An Aliyah Harp Concert and Musical Event

andes-mountains-06An Aliyah Harp Concert and Musical Event

by Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Can you imagine having a harp concert in your home with its heavenly strains wafting through your airspace? It happened yesterday, in our beautiful home in Tzfat. I planned it specifically for Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the new, dynamic Jewish month of the giving of the Torah. I wanted something soulful and special for this auspicious day.

It was magical, soulful and yes, the harp concert was a definite Aliyah. I call it an Aliyah musical event because the word Aliyah means ascent and music by itself is always a big event because of its inherent transformative power. Additionally, every woman at the gathering had a soul ascent, while listening to the soulful strains of the new compositions of the Aliyah harpist. The harpist, Rachael Rosenbaum, was the guiding force behind the family making Aliyah.

As a result of the new soul she acquired when making Aliyah, and the spiritual fertility she tapped into, each of her compositions touches upon new soulful revelations which has been translated into both song and harp compositions. They were exquisite…an Aliyah gift from Hashem because He loves showering gifts upon His children when they come home.

I couldn’t stop gazing at the harp which is an instrument of sublime beauty. It has been revered throughout history for its heavenly sounds and it was in my home, lovingly played by an Aliyah musician, a woman who personifies the deeper aspects of inspiration embedded in the act of making Aliyah.  It was such a privilege and joy to listen to her soulful compositions in the presence of so many other women who had also embraced Aliyah.

Here are some of the titles of her compositions with explanations that follow: “Rest” She writes, “One afternoon, shortly after making Aliyah, I saw clouds in the sky that looked like a legion of angels flying together. I felt that G-d had sent them over our heads to protect us….like His hands over the heads of his children, blessing our choice to return home”. The tenor of this beautiful piece was gentle and ethereal…very mesmerizing.

Another piece was titled, “You and Your Nation.” Rachael writes about this piece: “A heartfelt, searching patchwork of a song written as an attempt to grasp for meaning in the darkness of the insane violence that has struck our people on the streets. Beseeching G-d for His protection as well as the clarity to stand up and do what is right, just, and nationally self-protective.” This piece swept you up with the feeling of a plaintive cry, yet it also had a majestic ring to it.

Another piece was titled, “Daughter of Israel” and she writes, “This is a joyful song about the role of the Jewish woman in leading her family home to the Holy Land! G-d has opened the door, Will you walk through?” This composition and song rang with a grand and powerful feeling and yet a questioning feeling too. It gave pause for reflection with the question….Why wouldn’t every Jew run through that door?

In a deeply insightful article, titled, “The Harp as an Instrument of Healing”, Julie Smith states the following:

“The music of the harp has a way of opening the heart. There are many technical reasons about how the vibrations of the harp can resonate with the body, but the more straightforward, compelling reason is that the harp has been shown to have the ability to open the heart. Music opens us in ways that are gentle and invisible. It is the back door to the soul. It slips in unannounced and is the Spirit’s vehicle or ambassador for communion and healing. Music bypasses barriers and resistances that we create emotionally and mentally and seems to be able to slip in and sit in witness with us as we navigate troubled waters. Music creates a type of entrainment that allows us to rise above current levels of functioning and brings us into harmony with a greater purpose and sense of being. The whole idea of harmony is that we are in tune with one another–that we fit into a greater picture–that we each sound a unique note and are able to participate in the greater symphonic work of at-one-moment. Music helps us to remember that we are one. It tunes us up and draws us together and in the process helps to heal our sense of separation.

In this sense, music can speak for us and through us when words fail and fall short. Music gives voice to the unspeakable through an instrument like the harp. The music of the harp creates an atmosphere of peace that sweeps away fear, depression, desperation, and hopelessness. It creates an opening for healing to take place.

When music opens the heart of a person it creates the space for healing to happen, and this is how music becomes the vehicle for healing, which is about creating spiritual wholeness.”

After reading her explanation of the deeper power of music in general and the harp in particular, I began to understand what had transpired at the Aliyah harp concert.

The artist through the strings of the harp itself, along with the words and music, opened up the women present and we began to express soulful concepts and beautiful flowing Torah concepts. It brought us such a sense of harmony and oneness. No one wanted the concert to end…it was a very deep experience. Perhaps because it was an intimate setting and everyone was vested in being present. As one woman would share a thought, in between songs, others would comment and add to the thoughts…it was definitely a symphonic at-one-moment as Julie Smith relates. The music absolutely created an atmosphere of peace and joy…it was palpable.

The stunning and very real concepts expressed by Julie Smith relating to music completely personify the experience of Aliyah, where the Nation of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the Land of Israel are one. Yes, unequivocally, Aliyah opens us up in soulful ways that are gentle and invisible, exactly like the harp…the only difference however is as Julie Smith stated, whereas music is the back door to the soul, Aliyah is the front door to the soul…..Rachael Rosenbaum showed us that clearly in her Aliyah harp concert, as her soul spirited music moved us upwards to heavenly realms and kept us earth-bound to our Jewish oneness. It felt great. Wish you could have been here!

May we speedily merit to hear the strains of the Leviim in the Beit haMikdash

Rachael is currently living in Ma’alot and her email is wellspringsing@gmail.com.

