keeps all the mitzvot living in Boro Park, N.Y. is somehow is an idol worshiper and a secular Jew living on a non-religious kibbutz that make sure to eat pork on Yom Kippur is somehow the more religious. So what does it mean?
In Israel you can’t just live and forget that there is a G-d in the world – either you have to do something to negate His presence or you become aware of it. Everything is “sitya d’shemiam” everything is affected by G-d’s will – there are no coincidences. Yes that it is true out of Israel – but here it is an obvious statement. Miracles are a daily occurrence. In 1956, David Ben Gurion stated (as well as many other Prime Ministers) “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles”.
There have been blatantly revealed miracles. Daniel Cohen was nearly beheaded and stabbed in his face, chest, shoulder and stomach by a terrorist earlier this year in Jerusalem. During a 4 hour operation the surgeon discovered a tumor in his large intestine which had been undetected. They proceeded to take out the tumor saving Daniel Cohen’s life twice.
In chutz l’aretz (outside of the land of Israel) you have to try harder to be a spiritual person. Things work according to the natural way one expects things to work; normal reactions, normal relationships, life in chutz l’aretz just flows naturally. To notice G-d, you need to dig deep and realize babies could come from the grave (like the plant world), just like they come from the depths of a woman’s body. Both are pretty miraculous. No?
Here are a few other regular miracles in Israel: ·
When Hamas threw missiles on us last summer many were diverted into open fields sometimes guided by the iron dome. It was revealed later, though, some missiles just changed course with no human help!
On October 2, this Succot, Eitam and Naama Henkin were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in a drive by shooting. One of the Palestinians “accidentally” shot the other terrorist in his arm, so they left before finishing killing the children as they were originally ordered.
- Last year terrorists came out of a tunnel which had been dug when the field should have been thick with wheat stalks. Yet when they came out for a planned killing, the fields had just been cleared early because of the approaching Shmittah year which would forbid farmers to harvest their produce. They were seen and neutralized on the spot.
- Miracles were told by the farmers who kept Shmittah last year. But one story explains the whole idea of how to see miracles:
One of the farmers, who are already 70, took on the mitzvah of Shmittah, the first time this past year and felt he was not only protected, but was blessed in everything. Yet right after Rosh Hashanah as he was starting to prepare his fields to go back into a growing mode; he fell off a roof of his barn.
Lying on his back with broken ribs, he was asked: “After keeping Shmittah this past year, and now when it is finally time to go and start growing you are here lying on your back. Weren’t you promised blessings? What do you think?”
“How many 70 year old men do you know has fallen off a roof; and is here to talk about it?”
Israel is an exciting place to live as a Jew. There is so much happening. The combination of the ancient and holy and new and invigorating. In spite of the terror (which is truly everywhere in the world), there is no other place I would choose to live, bring up my children or watch my grandchildren grow.