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!

 

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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

Turning Inspiration Into Action

garden-wallpaper-hd-12-decoration-inspirationTurning Inspiration Into Action

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

I always feel sad as the sun sets on the last day of Chanukah and I can no longer kindle the lights of my Chanukah candles. Waiting an entire year to perform the mitzvah again seems far away and yet in truth, I know a year passes very quickly. The question always arises in my mind after the departure of a holiday filled with powerful spiritual messages, rituals and fulfilling experiences: “How can I personally turn the inspiration of the holiday into action that will keep me living inspired?” I am certain many people ask the same question.

It has been suggested by numerous Rabbi’s that if you truly want to keep the inspiration alive, you must create a plan of action. Rabbi Simon Jacobson teaches that “action changes human beings, moves mountains and ultimately changes the world.” He further explains that, “Performing an action melts the tension between matter and spirit fusing them into one. Matter is temporary but tangible while spirit is eternal but intangible and therefore, the solution is to fuse the two.” For example, when you make a blessing over food, it uplifts the mundane act of eating to the realm of holy thus creating a spiritual entity from the fusion of the two. The act of eating is thereby refined and transformed. This spiritual act manifests holiness and brings blessings in the world.

As I look at the English letters of the word CHANUKAH, they actually guide us into ACTION.

  • The C in Chanukah stands for CHOICE
  • The H in Chanukah stands for HOPE
  • The A in Chanukah stands for ACTION.
  • The N in Chanukah stands for NULLIFY or NATION.
  • The U in Chanukah stands for UNITY.
  • The K in Chanukah stands for KINDNESS or KEEP
  • The A in Chanukah stands for AWARENESS.
  • The H in Chanukah stands for HEROS, HEROINES AND HONOR.

To summarize the message of the letters (which are not in the same order as the word Chanukah):  TURN INSPIRATION INTO ACTION

We must make a choice to nullify our will for G-d’s will in the hope that through our actions which are being done out of kindness for our nation’s purpose and mission in the world, we will develop the awareness that to become a true hero or heroine, we must choose the honor of G-d and our nation above our own self interest and in so doing, bring unity to our people in our land which will keep alive the hope and yearning for Moshiach and the Torah-true living that we long for.

Then, we can become the true candle of G-d and shine our light into the world with genuine Jewish warmth and vitality. We will become warriors for G-d and His Nation just like the Maccabees who represent the ultimate manifestation of the above summary.

I leave you with a reminder that Prayers on behalf of our nation at this time when we are facing great challenges is one of the best actions you can take. They are powerful and vital to the safety and well-being of our Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. The Maccabees prayed and cried out to HaShem constantly. Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky reminds us that every single prayer has the ability to change the world we live in. He also reminds us that Yishmael which literally means, “G-d will hear his voice” are not embarrassed to pray and they do it no matter where they are. We are fighting someone who has the exact same power as us: Prayer. Thus, we must make it a priority.

Below is a link to a beautiful Prayer to be recited by inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael. When I came across it in the book, “To Dwell in the Palace” edited by Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein, and I read the prayer, it took my breath away. I have also included the Prayer for the State of Israel, as well as, the prayer for the safety of the IDF. Please say them every day and may it bring blessings to our nation.

http://bataliyah.blogspot.co.il/2012/09/prayer-for-residents-of-eretz-yisrael.html

English Prayer for the State of Israel

Our Father in Heaven, Rock and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel, the first manifestation of the approach of our redemption. Shield it with Your lovingkindness, envelop it in Your peace, and bestow Your light and truth upon its leaders, ministers, and advisors, and grace them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our holy land, grant them deliverance, and adorn them in a mantle of victory. Ordain peace in the land and grant its inhabitants eternal happiness. Lead them, swiftly and upright, to Your city Zion and to Jerusalem, the abode of Your Name, as is written in the Torah of Your servant Moses: “Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there the Lord your God will gather you, from there He will fetch you. And the Lord your God will bring you to the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your fathers.” Draw our hearts together to revere and venerate Your name and to observe all the precepts of Your Torah, and send us quickly the Messiah son of David, agent of Your vindication, to redeem those who await Your deliverance.

