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 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

Living in Israel: What Is It Really Like?

free_israel_photos_places_modiin_1920Living in Israel: What Is It Really Like?
Part One

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

The question I am most frequently asked when I visit America is, “What is it like living in Israel?”  The question itself is deep and probing and touches upon many components. At best, I will strive to answer it through insights, stories, experiences and information.

For some basic information about living in our homeland, I want to direct you to an informative website from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor: www.investinisrael.gov.il. Go under the heading Information for Investors and click on Living in Israel. It touches upon many aspects of living in Israel and is quite interesting and comprehensive.

What is it like to live in Israel?

I asked my 70 year old friend Dorit, “What’s it is like for you to live in Israel?” She said the following,

”For me it is a dream come true. I was about five years old when I heard the “Big People” talking (1948) about there finally being a STATE OF ISRAEL. I could not understand why we were not there. So, I have fulfilled my greatest wish, as I made Aliyah at age 59. It’s not easy, but it’s good, very good. My heart bursts with Jewish pride. I miss my family very much and to my sorrow no one has followed me, but as I tell people, someone has to be first.”

“I cannot imagine living anywhere else. In fact, the thought leaves me cold….shivering. Israel is the Jewish Homeland, and we must fill it with Jewish People. Where else do you sit around the Shabbat table and talk Torah in the land of the Torah? Where else can you hear words of Torah from your taxi driver? Where else do you see holy Jewish children along with men and women of all flavors jump up or reach up to kiss the Mezzuzah as they enter the bank, post office, supermarket and most every other building? Where else can one live a full and complete Jewish life including living by the Jewish calendar and holidays?”

She continued,

“Our streets, with Jewish names, are filled with Jewish Songs, praying and thanking G-d for the privilege of living in the land HE gave to us so long ago. We are constantly exposed to memorials of fallen Jewish heroes and gravesites of the most famous and holy Jews of our ancient and modern history. We are inundated with Shuls both ancient and modern. Shabbat Eve reverberates with the joy of Shabbat preparations. In the Land, a variety of Jews gather for festivals, outings, parades, and marches—young and old, rich and poor. We come from all walks of life, undivided by social barrier or level of observance. All mix of Jews live in the Land: Ethiopian, Russian, European, American, Spanish, and French etc. We are children of the same Divine parent and we all share the Land of our sacred home in order to fulfill our divine, sacred mission.”

Aliyah was the best decision of my life. As I experience daily the life of a Jew in the Land, I feel sorry that I did not come sooner. I also feel sorry for Jews that are not here to experience all the innate pleasures embedded in life in the Land. And of course, being surrounded by our brothers and sisters, like-minded and diverse Jewish Souls, is the biggest bonus. Dorit says, “Come on Home and fulfill your destiny now.” Dorit is one of many Jews who feel “THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO PLACE LIKE HOME!”

Friends, there is no better time than now to Come Home and experience for yourself what it is like “LIVING IN ISRAEL” the Divine Birthright of the Jewish people. Add your own story to the ongoing story of G-ds beloved nation in The Holy Land.

With continued blessings for revealed good, health, joy and love, Ariella Bracha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parshat Devarim: Stating the Facts Relating To the Land Of Israel

 zOya6602930croppedParshat Devarim: Stating the Facts Relating To the Land Of Israel

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

In last week’s Torah portion, which begins the 5th book of Moses called Devarim, we read that Moses’ life is drawing to an end. I cannot imagine the sadness that must have gripped the Israelites, as their beloved teacher and leader is about to depart the world. I find myself getting emotional from reading it. I also find myself longing for our Jewish nation to have a leader and guide of Moses’ stature today, in order to shift everything in the right direction and bring our long awaited Messiah and Our Holy Temple, of which we are now in mourning.

Just as I am becoming immersed in the grief over Moses’ departure, the Parsha shifts to the happy news that the Jewish people will enter the land of Israel after his passing. These enormous contrasting emotions serve, at least in my mind, to convey the greatness of the merit and privilege of COMING INTO THE LAND on the heels of his passing.

Rav Avraham Yitzchak haKohein Kook, OBM writes in the book, “OROT”: “Eretz Yisrael is not an external entity, an addition to the nation or a means to attain physical or even spiritual achievements. Eretz Yisrael is an integral part of the nation, inextricably bound to her inner existence. It is impossible to explain in a rational way.” Perhaps this is why so many Jews residing in the land have an irrational love for the Land. I feel it myself, as do many of my friends and for sure my holy husband.

