Rabbi Berland’s New Prayer to Move to Israel.
So many of the people I’m in touch with want to move to Israel, but feel totally petrified about the whole idea of uprooting their whole lives, and trying to plonk them down again in a totally different country, however holy that country may actually be, and however much God really wants the Jews to move to Israel.
This is totally understandable. Moving country is not a simple thing, it has profound consequences for everyone involved. You can understand why so many otherwise believing Jews are twisting the words of the Torah, ignoring the whole ‘sin of the spies’ episode, and making all sorts of bizarre claims about there being no need for Jews to move to the Land of Israel.
The fear is in control. The fear is running the show.
Fear is one of the yetzer hara’s most powerful tools for keeping people away from doing the right thing. How many people stay trapped in a secular lifestyle, because they are scared of what people will say, or what’s going to be, if they take the plunge and start keeping kosher….
Or take the plunge and start keeping Shabbat….
Or take the plunge, and start dressing more modestly….
Or take the plunge, and ditch the i-Phone for something far more basic and better for the soul….
Moving to Israel is no different, except the fear is less about what people will say – because after all, it’s a new start, and you’re leaving the people who are against moving to Israel behind – and much more about what will be.
Will I find work?
Will I find friends?
Will I find a place to live?
Will my kids acclimatize OK?
And maybe the biggest fear of all:
Will I regret doing this for the rest of my life?
Again, all these fears are totally, 100% normal and reasonable to have. If we don’t acknowledge that these fears are coming from a rational place, and that they have to be addressed properly, rather than squashed or mocked, then we can’t move forward with the whole discussion of moving to Israel.
Israel is the land of emuna, it’s where a person can really start to LIVE their belief that God is running the whole world, and not just talk about it.
The answer to all of the ‘issues’ stated above – the answer to every ‘issue’ and worry a person has about moving to Israel ultimately boils down to the same thing:
God is in control. Whatever God decides, that’s what’s going to happen.
That’s a massive level of emuna to be striving for, isn’t it? And I’m not sure that I’m there myself, really, although I’d certainly like to be.
But the more we can live our life from that genuine place of really believing in Him, and really believing in concepts like reward and punishment, and really believing that 99% of the ‘yuck’ we go through in our lives we totally bring on ourselves, via our own bad middot – the more easy we will be able to deal with any potential move to Israel.
Really, there’s only one answer to ‘why move to Israel?’
I could tell you about the amazing day I spent yesterday, swimming with my family in a stream up North, together with a bunch of frum Jews with payot, and fully-clothed Beis Yaakov girls all happily splashing about.
I could tell you about last Wednesday night, when I went off to the Kotel to recite some tehillim for the Rav, and how I watched the swallows duck and dive, swooping so close to the wall before soaring back up into the heavens.
I could tell you about how everything here is kosher (I live in Jerusalem. That’s not true of everywhere in Israel, especially not Tel Aviv.)
I could tell you about the farm one of my kids went to volunteer on last week, up in the Shomron hills, that’s being started by an idealistic young Jewish couple.
I could talk about the sun, the sea, the way my soul just feels way, way happier here, and way, way more peaceful than it ever did in London.
But really, all of these things are missing the point.
The point of moving to Israel, is because it’s a mitzvah that God commanded the Jews to keep.
So maybe you’ll move here, and you really will struggle with making a living. And you really will go through years of feeling so lonely. And you really will find it very hard to ever buy your own place, especially in Jerusalem.
And maybe you won’t.
But the point is, whatever happens to us in Israel – and in New York, and in London, and in Melbourne, and in Paris – it’s all just to bring home that same message:
God is in control. Whatever God decides, that’s what’s going to happen.
If a person is really working on their emuna, then they will increasingly be living their life according to this idea wherever they happen to live.
But there’s another point to make here, and that’s the idea of having some humility, and overcoming our own arrogance. Or to put it another way, to start thinking much more about what does God want from me, and much less about what do I want from God.
We are here to serve God, not the other way around.
Again, let’s keep things real.
This is a huge spiritual level! It’s a level that we will have to struggle and fight for ad 120. It doesn’t come easily to anyone, and especially not to those people who find it very difficult to put anyone else’s needs and wants ahead of their own.
That’s why there are two things that really clear the path to moving to Israel, and those two things are:
- Working on our own bad middot
- Working on our emuna, particularly the idea that we are in control of our lives
We need to pray to get to Israel.
That’s part of the process of really getting ‘ready’ to actually live here. We need to pray to get here, and we need to pray that all the bad middot that are stopping us from moving somehow disappear. And then once we’re here, we need to carry on praying every single day, that we will continue to have the merit of staying here.