Manifest yourself in the splendor of Your boldness before the eyes of all inhabitants of Your world, and may everyone endowed with a soul affirm that the Lord, God of Israel, is king and his dominion is absolute. Amen forevermore.

Prayer for Members of the Israel Defense Force

He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Force, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.

May Hashem cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighting men from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.

May He lead our enemies under their sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is Hashem, your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you. Now let us respond: Amen.

May we merit to hold sacred the inspiration we gain from all our holidays and act upon their depth of meaning, living inspired, passionate lives, turning inspiration into action on behalf of our beloved and holy Nation.

AM YISRAEL CHAI!

With Blessings of love and light, safety and well being for us, Am Yisrael and the world. ARIELLA BRACHA

 

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.

sacred-geometry

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Glorious State of Israel: State of Mind: State of Being

The Glorious State of Israel: State of Mind: State of Being

ChaimWeizmann“A state is not handed to a nation on a silver platter.”
Dr. Chaim Weizmann, first president of the State of Israel.

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

From the darkness appeared a young girl and a young boy, and slowly they stepped to face their nation.

Their fatigue had no limit; they had known no rest, and drenched in the dew of a Hebrew youth,

Silently they approached, and stood quite still,

And nobody could tell, if they were living or had been shot to death.


Then the nation spoke, choked by tears and by wonder and asked;

Who are you? And the two quietly answered her:

We are the silver platter on which you were given the State of the Jews!


So they spoke, veiled in shadow, and at her feet they fell,

And the rest will be told in the Saga of Israel.

Excerpt from “The Silver Platter” by Israeli Poet, Natan Alterman

 

Israelisborn

Uzi Narkiss wrote in the book, “Lionhearts, Heroes of Israel,” that when Natan Alterman published this poem on Dec. 19, 1947, he had no idea how costly the “Silver Platter” would be. In fact, on November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted on the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab independent state. Immediately afterwards Jamal Al-Husseini declared, in the name of the supreme Arab committee, that “what was written in ink will be erased by blood in Palestine.”

The first drops of blood were spilled the following day, when Arabs ambushed a Jewish bus, killing and wounding the passengers. In the long, bitter war that claimed so many victims, fought by so few people with such limited resources, the small Jewish community in Israel was offered a choice: a historic opportunity, coupled with the terrible danger to its very survival: to become an independent nation, or to be annihilated. They chose the former. The outcome of the war proved beyond a shadow of a doubt the courage of the Jewish fighting men and women through their daring, self-sacrifice and enormous integrity. They turned out to be the country’s most valuable weapon.

Again and again, on all fronts, Alterman’s young boys and girls proved by risking their lives, by rushing into battle courageously against an enemy with superior power and equipment, that they could win the war and bring about the renewal of Jewish sovereignty after 2000 years and especially after the Holocaust of Europe’s Jews.

The War of Independence ended in the spring of 1949. However, the Arab agenda to spill the blood of the Jew has never changed. And even today, our Jewish youth, along with every Jew that resides in the land, has become the silver platter upon which we are given the state of the Jews–the Land of Israel. Our lives are still the offering served on the silver platter, as our enemies perpetrate their evil crimes against our beloved nation.

However, living amongst our treasured people, we feel the power, might and resilience of our most valuable weapon and it makes us strong. Only here in the Land of Israel, do we comprehend the truth, that we are fulfilling a mission chosen for us by our destiny—by our Divine Calling. We are so confident in the direction our lives are taking, that we are willing to sacrifice, in order to strengthen and forge a stronger link in the chain of Jewish nationhood and history. By returning home, we have reclaimed our Divine inner spark, dormant for so long, as we choose to lead our new lives out of faith in G-d and His ideal for His nation. We have immersed ourselves in the current of Jewish history and are being transformed in the process.

julyaliyahAnd thus we become the POLISHED SILVER PLATTER, strengthened by 67 years of hard work and restoration. We have become the new team of Jewish immigrants who work alongside their native-born brethren to restore the glorious State of Israel and the Jewish nation to its true glory through our state of mind and our state of being and our state of readiness to protect and serve. What could be more real, rewarding, more sacred or more Jewish? Nothing that I can think of!