Gideon Weitzman writes in his book, “Sparks of Light: Essays from Rav Kook” on Devarim,

“The Jews were returning to their long lost home. The Land of Israel had remained a dream for 210 years of exile in Egypt and 40 years of wandering in the desert. Now, they were about to recapture her and there was anticipation and hope in the air. In Eretz Yisrael, they would have unheard of opportunities they had been denied during their stay in Egypt and their desert journey. In Israel, they would have authentic expression as a nation and all that that implied, for only in Israel could the Jewish people be a completely unified nation.

It is at this juncture that Moshe expounds upon the teachings embedded in each of the previous four books of the Bible. Moshe conveys the deep messages of the Torah directives. He speaks of the tasks of Am Yisrael as a nation of diverse ideals. He speaks of certain groups having to deal entirely with spiritual matters while the majority would be entrusted with working in the physical world.  Moshe knew that if they could absorb the principles of the Torah, they would successfully conquer the land, both physically and spiritually.

Moshe implored the people to merge, in order to enable the mundane to rise up and touch the divine, the spiritual to vitalize the physical, not only as individuals but as an entire nation. Moshe longed for them to understand that in order to fuse heaven and earth, the nation must be fully conscious of their abilities and responsibilities and be united.

These were Moshe’s final lessons: his messages for the life of the Jewish people and with these spoken words, he passed from the world. These vital teachings were to be our survival manual throughout history. Far from being the end, however, the Book of Devarim is just the beginning. True, it is the end of Moshe’s Torah, but it is the start of life for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. It is the prologue to the eternal story of Jewish history, of a nation who lived independently in their land, of a nation whose history was all part of a divine plan and of a nation assigned the tasks of revealing G-d’s Divine name in their actions and history.”

And there we have it, the straight facts from Moses, the greatest prophet of Israel—our redemption from Egypt was for the express purpose of residing in Eretz Yisrael, in order to fulfill our Divine mission and claim our birthright. If Moses taught it to the nation before his passing, it is equally binding today. As Gideon Weitzman so succinctly stated, “In the land of Israel, they would have authentic expression as a nation and all that that implied. “

May we merit to comprehend and absorb the deep messages of the Torah that Moses spoke in Devarim and follow through on them today, in order to claim our birthright in the Land of Israel, as loyal servants of the King of Kings. May we all join our nation in our beloved, sacred homeland to fulfill our task of revealing G-ds name and thus bring about the conclusion of our history with our rebuilt Temple, so we can end the intense mourning and turn it into intense joy!

With blessings, 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

 

 

 

Reflections on my Aliyah

Reflections on my Aliyah: The Decision, Days Leading Up to Departure, Second Thoughts, the Three Year Itch

art,colorful,surreal,balloons,beautiful,painting-a4e64230ffe3383f4899946024cb9b05_hWednesday, May 27th my husband and I left for Denver, Colorado to visit our children and grandchildren. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that we were saying goodbye to them in order to embark on our aliyah journey to the holy land. Our decision to make aliyah was for me the most difficult decision of my life. This was completely related to the aspect of leaving my daughters and not being a visible part of their lives on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.  I had been a single mother for 10 years raising two exquisite daughters whom I love with all my being. I treasure being in their presence: talking, sharing, laughing and learning about life and just being together. I had promised them that we would always be together and live near each other, especially since their father had died at a young age. Now I would be leaving them and the weight of the decision felt enormous. The distance from Denver to Israel felt as if I was taking a journey to the center of the Universe in order to live in a galaxy far, far away. My oldest daughter was pregnant with our first grandchild when we made the decision. My friends said that once I became a grandma, I would have great difficulty leaving. This off-handed remark gave rise to an inner reflection leading to the question: who am I as a Jew and what is my mission and purpose in life? Even with my limited exposure and knowledge of Judaism, I unequivocally knew that the Divine inheritance of the Jewish nation was the Land of Israel.

The Decision

As I stated in my intro to this blog, I was perfectly content with how my life was unfolding. We had settled nicely into the Torah observant Jewish community and felt as if we were flourishing. My career was continuing to advance with great success and compensation. We lived in a big, beautiful 3500 sq. ft. house and we relished everything about our life. We were enjoying theater, culture, family, friends and all was well. My husband and I were traveling to Israel once a year and filling up on the spiritual pleasures to be found there. What could be better?