She is available for concerts.

  facebook_882928399Spiritual Aliyah: Soulful Wisdom for New Immigrants to the Homeland

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

New Immigrants to the Jewish homeland!  Aliyah Jews!

Awaken to the spiritual connections peeking out from amidst our G-d given land inheritance,

As your Aliyah journey progresses and you meander through the back doors of bygone eras of Jewish history and the front doors of modern Jewish history.

Don’t be put off by ego challenges that attempt to rob you of the very soul depth you will soon discover.

Wait a moment in time and see how your life will unfold with the countless blessings awaiting the arrival of your emotional maturity and deepening connections.

Rise up and claim your greatness, as you shed the shrouds of a dying past in foreign lands to embrace your alive future in G-ds beloved garden.

Watch yourself grow, like a flower seed planted in the ground, as you water yourself with the Torah teachings that will arrive at your doorstep like manna from Heaven.

Get to know your true self, as your soul becomes aroused, when you uncover the wonders of life in the holy land amidst the backdrop of Biblical history.

Hold your heart tenderly and lift it up, as your breathe in the air of the holy land which makes you wise.

Do not allow fear of our neighbors to swallow up your soul strength, for it is within your G-d given power to claim your power anew and re-affirm your faith path to greatness,

As dormant sparks of the DNA of the matriarchs and patriarchs arouse you to your true Jewish nature through new recognition of your gifts and strengths,

Which you can share with the nation, who has long awaited your inner birthing process to become manifest.

And then shout gleefully, as you arrive at the army headquarters of the King of Kings, for your arrival in the land directs you straight to the induction ceremony,

Where, you will bask in the glow of being called a member of the regiment of His loyalists as you don the garb of warrior for G-d,

For G-ds homeland needs protection and you are privileged to do so.

Become aware that the Torah of the Land will whisper in your developmental soul ear as the energetic force field called Zion reverberates through your days and nights.

Quiet your mind, so you can feel your prayers ascend straight to heaven for the first time and jump for joy like a child receiving a long-awaited, tasty treat.

In order to achieve your full measure of success, allow your heart, mind and soul to caress the inner soul awakening within,

And bask in the success you are about to achieve, as your life purpose becomes more fully revealed to you.

Dance with joy as you allow your newfound re-awakening to overcome limitations of the past.

Allow the spirit force of Zion to influence and beautify your every move like a skilled dancer performing a graceful dance routine.

Embrace your destiny as the cosmic forces embedded in taking up residence in the holiest place in the world creates new opportunities that restore your balance and harmony, as you align with your birth path destiny once and for all.

Allow the greatness of our nation, which has manifested throughout its glorious yet painful history, to liberate any darkness or negativity.

Contemplate the removal of your spiritual poverty as you return home and forge a connection to your inner soul flame whose source is divine like the holy land.

Tap into your inner character of holiness, as you return to your G-d given everlasting inheritance.

And finally, tap into your inner aspirations to live according to the Torah’s holy and lofty ideals, so you can feel the towering stature of what it means to be a Jew in the Land….an Aliyah Jew on an upward climb to greatness.

Welcome home and may you benefit from this soulful wisdom!

 

The Sacred Act of Building up Israel

pic 3The Sacred Act of Building up Israel
The Center of Holiness in the World

 

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

If anyone had told me that soon after making Aliyah, my husband and I would be Building up Israel, not just with our Aliyah but with the sacred act of building a home on virgin soil in the Holy Land, I would have either cried in awe or laughed in disbelief. I certainly would have told them they were crazy! As it turned out, my husband and I are the crazy ones, Baruch HaShem. Honestly, the thought never entered my mind and was never a dream or desire I had ever identified.  It wasn’t an idea that I could actually fathom but that’s not the case with my holy husband.  He knows how to go after what he truly wants and he dreams big. He made the decision and I went along with it. During the construction, he tossed coins on the ground with the intention that our house be built on the solid foundation of tzedakah (charity).

The process of building our home began with ease but as it progressed, big challenges set in. It was emotionally disruptive, to say the least and brought us into tense situations, where we didn’t know what to do or where to turn. It tested us on many levels but ultimately, through the challenges, we learned about ourselves, about Israelis and about getting the help you need in Israel. We survived the process and ended up with a little Gan Eden (Garden of Eden) home. We live on a dunam (1/4 acre) of land that overlooks Mt. Hermon (the highest spot in Israel), the Hula Valley and the Golan—three amazing locations in Israel, each with their own unique beauty and charm.

DSCF2052The vista is spectacular! The quiet is other worldly and deliciously soul satisfying. It has the feel of a spectacular retreat center which is removed from the world. I have no words to describe the intense emotion of watching your home being built in the holiest place in the universe; the place where the physical meets the spiritual creating amazing nuclear spiritual explosions which reverberate throughout the land and, actually, the world. The crazy part was, I had no idea that building in the Holy Land is an enormous mitzvah which brings about spiritual unifications and rectifications. No one taught me which is why I feel compelled to share our experience with you.

The land of Israel, which is divine in nature, represents the sphere of Kingship (Malchut). The sacred act of building in the Holy Land is part of a Divine process. This act draws down divine fulfillment into actuality which comes as a result of great effort, labor, cost and self sacrifice on the part of the builders. These actions are pleasing and acceptable to G-d for they create a receptacle for Him below. This allows Israel, both the people and the land, which is a spiritual entity, to become filled with spiritual content.

