Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rebbe, Is Making Aliyah a Must?

Is Aliyah the only “way”? Shouldn’t every Jew simply pack his bags and move to Israel?

The Avner Institute presents an insightful reply to a professor who, depressed over his inability to live in the Holy Land, learns the Rebbe’s views on immigration, and why, for many in the modern age, the Diaspora may be the best thing.

Good Shabbos


21 Adar II 5738
Brooklyn, NY

Prof. Zeev
1601 Spring Valley Rd.
Golden Valley, MN 55422

Sholom u’Brocho:

I am in receipt of your letter, written on Purim, and in view of its contents I hasten to reply to it ahead of turn and via Special Delivery.

Following the order in your letter, I will refer to your problem of finding yourself and your wife in a depression “from the disappointment of not following through with our dreams of going to Israel.”

It is surely unnecessary to emphasize to you again that the only reason for my opinion that you ought to continue in the USA is that American Jewry, and especially the younger generation, have a priority claim on your services to help permeate them with Yiddishkeit, especially after you have had such considerable hatzlocho [success] in this area.

To be sure, the yishuv [community] in Eretz Yisroel would also benefit from your presence there, but it would not be of the same scope and quality as here. Furthermore, making aliyah [immigration] requires a certain period of adjustment and getting the proper feel of the new situation, etc., and in the present “Jet Age” every minute is of the essence, especially insofar as youth is concerned.

All the above is coupled with the consideration that doing the proper thing is the channel for contentment and inner peace and G-d’s blessings also in all personal affairs.

Pursuant to the above, my advice was further predicated on the assumption that the activities can be carried out with joy and gladness of heart, which is essential if the objectives are to be attained in fullest measure, and certainly not in a state of depression or feeling of imposition. There is no need to belabor the point to an experienced communal worker like yourself.

In light of all that has been said above—if, for any reason, the disappointment of your unfulfilled dreams of going to Eretz Yisroel creates a different situation from that I have envisaged, then of course, my advice to stay would be pointless and out of place. To put it simply, if after several months of continuing with your work here, if you still find that you cannot “snap out” of the depression, and if the reason behind it is none other than the unfulfilled dream, then, of course, you have my blessing to go to Eretz Yisroel and do what you can there.

Should you, however, decide that the cause of the present depression is after all not really the above, and hence can be eliminated, restoring you back to your former state of good cheer and confidence to be able to carry on your hafatza [outreach] activities with joy and gladness of heart—then, the second problem mentioned in your letter—the question of a house—has to be tackled.

Inasmuch as our Sages declare that “a nice dwelling broadens a person’s mind” and is conducive to greater achievements both in personal and communal affairs, you should look for a suitable house in a suitable section. As for selling all your assets, this is not advisable, nor necessary. I have at my disposal a fund for such special situations, and a loan gladly would be made available to you for the full amount that you may require to enable you to purchase a nice dwelling, as above. You may set your own terms of repayment at your convenience. As I do not wish to be involved in a hetter iska, [leniency] the loan would have to be interest-free. It would create no hardship for anyone, and you need not hesitate about it, at all.

Since your letter was written on Purim and the reply is Erev Shabbos Mevorchim Nissan, both of which are occasions for simcha [joy], may there always be true joy in your home and, to quote the Megillah, “light, joy, gladness and honor” in every sense of these terms.

With blessing,