However, to be brutally honest, even though our life felt fulfilling at some level, our souls did not concur with that assessment. If one can make such a seemingly strange statement about one’s soul, there was actually an undercurrent of soul dissatisfaction especially after being repeatedly exposed to life as a Jew in the Holy Land.  At some undefinable level, it appeared that our souls felt the Divine communications calling out to us, demanding to be heard. My husband connected to this level and had tuned into the frequency. He had been asking me for three years to make the move to live in Israel. Finally in an epic show of determination, my husband took the stance of the lion of Judah and stated that he wanted us to return home, the home of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. He said he could no longer be living away from his soul source because he was suffering. Would I make the leap of faith and courageously embrace the path that God outlined for us in his Torah? I was taken aback by the pain and the power of his plea. For the first time I realized that I was staring at the soul of my husband manifested through his words and longings.

Denver-City-ParkWhat was actually preventing me from saying yes? Other than the pain of leaving my children, I ascertained the truth in one of my night-time inner thought wrestling matches, battling it out in order to arrive at my decision. Honestly, I did not feel compelled to upgrade my spiritual status by moving to the Holy Land. I was truthfully mired in the GOOD LIFE in America and honestly, the shopping, museums and weather, along with everything else was great.  I knew my way around the city and Colorado is a gorgeous State with great outdoor activities and stunningly beautiful vistas. Additionally, I am one of those people who hate and fear not knowing where I am going and I could not imagine trying to find my way around Jerusalem or Israel where most of the signs are in Hebrew or Arabic. As I was thinking it through, I began to stack the deck in my mind in favor of saying no. G-d obviously had other plans and a miracle was forthcoming as a soul shift began to manifest. I attribute it not only to the mighty prayers my husband must have prayed but additionally to the fact that he began to whine continuously and whining drives me crazy.

As a successful business woman, I knew how to look at the big picture and make calculations for profitability and growth. Ultimately I began to calculate the cost to my soul of staying in America and living the GOOD LIFE versus moving to Israel, our Divine inheritance and living THE GREAT LIFE in the Land of the Living. I recognized a long time ago that life is truly a “Journey of the Soul” and I desperately wanted to embrace that journey. I had somehow forgotten the reality along the way, as materialism, career and busyness claimed both my attention and my life. As I began a careful calculation of soulful profitability in mitzvah opportunities alone, I perceived that the opportunities and numbers were staggering. Living every day of your life alongside your family and community and sharing your wealth and gifts with your nation to live a Divine ideal: What could be better? This combination of both the practical and the spiritual brought me to my decision to say “yes”: to myself and my husband. The truth is, in spite of the inner sadness at the mere thought of leaving my precious daughters, there was an equally intense feeling of exhilaration, as I began to gauge what my soul and my husband’s soul stood to gain by living in The Holy Land.

I must confess however that throughout the year of readying for our departure, my most fervent prayers were that G-d should remove any attachments I had to our stuff because I loved our stuff and was very tied to it.  In the end, we gave away three-fourths of our possessions and we did so without pining for any of it. Another miracle from HaShem.

Days leading up to our departure

I can actually relive, even now, the inner tension that was building up to our departure date of July 13, 2003. It had nothing to do with thoughts of adjustments of language or culture or government or medical system.  It had nothing to do with safety in Israel or the fact that we would be surrounded by enemies on all sides. It was all about separation from family. The days prior to our departure were extremely hectic. Sleep escaped me as I knew the day was fast approaching to say my temporary good-byes until we were to see each other again. We were all holding a tight rein on our emotions so as not to drown each other in our unexpressed feelings…..all intermingling with sadness and joy. My daughters expressed their pride in our longing to follow our dreams and our destiny. They knew it was a courageous undertaking and that I was actually going against my nature in leaving them.

What fortified me throughout the emotional days leading up to our departure was that I kept tuning in to the divinely implanted understanding which is fixed within the soul of every Jew: that we could not live a truly and completely authentic Jewish life outside our Biblical and national homeland.  Like the migrating animals who know their inborn journey and destiny without a guide or roadmap, they return home instinctively knowing where they belong.  We Jews have the same divinely implanted inner homing device that brings us into alignment with our deepest self when we return to our natural habitat.