Tanna DeVei Eliyahu says,  “Israel is the delight of the world!  The Holy One Blessed Be He desires our labor and our deeds. Performing the positive commandment of settling and building the land enhances the upper heavenly spheres and brings an influx of good into the world.”

Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal zt’zl, a true gadol b’Yisrael and holy man, may his death be avenged, in his Book, “Eim HaBanim Semeichah” written in 1943, stated, “fulfilling the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael by constructing homes, and other buildings, planting trees and transforming the land into productive crops, and cultivating vineyards achieves unification in the upper realms, and rectifies the supernal sphere of Kingship. G-d’s name is glorified by today’s builders as well as all the builders of the past especially the early pioneers.”

He goes on to state, ”Today’s pioneers (meaning in the 1900’s) have caused the settlement to grow and expand, and it is impossible to retract or negate their actions, regardless of their intentions, for we benefit from them.( I believe the same applies today) Therefore, even if transgressions were committed in the process (G-d forbid), the mitzvah was still fulfilled in all its strength and vigor, in both a revealed and esoteric sense. Thus, it is clear that the Omnipresent desires the work of today’s builders and accepts their efforts before His glorious throne with love and abounding affection.”

Dovid Rosoff, in his outstanding book, “Land of our Heritage” states, “The two ingathering’s (Joshua’s and Ezra’s) were similar in that both initiated profound changes in the actual dust of the earth whereby the mysterious process of sanctification was begun. Their mere presence in the Land awakened the spiritual potency of the earth which had lain dormant under foreign rule.” How much more-so today when Jewish sovereignty is present over the majority of the Land.

Remember, the Land of Israel lay barren for 2,000 years and conquerors tried to cultivate its once fertile soil but to no avail. The Land’s unwillingness to yield to foreign rulers is a prime example of its faithfulness to the Jewish nation and its inner holiness. Only with the return of the Jewish people to their Land, their Divine inheritance, hand-picked by G-d Himself, has the Land become blessed and bountiful. The desert blooms and we have become a major exporter of fruits and flowers. All this has come about through the process of building. Rav Kook says, “The meeting between the Land of Israel and the people of Israel gives life and strength to both as our dry bones come to life.” He tells us that “at the core of the bond between the Land of Israel and the Nation of Israel, is a unique spiritual holiness granted by G-d which they share in common.” (From the book, “Lights on Orot.”)

From these teachings, one can better understand, THE SACRED ACT OF BUILDING UP ISRAEL, THE CENTER OF HOLINESS IN THE WORLD.

Breaking News Israel news reveals an amazing opportunity to build up Israel “Brick by Brick.”  The website is www.buildupisrael.com. You choose the project and dedicate the actual bricks and stones. This effort presents an amazing opportunity for the world to participate in an incredible divine mitzvah which truly helps the nation.

The prophet Isaiah teaches that the Almighty promises to help rebuild the Holy Land and its cities. For those of you who have not made Aliyah, why not come home and become HIS partner in the sacred act of building? For those of you who have made it home, Celebrate your great good fortune and Build, Build, Build all you can. WE did and our lives and the lives of our nation have never been the same.

With blessings to claim your Divine inheritance and Bless G-d and your nation, Ariella Bracha

An Aliyah Success Story

CityLights_1600An Aliyah Success Story

Hillel Fuld has some advice for prospective olim

Everyone loves a success story especially when it touches upon the topic of Aliyah. Hillel Fuld made Aliyah in 1993 from Queens, New York, at the age of 15 and had a difficult time adjusting. His main challenges at the time were the differences he experienced both culturally and materialistically, as well as, being away from his friends. Initially he was bitter about the move his parents made and as he got older, he often spoke about returning to America, but something happened along the way of growing up. He maintained a steadfast devotion to Israel in spite of his issues and finally reached a place where he decided to make the most of his life. This mental shift changed his life dramatically and he has become a full time evangelist not only for Israel but also for the hi-tech sector in Israel.

Rivkah Lambert-Adler wrote in a JPost article titled, “Technology Shadchan,” (matchmaker) “Fuld trained as a technical writer after college and got a great job right away only to find that technical writing wasn’t for him. For the fun of it, he started writing about technology for the general population and from there companies contacted him to write about their new products. Today, he works as Chief marketing officer for ZULA, a technology company that offers integrated tools to enable work teams to communicate more efficiently. He doesn’t sell Zula technology. His job is to build goodwill in the technology arena. He meets people behind Israeli Tech start-ups as well as investors every day. Therefore, through his contacts and connections, he plays technology matchmaker, which he loves.”

Fuld is an observant Jew, a family man and a one man job placement office as he helps people (without compensation) get jobs in Israel. He is extremely active in social media with a huge following and he has something important to tell prospective immigrants. In the JPost article, Fuld relates that his life experiences in Israel have led him to conclude that “Life in Israel, on a materialistic level is competitive with life in America. The common perception among American Jewry is that you have to sacrifice quality of life when you make Aliyah. That was the truth in the past, but if you are willing to work hard, you can really make Aliyah and be as materialistically spoiled as you want. He says, I am still in touch with friends in America, and they don’t have a quality of life that is above what I have, especially with the difference in tuition in America. There are things that are difficult here, but as a whole, there’s not much of a gap anymore. There are flourishing communities with tons of English speaking immigrants and at the end of the day, the gap is pretty much closed.”