With Blessings of love and light, Ariella Bracha

Aliyah 2003-2015 Celebrating 12 Years Of Extraordinary Blessings

awesome-israel-wallpaper_020540103_165Aliyah 2003-2015 Celebrating 12 Years Of Extraordinary Blessings

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

It is my intention to write 12 different essays over the next few weeks on 12 different topics related to making Aliyah and living in Israel. This will be my way of celebrating 12 wondrous years of living in G-ds beloved garden—Eretz HaKodesh.

Sinking my roots and planting my soul into the soil of the Holy Land

“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” Simone Weil

July 14, 2003 will forever be etched in the consciousness of my mind as the day I entered a new realm of existence, both physical and spiritual. It was on this date that I began the process of sinking my roots into the holy soil of the location that is known as the spiritual epicenter of the universe: The place on earth where G-ds presence is most revealed and where the history of the Jewish people began and will continue to unfold. This was the day my beloved husband, Avraham, and I returned home to Eretz HaKodesh to claim our DIVINE INHERITANCE in the land G-d bequeathed to His beloved, Jewish children.

We chose to make Aliyah because we felt it was necessary for our spiritual growth. We had uncovered an inner need and longing to live every aspect of our life connected to the Jewish people and we knew Israel was the only place where it could happen. We understood, on some level, that if we wanted to grow in a deep and meaningful Jewish way, we would need to be “re-potted” in our native soil. Then our divine essence could truly become rooted to its source of nourishment. We learned that it is quite rare for a sensitive plant, unique to a certain location, to actually take root in foreign soil and blossom to the fullest degree possible. And so, we left behind family, status, possessions, fancy cars and lots of stuff in order to emerge in full strength to allow our roots to take hold in Israel.

Aerial-View-of-Jerusalem-Wallpaper-540x360We were extremely blessed to have been divinely guided to our beautiful apartment in Israel, prior to making Aliyah. We made a special trip in January 2003, in order to locate the place that would become our home. In spite of the fact that we went from a 3500 square-foot house with a big front porch and a lovely garden to a 3 bedroom, 1 ½ bath, 100 sq. meter apartment (1000 square feet), we were overjoyed with the layout and abundance of windows that gave us lots of light and airflow. Most importantly however, we were completely in awe of living in the Old City of Jerusalem, due to its location so near to where the Holy Temple once stood. Upon arriving at our new home, we entered our apartment with trepidation, recognizing where we would be living and it felt strangely surreal. We began to comprehend the fact that Aliyah carries the power to take you beyond the rewards of mere intellectual comprehension.

The first night, I went to sleep with tears on my pillow, both from missing my family, as well as the privilege to have made it home to Israel where we would live out our days in the land G-d hand-picked for his beloved nation. Here we can prosper and thrive and bring glory to His name. What could be more exciting? What entity or attractions outside the land of Israel could ever compare to fulfilling the commandment of Yishuv Ha’Aretz?

mystical-flower-shine_028280Friends, I have come to realize that the act of making Aliyah is the beginning of an extraordinary process that enables you to shed the superficial, outdated, and ill-fitting garments of the galut lifestyle, in order to adorn yourself in the very real and regal garments of royalty that we wear when residing in the Holy Land. The process begins with your arrival home to Israel and continues throughout the settling in phase. In fact, it continues over the years, as you wean yourself from the galut mentality, in order to fully embrace every hidden aspect of your true, vibrant and connective self that manifests when you choose to reside in the land of your soul root and divine birthright.