Second thoughts

El-Al-Airline-Flights-to-Israel-are-Direct-Non-stop-and-Serve-48-Destinations-WorldwideUpon arrival at the airport, there was no one to greet us, since we came on an El Al flight alone. We did our paperwork and processing through the Jewish agency. It did feel strange and lonely knowing only a handful of people scattered throughout Israel but at the same time, it felt like the adventure of a lifetime.  We felt like explorers and since we had each other, we knew we would be fine. Our paperwork was partially processed at the airport and they gave us money and a voucher for a taxi to the Old City of Jerusalem…our new home. Our friend in the Old City had the key to our apartment and greeted us as we stepped out of the Taxi. He helped us carry our six bags up the steps to our apartment and as he opened the door, he said, “Welcome Home, this apartment has been waiting for you your whole life!” Tears exploded from my eyes and cascaded down my face as I felt the truth of his prophetic words.

Walking through the small but adequate apartment with wonderful light and air-flow, we felt like we were living on top of the world. There were no second thoughts, EVER. We felt that we had made the choice of a lifetime and would never look back and we never have and life gets better every year. I can say that honestly and joyously.

The initial adjustments of grocery shopping were as humorous as they were challenging and we quite often found ourselves laughing sometimes even as we cried in frustration. Even when communication challenges arose, we took it with a grain of salt as they say. Since my husband and I were 54 and 56, we had experienced a lot of life challenges and didn’t create mountains out of every situation. Prior to making Aliyah, we had assessed the possible challenges. We knew that our only real choice was to flow with the challenges instead of waging war with them. This saved our sanity.

Three year itch

yomhatzmautpoem2It never manifested, thank G-d! What did manifest was an itch to own land and buy a place of our own. Soon after that itch became very real, we decided to move north to Tzfat and build a house. Most people say, you have to be crazy to build a house in Israel and yes, I can attest to that truism.

Israel is vastly different today than 12 years ago, on every level: shopping, culture, roadways, transportation, economy, medical upgrades, housing, restaurants, and things to do. It is not only a spiritual paradise with the most phenomenal classes and teachers but the resorts and hotels are world class because, every Jew that returns home builds up the nation on various levels and contributes to the upgrading on every level. What could be better? In truth, there is no comparison. What we have gained cannot really be calculated, as I initially perceived.  Here in G-ds beloved garden, the mitzvah opportunities touch the soul and connect it upwards in a way that defies description.

Make the decision of a lifetime to upgrade your Jewish Life on every level in the Jewish Homeland.

With love and Blessings, Ariella Bracha

 

Reflections on Blessings and Nationhood: Parsha Vayakhel

Reflections on Blessings and Nationhood

Parsha Vayakhel

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Yesterday was one year from the date I received my positive test results from a full body scan showing that there was no cancer present in my body. Additionally, one month ago my lung CT indicated all was fine in my lungs. Hodu l’HaShem! The kindness of G-d fills my heart and soul to overflowing. There are no words that I can find in my vocabulary to express to G-d my gratitude for the treasured gift of health and so I will share with you some of the words contained in my favorite prayer NISHMAT:

The soul of every living being shall bless your Name, G-d our G-d; the spirit of all flesh shall always glorify and exalt your remembrance, our King. From this world to the world to come, you are G-d, and other than you we have no King, Redeemer or Savior. He who liberates, rescues, sustains, answers and is merciful in every time of distress and anguish, we have no king, helper or supporter but you! G-d of the first and of the last, G-d of all creatures, master of all generations who is extolled through a multitude of praises, who guides His world with kindness and His creatures with mercy. G-d is awake, behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps. He who rouses the sleepers and awakens the slumberers, who resuscitates the dead, heals the sick and gives sight to the blind, who makes the mute speak and releases the bound, who supports the fallen and straightens the bent. And to You alone we give thanks. Were our mouth as full of song as the sea, and our tongue as full of joyous song as its multitude of waves, and our lips as full of praise as the breath of the heavens, and our eyes as brilliant as the sun and moon, and our hands as outstretched as Eagles of the sky and our feet as swift as hinds, we still could not thank you sufficiently, G-d our G-d and G-d of our forefathers and to bless your Name, our King for even one of the thousands of thousands and myriad of myriad of favors, miracles and wonders that you performed for our ancestors and for us.

I believe this aptly expresses the depth of my feelings.

552848_468385093175462_419601898_nAs a result of my uplifted feelings, I felt a celebration was in order.  I decided to fully engage all aspects of my being: both physical and spiritual. I picked up a friend and drove to the indoor pool located at the country club in Tzfat. The country club is a lovely privately owned club with a fabulous indoor pool, large Jacuzzi, steam and saunas, exercise classes, state of the art exercise equipment and my favorite: a ping pong table. There are separate men and women’s hours and it is truly a blessing for the Tzfat community. The pool itself looks out on forested hills and lush grassy areas covered in brilliant red crown anemones and poppies intermingled with sunny yellow mustard plants and yellow crown daisies. The colorful flowers and trees, along with the vibrant blue sky, was a visual feast for my eyes as they were in my visual range, while I swam in the waters of the pool . I felt surrounded by G-d’s magnificence and it took my breath away and carried my soul aloft on wings of joy.