His advice for parents making Aliyah with teens is as follows: “Everything is much better here than ever before in all facets of life. With Skype and Facetime, you really don’t have to disconnect from your friends. And there are many cool factors in the Tech world which are very big with teenagers. Show them the positive side he stresses. Amazing things are happening here in Israel, amazing things that would appeal to teenagers. There is no big company in the world of technology that doesn’t have a presence in Israel. In order to succeed, just focus on the positive and not the negative.”

Fuld credits his astonishing professional success to Israel itself and feels he would never have been able to build a career of this type in America. He states that on a weekly basis, he gets job offers from America but he always turns them down. “I love Israel he says and I wouldn’t be able to achieve in the US what I have achieved here. He also feels it would be spitting in the face of his parents who sacrificed to bring him here since Aliyah was their dream their whole life.” The article ends with Hillel saying,” If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would not change a thing. Israel is the most amazing place on earth to live and I feel very blessed and that’s the bottom line.”

What else need I say? The truth speaks for itself. Israel is the land of opportunity, reward, blessing, growth and soul satisfaction and, as we learned from Hillel, great income. Come and partake of its bounty and blessings.

For information about Israel’s thriving high-tech industry check out this video.

http://www.israel21c.org/5-best-tours-to-see-israeli-high-tech-in-action/

 

With Blessings of love, light and of course health and safety, Ariella Bracha

 

 

Aliyah and Connecting to the Specialness of Eretz Yisrael

lech lecha2Aliyah and Connecting to the Specialness of Eretz Yisrael

Lech Lecha

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Making Aliyah is, in my opinion, the only means by which to constantly connect to the specialness of Eretz Yisrael. It affords you the greatest opportunity to create a profound shift in awareness that can transform your consciousness and allow you to operate on a new spiritual frequency. It enables a leap to an entirely new level of being that is intrinsically connected to living in the Holy land.

Rabbi Moshe Lichtman’s dynamic book, “Eretz Yisrael in the Parasha” has become my new favorite Shabbat book because it connects the land of Israel with the weekly Torah portion. In doing so, it creates a new and awe inspiring appreciation for living in the Land G-d chose for His beloved nation and connects the reader to the extraordinary specialness of living in Eretz Yisrael.

The Rav points out in parasha Beresheit that at the very beginning of creation G-d designated Eretz Yisrael as a special land, even before the Jewish people came on the scene of history.

The Rav ascertains in Parasha Noach that Chazal states that rain did not fall in Eretz Yisrael but rolled in from the other lands. He quotes the Ba’al HaTanya (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi) saying, “G-d’s main purpose in bringing the flood was to purify the world from its corruption and therefore the flood served as a mikveh of sorts. Eretz Yisrael was spared the downpour of fiery rain because it is intrinsically pure and holy and virtually impossible to defile or corrupt.” This statement speaks volumes as to why a Jew should reside in the Holy Land especially if one is striving to become holy.

As we arrive at parasha Lech Lecha, and Rabbi Lichtman continues observing the significance of the land and reminds us that the main theme of the parasha is entirely related to Eretz Yisrael. Rav Lichtman states, “Rav Meir Yechiel of Ostrovtza points out that HaShem’s command to Avraham…… Go forth from your land to the land I will show you (12.1) constitutes the first mitzvah ever given to a Jew! Thus, the first thing G-d ever said to Avraham, the first Jew was, “Leave your birthplace and immigrate to MY SPECIAL LAND.” It is interesting to note there was no introduction from G-d, no burning bush, just “Lech Lecha.” Rav Lichtman poses the question: why did G-d chose to begin Judaism with “GO FORTH TO THE LAND?”

Noted author of the famous book, The Kuzari, Yehuda HaLevi provides a beautiful and profound answer: “You find that after Avraham, the most exceptional person of his time, climbed the ladder of perfection and became eligible to cling to G-dliness, he was transferred from his land to ERETZ YISRAEL, the only place he could reach absolute perfection.”

The Rav continues: “in other words, although Avraham had attained high levels of perfection outside the Land, G-d knew that he would be able to fulfill his destiny and attain true perfection ONLY in Eretz Yisrael!”

He then explains the significance of going straight to the Holy Land. Avraham had to leave the defiled lands of exile and enter his natural habitat, where he could thrive and grow and produce offspring that could do the same in spite of the fact that he was doing some very important things in chutz l’aretz. G-d absolutely knew he could achieve greater accomplishments in eretz HaKodesh, the land set aside for the Jewish nation.

Rav Lichtman summarizes stating that “no matter how high one can climb on the ladder of spiritual perfection in Chutz L’aretz, one can climb higher in G-ds Chosen Land.” He says, “Yes, the first Divine command ever given to a Jew was Lech Lecha because Eretz Yisrael is the prerequisite for all Judaism.”

I would highly recommend this book for the enhancement of your Shabbat Torah and especially if you are a Lover of Zion. You can purchase it at Israel 365 store.

In the merit of Lech Lecha and all its deeper meanings that we hold sacred, may we receive G-dly protection for us and all of Klal Yisrael especially in G-ds beloved holy Land. May we never take for granted the enormous privilege of living in Eretz Yisrael and all that it has to offer, as we perceive so profoundly from this Torah portion.

