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May 1, 2007

Kosher Style

The Kumah blog has a post about American Orthodox Jewry being Kosher Style, rather than Kosher.
Yishai lambastes American Orthodox Jewry for their acting frum and being concerned with vrious mitzvos, but not being concerned about the mitzva of moving to Israel. And even worse, Yishai says, they encourage, by their mere presence in America, Israelis to leave Israel and make "yerida".

I am not sure where he gets that from. Israelis make yerida to all parts of the world and not just to the USA. There was even a recent article in Ynet from and Israeli living in Australia calling on Israelis to leave Israel and forget the USA but to move to other countries such as Australia. For obvious reasons I will not link to the article. None of the reasons he mentioned in his call for Israelis to make yerida included the reason given by Yishai.

So I am not sure if his suggestion for the cause of yerida is accurate or not. Maybe it is a reason some people use in their justification of yerida. Among other reasons as well, I would guess.

People get in a huff about aliya, often unlike anything else. Yes, it is important. Yes, it is a mitzva. But is it the only mitzva? Is making aliya really more important and exclusive than any of the other mitzvos that Yishai has a right to declare Orthodox Jews "kosher style"? What if someone made aliya but did not keep shabbos - according to Yishai that is better than keeping shabbos in the USA - is that also "kosher style" or it that really "kosher" and possibly (based on Yishai's tone) even "mehadrin kosher". Is Yishai really God's accountant (a term I saw on Areivim and really like but don't remember who coined it) that he can say with confidence that aliya is more important?

Yes, aliya is important. Yes, aliya is a mitzva. I encourage all of you readers in the Diaspora to consider making aliya to Israel as soon as you can. But living a Jewish life in the USA, or any other country, should not be labelled "kosher style". Even when we had a Beis HaMikdash (the second) most Jews did not live in Israel. It is presumptuous for anyone to say they know the value of mitzvos and some are more important than others and some make your practice into real Judaism and some don't.

The points Yishai makes about aliya and the reasons for it are all good ones. I obviously support making aliya to Israel, and this post should not be misconstrued to suggest otherwise. The thing is, some people forget that there are people behind the statistics. Often it is difficult for people to uproot themselves from their lives, friends and family and move. There are parnassah issues involved, cultural issues involved, emotional issues involved, etc. It is wrong to criticize someone so harshly for not making aliya. Aliya is important, but it has to be a decision that people come to when they are ready for it (of course, they should be honest with themselves and be pushing off aliya for the right reasons, not just because it is uncomfortable).

We want successful aliya, not just aliya.


  1. I think there is merit in Yishai's point that you don't see as an FFB.

    I don't think that we can take the approach that "aliyah isn't for everyone" just like we can't say "keeping Shabbat isn't for everyone."

    With keeping Shabbat, there are also parnassah issues, family issues (will a spouse join you--if you're hozer b'tsuvah when you're married), how this will affect your extended family, parents etc.

    Aliyah can't be seen as a voluntary mitzvah, or an optional hiddur of being frum.

    There are cases when indeed aliyah is impossible due to health or taking care of infirm relatives who can't be relocated. But unfortunately for too many "frum yidden" aliyah is never really, honestly on their agenda.

    And for these Jews, Yishai is right. They're only kosher style.

  2. actually in halacha aliya is equated with a mitzva like tzitzis. You get a mitzva if you wear a four-carnered garment with tzitzis, but you dont have to wear such a garment. You get a mitzva if you make aliya, but you do not have to,.

    Sure, it is a basic tenet of Judaism. The Jewish Nation was meant to be living in Israel. Everybody should be making aliya. But after 2000 years of exile we cannot just come along and say the jews in the diaspora are only kosher style because they have not made aliya.

  3. Absolutely, Rafi.

  4. Making aliyah isn't always an option. Those of us in America were born where our parents chose to settle, and as such, we forged roots in our birthplace. To leave behind family and parnassah isn't always an option.

    Many of us have aspirations to make aliyah someday, but current financial committments (paying back student loans, business investments, etc.) and uprooting school age children to a completely different culture and a place where English is a second language is not the best choice at this stage of life.