Afterwards, being in gratitude mode, I offered a ride to an acquaintance and drove towards the location of my Torah class. Along the way, I noticed a friend who also needed a ride so I stopped. It turned out that both women to whom I was giving rides were going to the same place as I: the women’s Beit Medrash to learn Torah.  During the drive, we engaged in stories of Divine Providence in order to not only express our joy and gratitude but to make G-d’s name great by reminding each other of His constant interaction in our lives. It is so soul nourishing to share such stories, as they add power to the Jewish nation and bring great light into the world. The class itself was exciting and uplifting amidst lively discussion, joy and goodwill.

After class, I popped into a Pizza restaurant and had a yummy piece of warm, sizzling cheesy pizza for lunch. Pizza is one of my favorite foods and it is so nice to be able to have access to it so easily. Israel has everything your palate could desire and it is all available with ease from Jewish-owned restaurants.

free_israel_photos_cranes_over_hermon_1920On the way to my car, I was blessed to have the opportunity to give charity to four Holy Jews. Sharing the bounty of the riches G-d has bestowed upon me always brings me joy. I headed home to our beautiful house situated on a dunam (quarter acre) of land which looks North to Hermon mountain: the highest in Israel at 5,000 feet and east to the Hula valley: the migratory bird pathway. Our house also looks out over a grazing pasture for horses and cattle. I was gifted with seeing three handsome horses grazing very near the fence, close to our house. I was giddy with joy because horses hold a special place in my heart, as I grew up riding horses, which we kept on our property. Above the pasture is the IDF Northern Command center which is a very significant military installation. We frequently see helicopters landing there with important military personnel. This large installation reminds us of the blessings of the IDF and the protection they provide to our country and people.

Living in Israel, one can go from one mitzvah to the next and constantly interact with the people and land: in fact there is no escaping it and it binds us together in strong, magnificent ties. It reminds me of who I am, where I am and of my purpose in the world. After experiencing a day filled with connections to the Land and our nation, and with the memory of my good news, I felt the full weight of my blessings envelop me in a loving embrace. I went outside to quiet my thoughts and drink in the beauty of the view when a Torah commentary I had read the day before entered my mind.

mishkanThis weeks Torah portion Vayakhel deals with the nation actually starting the process of constructing the Sanctuary and it relates a stunning aspect of our national essence. In the book titled “Sparks of Light” based on the philosophy of Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, Ztzl, on the weekly Torah portion, by Gideon Weitzman, he addresses the dynamic of The Temple and Jewish nationhood and states the following:

Am Yisrael is the foundation of the house of G-d in this world. Through our existence, G-d has a house and a place to dwell in the physical world. Such is our strength and our task in the world. ‘Build Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell amongst them’ (Shmot25:8). This can be understood as referring not only to the actual Beit HaMikdash or Mishkan, but also to the Temple of our Nationhood. G-d dwells within Am Yisrael! The book of Shemot, in which this portion is read, is in essence the book of the birth of Israel. This birth is through a continuous process of meeting G-d.

If we look at Am Yisrael, we are, in fact, viewing G-d Himself. Here we have discovered the ultimate way of meeting G-d. When we encounter Am Yisrael, we meet G-d. We are His chosen people, and we are the foundation of His earthly existence. The Temple is built on us. We are the House of G-d. We are indivisible from our maker and we must be viewed in conjunction with Him.

What a stunning interpretation!

The wisdom and instruction of this week’s Torah portion of Vayakhel, solidifies in my mind the blessing of being actively engaged with my fellow Jews in our homeland, where the majority of Jews reside. May Rav Kook’s powerful, intimate message arouse a longing to help build the foundation of His earthly existence in His Beloved nation, in our Biblical inheritance which is the House of G-D! Enter it at Will!

Jewish friends, you are needed here, in G-d’s beloved Garden to channel all your gifts and talents and money into the building up of our nation and G-ds honor in the Homeland HE willed us. May you return home and just like the Jews in this week’s Torah portion who were involved in the task of building the Sanctuary, become involved in the building up of our land and nation so that you too can enter the Temple of our Nationhood in the Homeland of our Nation: Eretz HaKodesh.

Shabbat Shalom, Ariella Bracha