In truth, I fully believe that making aliyah is an act of daring and people generally get excited by doing something daring because over time, people’s lives can become dulled by routine. Engaging in the process of aliyah ultimately helps Jews become whole and in becoming whole, we heal the nation, as well as ourselves. And without exception, in this process of coming into our true strengths, we are able to confer our giftedness and growth on each other, for we are returning to a world of everything Jewish and circulating blessings to the nation. There is a very real pleasure in sharing life with our fellow Jews and I feel comfort in their nearness. It feels as if our togetherness is creating an exquisite tapestry of intimacy.

God-s-Mystical-Landscapes-god-the-creator-16842085-500-375Life in Israel carries you across time and space and into the realm of close connection to G-d and Jewish history: both ancient and modern. Here you are completely connected to the Jewish nation. It is exciting and energizing and vastly rewarding. Ultimately, I recognize that I am privileged to become one of the guardians of the Jewish experience of building up the land and it feels magnificent. What about you?

Dear friends, I pray that you too can explore your connection to the Holy Land, your spiritual growth potential and what you truly want for your life. I pray that my essays touch you and teach you about the true benefits of living authentically as a Jew in the Holy Land. With Blessings of love, light, honesty and integrity, Ariella Bracha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing to Safety: Returning Home to Israel

img_0394Crossing to Safety: Returning Home to Israel

by Ariella Bracha Waldinger

I had been away for more than a month and was returning home. As the airplane approached the runway for touch-down, I began to feel a fluttering in my heart that cannot be explained in words. I knew that soon I would walk through the doorway of the airport terminal and my fingers would touch the sacred Mezuzza, announcing that I was once again in G-ds homeland and, most importantly, in the ancient/modern, national homeland of the Jewish people.

My soul stirred, as excitement radiated throughout my entire being, for my soul knew that upon arrival, she would be “CROSSING TO SAFETY”—returning home to G-ds beloved Holy Land called ISRAEL.  I felt a surge of spiritual energy like a powerful electric current igniting my soul, as I began to perceive the Divine embrace of spiritual forces in the most revealed place of G-ds presence on Earth—Eretz Israel: the perfect setting for confirmation of the Divine destiny of the Jewish nation.

6307691939_012c21bb93_bBe clear, I love going back to Denver, Colorado in the summer time to visit our children and grandchildren. I savor the opportunity to experience summer with them in their homes and do fun things in order to create wonderful memories. It is truly special beyond words.  Besides, summer time is a wonderful gift of stress-free time to relax and enjoy what life has to offer in an unstructured and playful way. The trip with all its varied experiences fills the void in my heart of not living near them. This summer’s trip was exceptionally enjoyable and we had many fun and memorable experiences that will make me smile and touch the embers of my heart fire in the months to come.

Additionally, it was great to get away from the goings on in Israel’s neighbors and the Middle East. It was great not to constantly be reminded about what was happening in Syria, or the rockets, or anything pertaining to Middle East events. However, I never stopped thinking about Israel nor lost my connection to it. I just set it aside for a brief period. But I can definitely comprehend how a Jew living outside the land can completely divorce himself from thinking about the Land of Israel and its goings on and this is precisely the problem with life in America. I truly perceive how the Jewish mind is dulled by the static and dissonance of living in a country that is foreign to their soul and their destiny. I truly feel the dissonance because when I am apart from Eretz Yisrael and am outside the Land, I frequently lose the sureness of my soul footing.  In fact, it actually feels as if there is a coating of constriction around my soul that prevents true G-dly intimacy.

What often comes to my mind as I vacation in Denver, are the spiritual dangers that threaten the very essence of the Jewish nation residing outside the Land. This is far worse than any physical danger I might experience while residing in Israel. Various rationalizations are given for staying in America or other countries but in my mind, they fall short of veracity, as we note throughout the daily prayer and holiday services that speak of returning to the land of our divine inheritance.