    I think kosher or kosher style living is up to the individual. One can live a kosher style life in Israel too. It all depends on attitude and has nothing to do with where you live.

  5. Rafi,

    While I also do not agree using the term "Kosher Style, rather than Kosher" for all American Jewry (although that term can be correctly used for many American Jews, as well as many Israelis also), and I do not agree that "their mere presence in America, encourage Israelis to leave Israel and make yerida" (although the large religious communities in chu"l do give religious Israelis a very convenient alternative, and maybe even a justification, when they do consider leaving Israel), but I do want to take issue with you for questioning the importance of aliya.
    Is it the only mitzvah? No, but it sure is a very important one that does define a religious Jew and place him as an active participant in the jewish nation and not just as an outside observer. Don't get me wrong. I have many relatives and close friends living in chu"l, each for his own reason, who are good, religious, and yes, Kosher, Jews, but they are only observing Jewish history play itself out on CNN rather than being a player in the game.
    You cannot be god's accountant and do not know the considerations of anyone who decided not to make his life in Israel – as long as he actually made a conscientious decision. But, unfortunately, a big proportion of American Jewry did not make the decision that they cannot come on aliya, but rather never even seriously thought about it.
    And yes, there are some mitzvot that are more important than others! "Living in Eretz Yisrael is important (shakul) as all the other mitzvoth together" (which is only said about a very few very important mitzvoth, such as Shabbat) and "whoever lives in Israel is as if he has a god, but whoever lives in chu"l is as if he is doing idolatry" etc., etc., etc.
    And by the way, you state "Even when we had a Beis HaMikdash (the second) most Jews did not live in Israel" – but the Medrish says that as a commendation of the Jews of Babel that did not come, and the "aliya" of Ezra and Nechemya was not worthy of the miracles, as was yoshuah, because the majority of Jews stayed away.
    Also, your comment " in halacha aliya is equated with a mitzva like tzitzis. You get a mitzva if you wear a four-cornered garment with tzitzis, but you don't have to wear such a garment. You get a mitzva if you make aliya, but you do not have to" is not really correct (if you do wear a 4 corned garment- you MUST put on zizit) and the poskim that do define aliya as a "kiyumit" and not a chiyuvit (and many do not agree with them) are referring to the fact that aliya is not like Shabbat that you must do under any circumstance – but aliya has to take considerations such as parnasa and family etc.

  6. Louis -you misunderstood me. About comparing it to tzitzit, you are supporting my point because you misunderstood it. Yes, if you wear a four cornered garment you must wear tzitzit and then you get the mitzva. But you do not have to wear a four cornered garment. The same is true with aliya - if you make aliya you get the mitzva. But there is no actual obligation to do so just like there is no actual obligation to wear a four cornered garment.
    This is at least the opinion of many contemporary rabbonim, including Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l. I know you are probably thinking that they only say so because they need to justify their existence in America rather than Israel. I have no answer for that other than to say one either trusts their integrity or not. I do. Maybe I am naive.

    I never downplayed the importance of aliya. I hold it is of utmost importance and is a mitzva everyone should do. However I feel it is wrong to criticize those who do not, or those who do not yet. Many (maybe some do not even consider it) have complications, as frumhouse suggested some, and it is not easy. It is not for me to criticize them for not coming to Israel or justify their existence in the Diaspora. they have to make the decision.

    As a matter of fact, the Lubavitcher Rebbe was famous for never having come to visit Israel. His opinion was that if he came he would not be allowed to leave. but he did not have to come.

    All the more so, the gemara you quoted about thos eliving abroad do not have a God also says that there are three things a person can leave Israel for. One is parnassah, another is a zivvug and the third is for learning Torah (these three are based on my memory and might not be accurate). Aside from the fact that these reasons do apply (parnassa is probably the biggest of the reasons right now for this discussion), they also indicate that jews have a right to live abroad. I mean how is one looking for his zivvug outside of Israel if no Jews were allowed to live abroad? The same for learnign Torah - if no jews are allowed to live outside of Israel, where is one going to learn Torah?