Shabbat Shalom, Ariella Bracha

Aliyah, Teshuva and Israelis: What do They Share in Common?

3-questions-for-lifeAliyah, Teshuva and Israelis: What do They Share in Common?

Aliyah, teshuva and Israelis: What do they share in common? They can be:  Stressful! Scary! Humbling! Frustrating! Challenging! Hard work! Anger-Inducing!  But ultimately all three can bring us into greatness if we open ourselves up to truth.

When the initial shock of making Aliyah begins to settle in and you recognize you are living in the Middle East, surrounded by enemies, struggling to figure out every aspect of your life, one could say a pushy, direct Israeli who doesn’t mince words, is the last challenge you want. However, when you begin to understand that your association with him holds the key to your future success, it becomes vital to accept and appreciate them in order to solicit their help in moving through the maze of adjustments. In order to be successful in each endeavor, self–abnegation and reaching out for help and guidance holds the key to successful Aliyah, teshuva and learning to deal with Israelis.

Since we are in the ten days of teshuva, and the hot blog topic for many new immigrants appears to be the challenge of dealing with Israelis, I wanted to present the connection it shares with both doing teshuva, as well as making Aliyah, in the hopes that as we go into Yom Kippur or settle in as new immigrants, we make peace with all three.

Jews, as new immigrants exposed to Israelis for the first time, clearly state their aversion to being identified as Israeli, due to negative perceptions associated with Israelis. Perhaps as facts are revealed and our deeper understanding shifts, we may find teshuva is in order, due to the negative judgments we have placed on the host citizens of our new country—the place we now call home.

Aliyah, teshuva and learning to deal with Israelis are processes, whose end result is not achieved overnight. They require knowledge, awareness, honesty and a willingness to suspend self, in order to achieve a new way of being, as we strive to become better Jews by serving G-d and our nation in our ancient homeland. Maintaining shalom is imperative throughout each process, as the second Temple was destroyed as a result of baseless hatred. We have too many enemies including our yetzer hara, to create undue animosity between ourselves and our new Israeli family, as we work at settling in.

In an online business article about Europeans working with different cultures, the following observations are made based on their perception of Americans:

Americans consider themselves to be: professional, polite, boundary conscious, and respectful to others.

However, other cultures perceived Americans as: bureaucratic, artificial, self-indulgent, politically correct, people pleasers who apologize all the time, lack personal power, are spoiled as well as passive-aggressive.

On the other hand, their observations of Israelis were:

Israelis consider themselves to be: caring, creative, direct and honest while other nationalities perceived them as arrogant, stubborn, rude and pushy.

Interesting? Which perception is correct? It depends on the individual because the truth lies with our perceptions and experiences based on our own core values and personal bias. The article clarified that as time went on each group learned to value and appreciate the positive values inherent in the other cultural group, in spite of their initial negative judgment and perceived differences.

On November 29th, 1947 ,when the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish state, it was the ancestors of today’s Israelis who worked through the great struggles that ensued to create, through the grace of G-d, today’s thriving country.  Israel did not become the nation it is today by sheer luck.  Immigrants came to help build the land and the nation and their self sacrifice was enormous. They performed difficult, back breaking manual labor while at the same fighting for their lives, their land and their sovereignty. If we can begin to comprehend for one precious moment, the massive efforts required on the part of the Jewish community in Israel to establish a Jewish state and the skills and personality traits that were developed as a result of living through constant struggles and wars with enormous loss of our people both young and old, I believe, we will come to value and appreciate Israelis, as we strive to learn from them. If we can suspend misconceptions and negative judgments, we will make Aliyah, teshuva and dealing with Israelis more positive and beneficial for everyone and we will with certainty COME INTO THE LIGHT of our soul powers along with making G-ds name great.

According to published articles, as well as my own perceptions and experiences, I will enumerate the many outstanding qualities that make Israelis who they are.

Mahane_Yehuda_Market_P1020256Israelis are real!   This trait alone can jolt the inner nervous system of most unsuspecting Americans and send them back to the airport on the next plane out. I happen to be married to a New York born Jewish husband, who is very much like Israelis. (Yeah G-d, I love it).  Israelis have a genius for improvising and creating. They have brilliant minds. They have a taste for the good life but can live without it. They work hard caring for their communities. They are not afraid to be whom they are and they are not apologetic about it. They are loving and intimate with their friends and family…they establish close, life-long relationships and nourish them. They are affectionate. They have learned the art of living successfully under threats. Israeli’s are bonded by shared experiences which makes them strong. They are courageous. They are warriors. They are direct, pushy if need be, and fight for what they want and do not give up easily. They will strive mightily to figure a way to make what they want happen and they are incredibly resourceful. They are rule breakers. They are playful and love to joke and laugh. They smile easily and are full of kindness. They are warm and friendly and welcoming. They are taught to serve the community from their youth. (65% of high school students are required to do weekly community work for the full school year).