I perceive that the impact of what is going on in America with its decline in morality will have a greater or lesser impact on one’s spirituality in direct proportion to the precautions that are taken to protect oneself and one’s children from exposure to these influences. The question then becomes how much emphasis do we place on spiritual safety? The answer will surely indicate just where one stands on living the core values of what it means to be a Jew. I believe the Torah position is quite clear on the significance of living in our Divine inheritance as we recently noted in Parasha Shelach.

It is interesting to note the responses I received as I spoke to other Jews after Shabbat services regarding the topic of making Israel their home. Here are a few:

  • A woman in her 60s said that she had been to Israel two times and felt no need to return…. She had basically fulfilled her duty. How sad!
  • Another woman in her 60’s stated that she had traveled around the world but had never received the spiritual call to go to Israel. Poor soul!
  •  Another woman in her 60’s stated that she is perfectly content and happy with her life and would have no need or desire to change it. So much for spiritual growth!

Statistics show there is a large percentage of religious Jews who have never visited Israel in spite of travelling to other countries. This sad state of affairs tells the true story of the worth of the holy land in the eyes of many Jews.

It is my innocent understanding that a Jew can never be content with his life and that we must continue to strive and grow spiritually throughout all the days of our lives. This is our only protection against the withering of our souls as they die from spiritual starvation which is what I see happening to many Jews living outside the land. But the truly unbelievable part is that they do not even realize it. They have become sanitized to the true worth and power of being a Jew—one of G-ds chosen in His chosen land.

What I find most shocking when I visit and attend certain shuls outside of Israel is their words of Torah rarely touch upon the real life of a Jew and his land. Rather their conversations seem to be an exercise of academic comprehension of little or no practical or spiritual value. They may be intellectually interesting but in the realm of inspiration and soul food, they fall short.

060_Dafna Tal_NEGEV_530_normA Jew is commanded to combine the spiritual Torah with the practical Torah, which can only be done to the fullest extent in Eretz Yisrael. Rav Kook, OBM, explains “in Eretz Yisrael, the place of prophecy, the influx of the holiness of the Land informs the soul and lends itself to inspiration, deeper intuition and heightened spiritual experiences.” The Land with all its holiness supports the soul in a very real and meaningful way. ”The air of the land makes one wise”. What a great feeling to not only know the truth but to live with it. I wish the same for you my friends.

Now, I am getting over my jet lag and slowly settling into my routine and thanking G-d with all my heart for the precious family He gave me and the special times we shared together.  Having RETURNED HOME TO ISRAEL, I have once again CROSSED TO SAFETY where the spiritual depth of life in the land is already resonating within my soul to link it to its true source and destiny.

With Blessings of Love and Light, Ariella Bracha

 

 

 

Aliyah Is Not a Geographical Change – It’s a Personal Transformation

Nbn-welcome

Aliyah Is Not a Geographical Change – It’s a Personal Transformation

By Leah Kahalani

I firmly believe that I can choose to live anywhere on the planet and the choice is solely mine to make, except when moving to Israel. The land of Israel has a share in the process of my move and plays a part in determining if I am worthy to remain in the land.

Aliyah dreaming

Aliyah was my dream since I was a young girl because of my yeshiva education.  I call myself FFE (“Frum From Education”).  I wanted to really embrace my legacy. New York is my birth place. Israel is my home.

At 18 years of age, I contacted the Aliyah center (many years before Nefesh B’Nefesh existed).  Then life (HaShem) had other plans for me. Aliyah was still going to happen in the near future. Then it did not. I do not know why. Seven years later, for one reason or another I had not yet visited the land.

Aliyah was on the back burner. The dream was a small flicker. The next phase of my life was 10 years of reflection, learning, expanding and internalizing the many lessons that life brought my way.

February 2000, my first visit to Israel

3506048486On the tarmac — pre-new Ben Gurion airport — looking up into the Israeli sky for the first time in my life I was home; an indescribable experience. My 17-day trip was exciting, thrilling, awesome and every other powerful adjective available.  I traveled by bus. I was all over the country–the Kotel, Ma’arat Hamachpela, Tveria, Tsfat, Meron, Amuka, etc.