    You put me in a difficult position. I have no interest in justifying existemce outside of Israel. I think Jews need to be here in Israel. But I do understand that it is not easy and there are many pressures and considerations that force Jews to stay in Chu"l.
    I think it is wrong to call them kosher style or anything similar. Their existence in chu"l is not optimal - Jews are supposed to be in eretz yisrael. But it is allowed and hopefully over time they will be able to work out their issues and come to israel. The real problem is Jews who think "berlin is the new Jerusalem" and apply that to monsey and Lakewood and other places and have no interest in moving to Israel.

  7. another point I wanted to make but forgot to include is this:
    The bashing of US Jewry for not making aliya en masse is similar to many people who talk the whole davening and/or during every mi sheberach said. yet when the shul comes to the mi sheberach for the soldiers or for the State of israel, all of the sudden they make sure to stand up and be quiet and give dirty looks to anyone who talks, sits or does anything else.
    Yes, the state of Israel is important. Yes, the mi sheberach is important and should be respected. but is it more important than the rest of davening? is it more important than the other mi sheberachs?

    People overdo it. Somebody makes aliya and then has to bash everybody who does not. Somebody goes to Har Habayit and then bashes everybody who does not (not you but I have a different friend who does, he will remain nameless). Somebody starts keeping chalav yisrael and then bashes everyone who does not. Someone keeps only glatt and bashes everyone who eats Rabbanut. someone starts covering her hair and bashes everyone who does not. someone uses a tichel instead of a wig and bashes everyone who does not. and so on.

    People need to calm down. My way is not everyone's way. Your way is not everyone's way. his way is not everyone's way. Everybody has their own issues and has to work these things out between themselves, their conscience, halacha, their rav and ultimately God.

  8. doesn't the Ramban have a shita that seems to agree with Yishai. I can't remeber where he says it, but he says that mitzvas in chutz la'aretz are basically practice for when we need to do them for real in Eretz Yisroel

  9. ed - yes, the ramban in chumash does say that (or somethign siilar to that at least - I do not have the text in front of me and have not seen it in a long time).
    People who make aliya (myself included) like that Ramban, even if we have never learned any other ramban in our lives. :-)

    That does nto change my opinion.
    I should look it up and then coment further on it. Maybe there is an astute reader who knows the specific ramban and can tell us what he actually says? is it practice (I think he does not call it practice but something similar)? does he criticize those who do not live in Israel?

  10. rafi

    1. There are rabbonim who have paskened that there is no chiyuv of Yishuv right now, because there is no real "kibush" of EY. (I do not say I agree, just supplying a halachic ruling knegged yishai.

    2. I have seriously considered aliyah and have chosen not to (yet...). I beleive there's even a ramabam that talks about zman moshiach that even then not all Jews will live in EY.

    3. As you said Yishuv EY is only like Tzizit. Not like shabbos!

    4. It really goes to the same argument of Yom Haatzmaut and is more of a political hot button than a real halachic debate.

    5. Yishai is ignoring the economic hardships and medical problems that go hand in hand with most americans making aliyah, and even most Israelis making Yeridah. They come and stay because they can feed their families here much better than in Israel. theer is NO chiyuv to be moser nefesh for Yishuv EY. YES, we should all have that as a goal, but nor is it l'gnai if we are not there.

    6. He's no better than the chareidim telling all jews what to do. I'm so glad he's paskening for the rest of us.

  11. ed:

    i think you are referring to the ramban (?) where in most editions he mentions that תו"מ are only for practice in galut. this was understood by many to refer to terumot u-maasrot, but (based on mss?) should read tefilin u-mezuzot. i can't look it up now.


    i am going to come off sounding like a big hypocrite . . . but iirc (disclosure: from my bnei akiva indoctrination) the nature of the mitzvah of yishuv haaretz is a big mahloket and there are strong mekorot that is hiyyuvit bizman hazeh. can't cite on this now either. but for this reason i don't think rav mosheh needed to rule the opposite in order to justify his own living arrangements. he could have followed in a long line of gedolim who ruled it is a miztvah hiyyuvit and still have remained in galut.

    the notion that american jews cause yeridah is ridiculous. at the risk of sounding more ridiculous, it is israel that causes yeridah.