Israelis are not afraid to take risks or even fail. In America and Europe failure has a very bad name and is considered to be a liability against success. Israelis consider it a tool to simply do better.  Israelis are gutsy and not afraid to use their voice nor challenge authority. These are a few of the reasons why the Israeli start up rate is soaring. The IDF shapes the mentality of the young people in Israel to be community minded and nationally aware. Israelis are not spoiled. They work hard and play hard. They are passionate and direct and honest. They are extremely curious and creative. They are friendly and helpful if they want to be and that challenges most Americans. They do not play the game of pretending about anything. They have acquired the ability to push forward against all odds. They love to argue and to negotiate. Most will go out of their way to help you. Israelis do not always follow through on what they say they will do, but there is always a reason behind it.

The most truthful aspect of new immigrants dealing with powerful, non PC Israelis, is that when you are operating in a weakened emotional condition, and are unable to advocate for yourself, you view those who are NOT helping you in the way you need it, as the enemy. I believe the emotional volcano that has lain dormant rises to the surface and erupts in the face of the numerous settling in challenges and the culprit becomes The Israelis and/or Medinat Yisrael. This is a normal and common psychological response but can be deeply problematic if it gets out of hand. It is perfectly understandable that behaviors of others can often cause distress but it does not give us license to condemn them. In fact, when we stand unsure of ourselves, swirling in emotions, and uncertainty, feeling the deep loss of our selfhood and home connections, we tend to judge those closest at hand.

right_handMaking Aliyah, teshuvah and dealing with Israelis tends to remove all the layers of our hiddenness and our essence and character stands bare and vulnerable. They force us to face the truth of who we really are as they confront us with ourselves and break our illusions. In our discomfort, we often strive to find ways to justify our behavior or judgments in order to absolve ourselves of guilt. The key to Aliyah, teshuva and success in dealing with Israelis according to noted teacher, Rebbetzin Tzipora Heller, is to take yourself out of the center of everything. She states that most aveiras are a direct result of pride and arrogance because they cause us to see ourselves as being perfect and see others less than perfect in comparison to us.  If you choose to be intolerant towards Israelis and disparage them, this will be negatively impactful to our entire nation, for we return home to the Holy Land to build not destroy. When we approach Yom Kippur to be forgiven of our sins, we can hardly expect forgiveness if we have not been willing to forgive others. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach OBM says if you can see the good in others, it means you have merited the highest level of teshuva.

In the extraordinary Book, “Garden of Gratitude”, Rabbi Lazer Brody relates the following, “Hashem knows exactly what we need to move us into the realm of character refinement. Hashem knows that in a life of pampered pleasures, a person won’t make any character improvements and won’t fulfill even a small portion of his personal potential and certainly won’t seek Hashem. He will be light years away from teshuva and spiritual awareness. Such a person will be spoiled and weak; he will probably develop an over-inflated sense of entitlement and an intolerable personality who demand much of many people. On the other hand, life’s difficulties especially upon returning to the Holy Land, will not only strengthen a person but stimulate his search for meaning and spiritual growth.” Aliyah, teshuva and learning to deal respectfully with Israelis has the power to lead us in spiritual maturity which leads to true freedom.

To summarize:  Making Aliyah to live in Eretz HaKodesh and teshuva are two of G-ds greatest gifts to His beloved nation. Israelis are the residents of Eretz HaKodesh and have lived, worked, died and sacrificed to make it what it is today. Just as we owe Hashem an enormous debt of gratitude for our incredible land inheritance and for the chance to do teshuva, we owe our Israeli family acceptance, respect and appreciation. Just as G-d extends His love and Divine mercy through His gift of teshuva because He wants us to straighten ourselves out, we too must extend love and compassion to our Israeli family in spite of the differences. Our motivation should be love and fear of G-d. The challenge is awesome, but it is completely possible to shift perspectives and release negative judgments. Be encouraged by the fact that this is what G-d wants for our nation especially in our biblical homeland. During this time of the ten days of teshuva, G-d is asking us to carefully avoid the pitfalls of sin through positive, refined interactions with our family, friends, community and nation.

May we merit a soulful, deeply connective, and restorative Yom Kippur with a deep teshuva that enables us to accept and rise above our challenges with a renewed spirit and dedication to the King of Kings and His beloved nation in His beloved land.   May we merit to see the connection between Aliyah, teshuva and Israelis and restore each relationship to wholeness and perfect balance.

With Blessings of love and light.  Chag Sameach  Gmar Chatima Tova,   Ariella Bracha

*Note: Please refer to blog post of November of 2012, titled “Becoming Israeli” as it has additional insights which may be helpful.

 

Aliyah & Rosh HaShana: Their Commonalities and Connectors

rosh-hashanah-hd-wallpapers-wallpaper-f916b2ed383e62ec91b915de8ba77e0b-big-13089Aliyah & Rosh HaShana: Their Commonalities and Connectors

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Every change in perspective creates a new beginning just as every new beginning creates a change of perspective. I love new beginnings and the feeling of a new start. I also appreciate and value a change in perspective, as new and relevant information is presented to me by learned Rabbis and scholars. It awakens a sense of discovery and brings a feeling of vitality in its wake. I believe the excitement and pleasure it engenders stems from a deep place of longing for wholeness and spiritual depth. At the same time, I believe every fear that arises as a result of change, also has at its source a longing for wholeness and spiritual depth.