After a week into my trip, I was riding a Jerusalem bus and as I observed the people on the bus it suddenly struck me that the scene I was witnessing looked so identical to what I saw everyday as a NYC subway commuter, except most of the people on the bus were Jews.

My Aliyah dream was filled with fantasy and expectations that every Jew in the land of Israel would be Torah observant.  Reality informed me otherwise.  My “Ah ha!” moment — if I had made Aliyah decades earlier when I was 18, holding tight to my fantasy then my disillusionment may have crushed me.  At 18 I would not have been emotionally and spiritually prepared to reconcile the dichotomy that I witnessed.

In that moment I understood that HaShem knew it was best to keep me waiting a bit longer before I my first visit.   I had to grow up and learn to face life on life’s terms.  Returning to NY, my Aliyah dream was alive and well.  HaShem was not finished with me.

One of my tefillot during my trip was to find my husband.  When I returned to New York my life underwent major upheavals in less than six months.   Once the dust settled, my new life placed me where I needed to be to meet my husband in August 2000.

During our dates Aliyah was discussed at length. The topic was not “wouldn’t it be nice if…?”  For me it was a high priority equal to any life-related matter one factors in when choosing a spouse.

From the chupah, I estimated Aliyah was a minimum of 8 years away.  To my pleasant surprise we reached that bridge a few years sooner than planned.

HaShem would know I meant business

Seven years before Aliyah I attended Ulpan. Three years earlier I learned how to type Hebrew.  A year before Aliyah I bought the Rosetta Stone program to continue practicing Hebrew.  I suggested to my husband that we not buy a home because we want HaShem to see our greater investment is in the land of Israel.   Every Shabbat when the Torah was returned to the Aron I prayed that my eyes be open to HaShem’s guidance for the right time to make Aliyah.

February 2008

If you ask me how I knew it was time to make Aliyah the only way I can describe it was that all the tethers to my current life were coming undone.  For me making Aliyah was not an event.  It was an awakening that comes from doing the next right thing every day until an opening appears.

The Aliyah process begins

What are our income options? I gave NBN my resume.  My 20-year career was as a NYC real estate title closer and paralegal.  Within a week, a gentleman contacted me who saw my resume listed with NBN. He had a title abstract company in Westchester County, was making Aliyah at the same time as we and wanted to hire people in Israel with title experience.  I’m a perfect candidate.  We would resume our dialogue after we both settled into our homes.  Exciting, right?

We were talking to another family who wanted to make Aliyah.  One huge obstacle — they could not sell their property because the market price would not even pay off their mortgage!   We made Aliyah on August 19, 2008. The real estate market dried up September 1st 2008. That title job in Westchester was gone!

So what’s a girl to do? I declared myself retired from my career.  I knew my valuable skills were transferable. With a very modest limited savings and my husband’s job in Ariel it was not much money.  We managed.

Year one: I spent many hours researching potential work opportunities for English speakers.  One possibility I liked the most was grant writing.

Year two: An opportunity came to me to volunteer with the local keren to build up their financial resources through grant writing.  For over a year I learned on the job all the ins and outs of grant writing from research through drafting grant proposals. This position gave me a new definition of location, location, location.  Foundations were not interested in putting money into areas of Israel they believed the government will hand over to the Palestinians so money was just not flowing in our direction.

Year three: I learned about modest swimwear.   After buying one I offered the owner to be her first agent selling in the Shomron.  She agreed.  For the next two years I sold modest swimwear, which helped my Hebrew speaking skills.  At the same time I heard about a transcription company here.  That’s closer to my former career.   I signed up.  Remember the story of the janitor who goes up the ranks to be head of the company?  Well, I went from transcriber to part owner of the company in two years.

Year six:  I researched work opportunities for my husband and now he sells sandwiches all over town.