  12. Rafi,

    First of all I'm not Louis!
    Second, I know what Rav Moshe says (as does the "Rav") but there are many psokim that think differently and have questions (as does your Rav!) about the assumptions that there can be such a thing as a mitzvah (and if I would be Louis I'd write misswa) that is not an obligation. (zizit and may other mitvot are obligatory – but with a condition). Like I said, there are different opinions and many books written on the topic.
    Thirdly, I never ever criticized or "bashed" anyone for not coming on aliya (or for doing or not doing anything for that matter – well, maybe for a few things…). Yes you can go to chul to get married, parnasah and learn torah (but I don't recall any poskim allowing yeridah in order to get better tuna or cheaper prices at amazing savings) I just said that there are many good Jews that do not make a thought-out decision, and in all cases, whether their choice is the correct one for them or not, they are missing out on a big part of being part of klal yisrael.
    I think we actually do agree on the main issue.

  13. oops - sorry about that Yehudah. My mistake. Yes, probably most Jews, even religious ones, don't even think about it as an option. That is because we all live our lives for the most part on inertia. We keep the same habits no matter how bad they are until something jolts us out of it. We don't go out and exercise, we eat red meat, we smoke or we do whatever just because that is what we are used to doing. To make a change requires great energy and usually is not in the picture unless something extreme happens.

    Nobody makes eyridah or staysin the USA for the cheap tuna prices. But when you consider the cheap tuna is just one of many other cost of living issues, including the salary in Israel being much smaller then the big picture says parnassah is easier int he US. Is it true? I do not know. there are plenty of Jews in the US who have a hard time making ends meet. But people think it is the goldene medinah and if they live there they will automatically be rich.

    Then there are just some peopel who don't like the poltics here, the pressures, the religious pressures, or whatever and leave just to get away from it all. Like what Ari said above - Israel makes Israelis make Yeridah - people get sick of it here. I love it. Others don't.

  14. yI gotta say I agree with you whole heartedly and it's the opposing opinions that made me not want to come here at all after the first visit - it took 7 years to get over all of the "we're better jews that you" abuse I got while visiting the first time.

    I haven't had aliya on my agenda, and unless I meet someone perfect and fall in love here, it doesn't look to be on my agenda. I like my life in the USA - I like that my family's there. I like that I made a comfortable living. I like that I had non-Jewish friends, too. And I like visiting here and spending time here. But it's just not home.

    And by the way, I don't wear any four-cornered garments, either.

  15. Rafi G. - I totally agree with you and I write for Kumah. In fact I wrote an open letter to Yishai here.

    A thing to add from Rav Zev Leff about Rav Moshe's pasak that Aliyah is a Mitzvah Rashus like Tzitzis. He said if someone didn't want to wear Tzitzis ever you wouldn't call them a Yera Shamayim, would you? Same is true with Aliyah - all Jews that call themselves Yera Shamayim should strive and want very much to perform this mitzvah rashus while bearing in mind you need s'deata d'shmaya (divine will and help) to be able to be zoche (merit) to live in the holyness of Eretz Yisrael. Even Moshe Rabbanu himself did not merit this - though her certainly wanted it!

  16. I just saw another Ramban quoted (still don't know where) that in his list of mitzvos he counts yishuv E"Y.

    I think it's safe to say that there are rishonim to depend on no matter which stance you take.

    I also want to commend everyone for the professional way everything is being discussed, without the loshan hora that goes on in many comment threads. Sh'koyach

  17. I'll throw my two cents in.

    My parents made Aliyah when I was 12. I acclimated after 2 years and when I was 18 decided to move back to the US.

    Reasons: Parnasah. I wasn't going anywhere careerwise. Here in the US, thanks to generous Gov. Scholarships, I completed a degree and have a decent job.

    Family: Only my parents live in IL. The rest live here. It's tough without extended family.

    Culture: I like it here more.