Both aliyah and Rosh HaShana share the commonalities of new perspectives and are truly new beginnings at their finest. The Ba’al Shem Tov, in preparation for Rosh HaShana said, “Pray like a pauper…… suspend all your sophistication, literacy, and intelligence. Stand vulnerable, with no layers, with your essence exposed before G-d‘s essence. Stand innocent like a child. Then you will reach and see G-d’s face….G-ds essence.”

imagesThis is the exact description of the stance we should take and the awareness we should acquire upon returning home to Eretz Yisrael.  Most of us making aliyah arrive after a long separation in the land of our exiles. Upon coming home, many Jews feel as if they have no sophistication, no intelligence and feel lost and vulnerable with our ignorance and helplessness exposed. Some feel as if they have lost their personal identity and it feels crushing. We lose ourselves in the emotions without a clear understanding of the journey we have embarked upon. And yet, if we can stand innocent like a child with our true essence exposed, ready to receive all the goodness and blessings coming home to the Holiest place has to offer, we will see G-ds essence and He will guide us as His beloved children.

Just as we need to learn and understand the process of preparation for Rosh HaShana, we also need to understand its deep connection to the aliyah process of settling into the land. Similar to the month of Elul directing us inward for the purpose of Teshuva (returning to our true selves) and change, aliyah directs us to look inward to uncover our true selves that have often times been lost in the lands of our dispersion. Rosh HaShana and aliyah impart the need for change and change ultimately breaks things wide open.

Regarding the process called teshuva (returning to our true soulful selves), Rabbi Simon Jacobson says, “Teshuva infuses all our activities with vitality and a deeper sense of our own essence. Teshuva polishes and refines all our activities and makes them sparkle with the fire of the recesses of our soul reaching upward, returning to its source.” It is both a cleansing and healing process and has the ability to restore us to a sense of inner wholeness and G-dly harmony with life.

The same is true of aliyah, as it moves us into the aspect of total integration with the Jewish nation on all levels. It gives us the opportunity to infuse all our activities in the acclimation process with vitality and a deeper sense of our essence. A Jew living in the land can make his mitzvot sparkle with the fire of deep connection in the Holy Land of the Jewish nation. The prophet Ezekiel states,” I will gather you out of all the countries. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean. From all your uncleanness and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” (EZ.36:24-25) This cleansing creates an amazing feeling of inner wholeness and G-dly harmony which is likened to teshuva.

In this week’s Torah portion of Nitzavim, relating to the ingathering of the exiles (Dev. 30:3-5), Rabbi Moshe D. Lichtman in his commentary teaches that Rashi explains that when the Jewish people go into exile, G-d accompanies them and suffers with them and when they return to their land, G-d returns with them. The Rav explains that just as aliyah is good for the Jew on a personal and national level, it is also good for G-d. Not only does a Jew returning to his homeland bring back G-d, he brings back the Shechinah as well (Eretz Yisrael in the Parashah by Moshe D. Lichtman).The same Divine truth relates to teshuva and Rosh HaShana.

Elul and Rosh HaShanah are a compelling time frame of divine energy which allows accessibility to the inner realm of the soul. They allow for a powerful individuation process which initiates one into a truer and deeper state of being. And yes, aliyah is the same process.

Teshuva and aliyah are both fraught with advances and setbacks, successes and failures. Just as we would not reject doing teshuva during Rosh HaShana, we should not reject the possibility of making aliyah, nor the challenges that go along with it.

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Our ultimate aim as Jews is to fulfill the Divine mission we were charged with. As we traverse the path of returning to our true selves and returning to our homeland, we arrive at a more mature and conscious awareness of our true reality as an integral part of the Jewish nation. Ultimately we will discover that we have the ability to evolve and create a deep conscious connection to God, ourselves and our nation.

In truth, our life choices must reflect the vision of our higher selves which we long for. Each of us must choose to become the master of his soul journey, as we strive to steer our souls into an expansive, uplifting and soulful life, serving G-d and our nation with all of our gifts and talents.

May we embrace all our new beginnings and new perspectives revealed through the deep teachings and experiences embedded in both Rosh HaShana and aliyah and may we understand, THESE ARE NEW BEGINNINGS AT THEIR FINEST!

May all new immigrants truly acquire the understanding of the great Blessings they have brought into the world through making aliyah. May you allow nothing to stand in the way of your successful aliyah knowing you are in the Land G-d personally has His eyes on every single day. May you personally feel the privilege of serving THE KING OF KINGS IN HIS PALACE….ERETZ YISRAEL.

To all of Klal Yisrael: May this year be endowed with the deepest clarity of G-dly purpose, joyous experiences and meaningful relationships along with health and well being. When the shofar sounds, may it usher in a good, sweet year granting you fulfillment of all your personal and spiritual needs.

La Shana Tova! And Kesiva V’Chatima Tova!

With Love and Blessings, Ariella Bracha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aliyah and Dealing with Separation from Family

leavingAliyah and Dealing with Separation from Family

Practical tools to keep the relationships flourishing

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Aliyah is one of the most exciting and courageous choices a Jew can make today. Choosing to live in the Holy Land comes with countless blessings and great spiritual benefits. However, along with the many positive benefits comes the ever present reality of dealing with separation from family. Due to the significance of family to most people, especially Jews, this separation can create painful feelings of loneliness and sadness, in spite of the great joy upon returning to live in the Jewish homeland. This blog post will give some practical tools to keep the relationship flourishing.  A future post will deal with the emotional aspect.