We are about to celebrate our seventh year Aliyah anniversary this summer.  It has been quite a journey.  The lessons I have learned about earning a living in Israel are the following:

  1. If HaShem can provide for me in NY, of course, He can provide for me here.
  2. My shefa follows me wherever I go. I just have to get out of the way.
  3. Be flexible and open to new experiences. Who am I to say my income can only come through one industry?
  4. Have no expectations. They create limitations on what’s possible.  When a door closes I might find something even better by the open window.
  5. Trust the process. It’s always more challenging to trust during the upheavals.

Rejecting the Land of Israel by HaRav Kook

Rav Kook Torah

Rejecting the Land of Israel

“And [the spies] began to speak badly about the land that they had explored.” (Num. 13:32)

A dispirited discussion took place at Beit HaRav, Rav Kook’s house in Jerusalem, not long after the end of World War II. The Chief Rabbi had passed away ten years earlier; now it was his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook, who sat at the head of the table.

One participant at the Sabbath table had brought up a disturbing topic: the phenomenon of visitors touring Eretz Yisrael and then criticizing the country after returning to their homes. These visitors complain about everything: the heat, the poverty, the backwardness, the political situation — and discourage other Jews from moving here, he lamented.

Rav Tzvi Yehudah responded by telling over the following parable, one he had heard in the name of Rabbi Samuel Mohilever, the rabbi of Bialystok.

The Failed Match

There was once a wealthy man who sought the hand of a certain young lady. She was the most beautiful girl in town, and was blessed with many talents and a truly refined character. Her family was not well-off, so they were eager about a possible match with the prosperous fellow.

The young woman, however, was not interested in the match. Rich or not, the prospective suitor was known to be coarse and ill-mannered. She refused to meet with him.

The father asked her to at least meet with the young man in their home, so as not to embarrass him. After all, one meeting doesn’t obligate you to marry him! To please her father, the young woman agreed.

The following Sabbath afternoon, the fellow arrived at the house as arranged, and was warmly received by the father. Shortly afterwards, his daughter made her entrance. But her hair was uncombed, and she wore a faded, crumpled dress and shabby house slippers. Appalled at her disheveled appearance, it did not take long before the young man excused himself and made a hurried exit.

What everyone says about this girl — it’s not true, exclaimed the astonished young man to his friends. She’s hideous!

Rav Tzvi Yehudah stopped briefly, surveying the guests seated around the table.Superficially, it would appear that the brash young fellow had rejected the young woman. But in fact, it was she who had rejected him.

The same is true regarding the Land of Israel, the rabbi explained. Eretz Yisrael is a special land, only ready to accept those who are receptive to its unique spiritual qualities. The Land does not reveal its inner beauty to all who visit. Not everyone is worthy to perceive its special holiness.

It may appear as if the dissatisfied visitors are the ones who reject the Land of Israel, he concluded. But in fact, it is the Land that rejects them!

A thoughtful silence pervaded the room. Those present were stunned by the parable and the rabbi’s impassioned delivery. Then one of the guests observed, Reb Tzvi Yehudah, your words are suitable for a son of your eminent father, may his memory be a blessing!

Seeing the Goodness of Jerusalem

Rav Tzvi Yehudah’s response was indeed appropriate for Rav Kook’s son. When visitors from outside the country would approach the Chief Rabbi for a blessing, Rav Kook would quote from the Book of Psalms, “May God bless you from Zion” (128:5).

Then he would ask: What exactly is this blessing from Zion? In fact, the content of the blessing is described in the continuation of the verse: “May you see the goodness of Jerusalem.

The rabbi would explain: The verse does not say that one should merit seeing Jerusalem; but that one should merit seeing ‘the goodness of Jerusalem.’ Many people visit Jerusalem. But how many of them merit seeing the inner goodness hidden in the holy city?

And that, he concluded, is God’s special blessing from Zion.

(Stories from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Malachim Kivnei Adam by Simcha Raz, pp. 227-278, 230)