    Now, could be there or isn't a chiyuv to leave in IL now. Dunno.

    But to proclaim that people should just uproot themselves and move(like my parents did) is foolhardy. It has to make some logical sense.

    And those who call me and others just kosher jews..Well, Rafi and the others answered them very well.

  18. I love the Kumah blog, yet I too have felt hurt by the insulting dismissal of Jews who do not make aliyah.

    There are the frequent references to American Jews being more committed to their upper income lifestyle than to the aliyah mitzvah.

    I dearly wish I could move to Israel. I am 55-years-old and need to work a full-time and a part-time job in order to support myself. I have no car, savings, or health insurance. (I am hunting for a job with benefits.) I also have a brother (in a different city) with health problems. He can take care of himself now, but I expect that within the next ten years we will live together so that I can assist him.

    I will work full-time at least until I am 70. I will examine my resources at that time. If my brother is not alive and I can manage to survive in Israel I hope I can make aliyah. I am teaching myself Hebrew with that goal.

    Meanwhile, I wish that aliyah advocates would simply tell their story. Only Hashem can know the correct life path for each Jew.

  19. ED:

    "I just saw another Ramban quoted . . ."

    i think it is near the beginning of his hasagot on the rambam's sefer ha-mitzvot


    12 is also a really tough time for this type of a transition.

    regarding "kosher-style jews," i know someone who said that if he ever got a tatoo it would be a hechsher.

  20. I am glad to see that Yehuda has internalized all of the Gemara he is learning on the train. ;-)

    I think that the parnassa issue is overused and abused today. 100 years ago Jews really relied on handouts--not just for nice clothes, a gameboy or a trip to the Old Country--but to put bread & lentils (qitniyoth) on the table. People were really desparate and many starved.

    BH, the poor of today are not the poor of yesteryear. There are poor, and even hungry poor, but few Americans lack the skills that would condemn them to joining the hungry poor.

    Outside of very few people, most don't have good reasons to reject this misswa... except that they are too comfortable in their communities.

    Regarding that it is said:
    "In all times, a Jew should live in the Land of Israel, even in a city where most of the residents are idol worshippers, rather then outside the land, even in a city where most of the residents are Jews." Talmud, Ketubot 110b (also Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings 5:12)

    Finally (for now), I think that maybe they're also a bit short on emunah that they can "make it" here. The real issue is to redefine "making it" so that it focuses less on glitter and more on taking an active part in Jewish history and "ikva d'meshichah".

  21. Shalom Rafi,

    I read your article regarding the "Kosher-Style" post on www.kumah.org. While I respect your concern for mitzvot other than aliyah, I find that you are justifying (and even actively engaged in) exactly the side-stepping that is the cruxt of Yishai's post.

    To say that an article you read one time features this one Israeli who went somewhere other than America serves only to highlight that most Israelis do in fact choose America when making yerida. You focus more on the generalization than on its essential veracity - OVERWHELMINGLY, Israelis make yerida to communities close to those of Orthodox American Jews. If you think that this is a coincidence, then YOU need to do the evidence-collecting, or rather, the soul searching.

    Then you make this statement: "People get in a huff about aliya, often unlike anything else. Yes, it is important. Yes, it is a mitzva. But is it the only mitzva? Is making aliya really more important and exclusive than any of the other mitzvos ..."

    This response puzzles and concerns me. First, it strikes me as a distinctly un-Jewish (or rather un-religious) response to the call of another Jew to fulfill a mitzvah which is lacking. Typically, Orthodox Jews are very faithful about the mitzvahs, "running to do" them, as it were.

    To use your example (shabbat vs. aliyah), if you were to meet a Jew in Jerusalem who espouses himself to be Orthodox, and he told you that he doesn't keep the shabbat, you might wonder if he is really so committed. And so why is it that when meeting a Jew in Brooklyn who tells you that he puts on tefillin every day but sees no need to fulfill the mitzvah of aliyah, you don't make the same conclusion? Seems incongruous.