Because in Israel, all the bad middot that we fooled ourselves we didn’t have in chutz l’aretz come roaring out of the closet.
Because God wants us to finally start dealing with them, and acknowledging them, and to stop making excuses about what we are really down here to work on and fix.
BTW, that’s also why even the very process of moving to Israel can be so very taxing and upsetting. It’s all part of the preparation process for the spiritual work of developing some real humility, and understanding that God is in charge of the world, not us.
All this sounds like a lot of hard work, doesn’t it?
And honestly, it is.
You can totally understand why so many otherwise believing Jews would prefer to stay in chutz l’aretz and pretend that moving to Israel is something God doesn’t really require of anyone. It’s certainly much easier that way, it’s certainly much more comfortable.
At least, on one level.
This post isn’t for those people.
This post is for the people who are really yearning and longing to get here, and who really do know that God wants the Jewish people to be in Israel, but who can’t quite manage to overcome their fears (yet!) in order to give God what He really wants.
For those people, there is a shortcut to moving to Israel, which is basically the power of prayer. Every prayer we say on this subject, shortens the road we need to walk in order to get here. Why? Because it’s tackling the obstacles that are blocking our path at their root.
A praying person is a person who already acknowledges, at least on some level, that God is in control. A praying person is someone who knows that God is behind all the difficulties, and that if we start to clean up our own act, particularly with our own bad middot like arrogance, laziness, greed and complacency, that God will then blast so many of the ‘issues’ keeping us stuck out of the way, too.
That’s why Israel is really only acquired via prayer.
And that’s why so many of the people who actually live in Israel still haven’t really ‘got here’ spiritually, even though they moved here with their bodies, or were born here.
Those people moan all the time about what’s going on in Israel. They complain all the time about the taxes, and about other groups of Jews, and about all the ‘bad’ they see going on all around them, because the whole world is just one big mirror, and God is beaming a very unpleasant reflection straight into their faces.
Like we said above, in Israel, bad middot are amplified – both ours, and other people’s – so we’ll stop making excuses, and finally knuckle down to the work of fixing them.
Luckily, there is a shortcut. The shortcut is to get close to our true tzaddikim, to follow their advice, and to use their prayers to circumvent all the stuff that’s holding us back from being able to even describe the problem, let alone deal with it.
Rebbe Nachman’s advice to do an hour a day of hitbodedut has totally transformed my approach to the world, and it’s the single biggest ‘help’ to navigating life in Israel. You can read more about it HERE. But in the meantime, I want to share with you a prayer that Rabbi Berland just put out for people who want to move to Israel, but who are stuck, somehow.
It’s not a long prayer, but it sums up so precisely what’s really going on when people get stuck unable to make aliya, even though they admit it’s the right thing to do.
You can see the original HERE, but here’s what it says:
A Prayer to Come to Eretz Yisrael
TO MERIT COMING TO ERETZ YISRAEL WITHOUT LOSING ANYTHING. TO SELL EVERYTHING FOR ITS FULL VALUE. AND MAY I MERIT LEAVING THE DEFILEMENT OF THE LAND OF THE NATIONS THAT WE ARE IMMERSED IN. AND MAY WE SMASH ALL OF THE OBSTACLES THAT ARE MOSTLY OBSTACLES OF THE MIND.
Master of the World, who can do everything. Merit me to go up to Eretz Yisrael with sublime self-sacrifice. That I leave all of the property and all of the belongings that I have outside of Eretz Yisrael. That I not leave anything over, that I not leave any remembrance.
Rather, I should sell everything as quick as possible at full value, and not lose even one pruta by moving to Eretz Yisrael. And may I not incur any other damages by moving to Eretz Yisrael.
For we have no more strength to stay in exile, in chutz la’aretz, even for one second.
We want to go up to the land of our forefathers, that you gave to our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, “The land flowing with milk and honey”.
For Eretz Yisrael is holier than any other land in the world.
“And Hashem Your G-d chose her over all other precious things in the world.”
Please, Hashem, merit me to go up to Eretz Yisrael with self-sacrifice,
“And bring us to Your Holy Mountain.”
For we have no more strength to stay in chutz la’aretz, but on the other hand we’ve been here for so long, in the defilement of the land of the nations, and we have no idea how to free ourselves from it.
Now we are turning to You, with humble kneeling and prostration:
Help us, Hashem our G-d, to come to Eretz Yisrael in the blink of an eye! And help us to break all of the obstacles, and all of the postponements, for the main obstacle is in the mind.
May Hashem help us to give Him what He really wants, as easily as possible.
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