I personally believe each Jew who is considering making Aliyah must spend time weighing all the factors involved with moving far away from family, and honestly evaluate their emotional ability to deal with it. If we do not take the time think it though and evaluate, we could end up in an untenable situation.

No one ever said long-distance relationships are easy but they don’t have to devastate you. In fact simple adjustments to being far away can preserve the relationship in a positive way.  I personally believe the end result of separation does one of three things to the relationship: enhances it, diminishes it or maintains it on an even keel. The end result will depend on the parties involved and the choices they make. The truth is, it has never been easier to maintain long distance relationships due to our advanced technological society, thank G-d.

Many say that absence makes the heart grow fonder but I believe keeping connections strong makes the heart grow fonder.

The following are some suggestions gleaned from online sources as well as my own input.

  1. Stay in Contact.
  • Communication is the number one area of importance. Since you will not be seeing each other in person, it is extremely vital to establish and maintain good communication. Communication shows we care enough to put time and effort into the relationship, even if it is just a brief email. Sending a handwritten note or card from time to time is a special treat. This makes us feel loved. Keep your family updated on how life is progressing in the new environment. Stay honest with each other. Talk about your feelings, fears and insecurities. Don’t try to hide your true feelings yet at the same time don’t be overly negative. Negativity can add additional stress to an already stressful situation or undue worry which is an added burden. Communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Ask family members for their preferred method of communication and let them know yours i.e., cell phone, home phone, texting, emailing, skypeing, Facebook, tweets or snail mail, etc.
  • Work around each other’s schedules to honor the needs of each person. Don’t make your emotional needs override their schedules or commitments as it could create resentment. Don’t make the calls too long or burdensome. Respect time constraints.
  • Don’t allow a lengthy time period to go by without communication, as it can create a feeling of insecurity in either party. Without continuous communication those far away from family can easily feel they no longer matter. If you know you will be unavailable for an extended period of time, let your family know in advance.
  1. Relationship Expectations.
  • Have reasonable expectations. Be mindful there will always be bumps in the road. When you learn to navigate them successfully and respectfully, it will contribute to a better relationship. Remember, your family is human and they are not mind readers. Do not dump all your expectations on your family because you are feeling vulnerable.
  1. Share yourself.
  • Send each other photos or short videos of fun or interesting things you are doing, so they can get a taste of your life experiences. If you are involved in social media, “like” each other’s photos and posts. Place photos of family members throughout the house, so there is a visible connection.
  1. Pursue common interests.
  • Do the same thing at the same time. Watch a meaningful movie that interests you and the family and discuss it together over SKYPE. Read the same book and talk about it. You can even take turns reading it aloud. Take an online course together. Share online articles that relate to your interests or an inspirational quote that touches your heart. This will make the distance seem smaller, create bonding and give you plenty to talk about.
  1. Create fun experiences or projects.
  • Go online shopping together and buy each other a gift or mail each other a surprise gift. This lets the other person know you care. GROUP-ON has an assortment of great online bargains in the city where your family is located. Let your children or grandchildren pick out something special. There is great power in gift giving and it doesn’t have to be costly. Come up with your own ideas and be sure to get the kids involved. Create an art project and mail it long distance for the family to finish. Write a story or poem for your grandchildren or kids. Send an email with a story you start and have your family add to it, email it back to you and you finish it. Send a “Remember When” of fun memories you shared together over the years. Let your family know what they can do to meet your relationship needs. If time zones permit, you can read a bedtime story to your grandchildren or greet them first thing in the morning and wish them a good morning. You can call to wish them a good Shabbat and give them Blessings. The truth is there is no limit to the endless ways relationships can be maintained and enhanced. It just takes desire and commitment without allowing excuses to get in the way.
  1. Support each other even over the distance.
  • Be there for your family if they are in trouble or hurting or for whatever reason. Let them know you care and you are willing to be there for them no matter what the hour. Support keeps interdependence alive which is vital to a good relationship.

As I have previously written, the separation from my children and grandchildren was especially painful because we are very close. I miss interacting with them and seeing them in person and watching their lives unfold and especially watching them blossom and grow. I miss playing with them and touching them and participating in their life events. The aspect of growing old without them is a bit scary too. However, having expressed these feelings, I will tell you, our relationship is solid, fulfilling and meaningful, in spite of the long distance challenge. I will also tell you that my husband and I are happier than we have ever been in our life, in spite of the empty space in our hearts for our precious family. We know, beyond a shadow of doubt, we are fulfilling our mission and purpose in life and fulfilling the will of G-d. These undeniable truths enable us to rise above the feelings of pain and loneliness and ultimately transcend them to live a joyous life.

In summary: Aliyah is an enormous decision which can be fraught with a mine field of emotional challenges relating to family relationships. It is vital to carefully think through your choice while at the same time holding onto the understanding there are countless ways to handle the long distance relationship effectively in this day of modern technology.

The Torah teaches us the more we serve our families through love and connection, the happier and more secure we will feel, and thus the dearer we are to G-d.

May the wisdom and guidance of Torah enable us to work through the gamut of challenges that come to us through Aliyah. May we strive to manage our emotions in a healthy balanced way to avoid excessive sadness and drama.

With Blessings for a sweet, healthy, prosperous and joyous New Year, Shanah Tova, Ariella Bracha