    Lastly, in regard to whether aliyah is a "more important" mitzvah. Well, as many of your readers know, it says in Pirkei Avot that you can't know the value of any particular mitzvah, and so you could deduce that they are equally important. That being said, aliyah is at least as important as keeping kosher, respecting your parents, or maintaining the laws of family purity. Yet one could find a very great value in aliyah, as it affects all the other mitzvahs, and therefore enhances and/or safeguards them.

    The obvious example is one that seems easy for the Orthodox Jew: marrying a Jew/ess. The last statistics I saw on assimilation in the US said that 50% of Jews in America marry goyim. If you take out the Orthodox, that's 70%. The odds of your Jewish child doing any mitzvahs AT ALL outside of Israel in 20 years is, according to the numbers, quite slim. Even if your child in Israel leaves frumkeit, given the social inclinations and the sheer demographics, your child is almost certain to marry a Jew, at least giving your grandchildren an opportunity to return to the fold.

    Furthermore, let's consider the significantly greater depth of the mitzvot in Israel: Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot, Shabbat, kashrut, orlah, shemittah - there is no comparison between religious practice in Israel (let alone the levels of Jewish knowledge) and that of the US (or any other exile state). In this sense, aliyah is just one mitzvah, and yet encompasses them all.

    Don't let your emotional shock get in the way of your intellectual honesty. It's time that the Jews of the exile understand the seriousness of their neglect and take steps to rectify it.

  22. Malka - you clearly misunderstood me. In my opinion aliya is a very important mitzva. However it is different from shabbos and most other mitzvos. If one does not keep shabbos, he is doing aveiros. Not keeping shabbos would mean he is not orthodox (though that is a generalization that I am sure is open to great debate - what is called keeping shabbos, how much makes you not ortho, etc..).
    Not making aliya does not give you an aveira, just you have failed to fulfill a (very important) mitzva. Clearly there is a difference.
    If one does not keep kosher, he is eating non-kosher food. If one does not make aliya, he is "simply" not fulfilling a mitzva, but not getting an aveira.

    I agree 100% that the importance of aliya is great. It is more than a mitzva in my mind - it is a given. It is a pre-requisite to living a real Jewish life. However, the facts are that it is very difficult for many to do so. Yes, some people do not even consider it honestly. Some people brush it off and do not ascribe importance to it. They are wrong.

    Another factor I might add, and might get jumped on for, is the Zionist factor. Many ultra-orthodox Jews are against the "idolatry" of zionism (to quote from many people) and the fact that the leadership here is so bad and even anti-religious in many people's eyes, makes them rationalize further their staying away.

    Yishai's post, at least as I understood it, was not just critical of the side-stepping of people who do not consider aliya seriously. It was extremely critical and harsh even against those who do consider it but for whatever reason right now cannot.

    Again, as I did earlier, I will compare it to what I myself have witnessed. In shul, someone can be talking the whole davening but when the prayer for the State of Israel is said, they stand and are quiet and criticize anyone who might talk. They take it out of proportion. They give it importance at a level it might not deserve (yes, the prayer is important, but more so than the rest of davening?).

    Yes, aliya is important. To me it is even a pre-requisite for Jews to live a full Jewish life. But often many who make aliya consider everyone else sinners way out of proportion. People have issues that need to be dealt with. It is not always so easy.
    I am not justifying anybody's existence out of Israel. I am simply saying not to judge them so harshly for not living here. Some people have it easier than others. Some people have less issues than others.

  23. The notion that Israeli's make Yerida to the whole world is simply incorrect. They make Yerida PRIMARILY to the US. One quarter of Yordim, 250,000, live between San Deigo and San Fransisco. Why do they go to America? America is a great country to live in for many reasons, but a major factor is that the US is a philo-Semetic country - and the Jews live very well, and very Jewishly. American Jewry has created an alternative to Israel. Brooklyn's Avenue J, Teaneck's Cedar Lane, Cederhurst's Central Ave, Crown Heights, Lakewood, and many others as well. Shuls are made from imported Jerusalem stone.

    Simple psychology - why should any Jew choose Israel if you can be just as Jewish in the US? American Jews are comfortable in every way: economically, politically and religiously, while Israeli Jews face war, terror, and economic hardship. The simple answer for the hard luck Israeli is a Green Card. But, the potential Yored may ask himself, what about Zionism, Eretz Yisrael and all those values? A convenient answer awaits him: If the Frum Jew of Brooklyn can live in America, feel himself totally religious, and EVEN feel that he is actually supporting Israel - then why not join him? You see, the Orthodox are SEEN as the leaders of Jewry, the most connected to G-d. So if one is so connected to G-d, but chooses to live in the Exile, it must be OK after all, this very pious-looking Orthodox American knows much more about his Jewish obligations than I do, a poorly-versed secular Israeli.

    Read through the Torah. Read through your Orthodox siddur. If you still believe that the Torah does not mandate a homeland for the Jewish people... then you need to either re-read, or start editing. To be an Orthodox Jew and to reject the centrality of Israel is to stare these holy words in the face and say "no".

    The time has come for American Orthodoxy to feel uncomfortable about choosing the Galut. This is NOT about making myself feel higher than others. This is about what Hashem wants - which, by the way, is a discussion that is sorely lacking in this discourse.

    Here is how Yehuda Halevi saw it. In his seminal work, the Kuzari, Halevi created a fictional discussion between a Jewish sage and the king of the Khazars. During their discussion, the king asked the sage about the Jewish connection to the land of Israel: “[Since the Jewish religion is so invested in the land and all of the religions based on Judaism have inherited this attachment], don’t you [Jews] fall short of your religious duty, by not endeavoring to going up the land and making it your home both in life and death? Since you say [in the blessing after reading the haftarah]: ‘Have mercy on Zion for it is the house of our life’ and you believe that God’s indwelling presence, the Shechina, will return there…it only makes sense that your souls should yearn to go up there in order to purify themselves…” (Kuzari 2:23)

    The sage replied: “Your reproach is justified, King of the Khazars. This is the reason that the Divine promise in the time of the Second Temple was left unfulfilled: ‘Shout for joy, Fair Zion! For lo, I come, and I will dwell in your midst.’ For the Divine power was ready to prevail in Zion as it had in the first place, if the people had willingly returned. But only a small part of the people was willing to return, and the majority and the people of rank remained in Babylon, preferring dependence and slavery, because they were unwilling to leave their homes and easy circumstances…” (Ibid. 2:24)

    Halevi views the fact that the redemption has not occurred as a result of the human failure to respond to the values that they purportedly believe in. Redemption will occur, according to Halevi, only when human beings live up to their obligations to God. The US is today's Bavel and American Jewry is choosing to stay put. Non-Aliyah is bad enough, but creating an alternative Israel and attracting Yerida?

    By the way, it won't last. Assimilation will do its work. My cousin has married a goy. His kid is a goy. This is happening. My intention in writing all this is to send out a hand to all Jews and to welcome them in to Hashem's greatest gift to this generation -Eretz Yisrael. If you guys want to get hung up on the idea that I am being rude or arrogant - chaval! In your comments you say that I am not aware of the hardships of Israel or in some way don't understand American Jewry. Nothing could be farther from the truth - I am just like you - I am former American Jew with an American Law degree, I know the attraction of America. I have chosen to live my life as a full Jew and now as an Oleh, I deal with economic hardships, I serve in the army and have lost people. BUT, I thank Hashem every day for giving this generation, and me within it, the opportunity to do this Mitzva of Eretz Yisrael, to live this Jewish life, and move the redemption along.

    BTW - do you know how living in Israel is like Tzitit??? They are both among the handful of Mitzvot which our Rabbis say are akin to keeping the whole Torah.

  24. Also with regard to Rafi's comment: "Yishai's post, at least as I understood it, was not just critical of the side-stepping of people who do not consider aliya seriously. It was extremely critical and harsh even against those who do consider it but for whatever reason right now cannot."

    Nothing could be farther from the truth. I am not critical of those who cannot make Aliyah now at all. I am only trying to disabuse the notion of those who think that America is the final stop on the train. Aliyah is a process - we at Kumah know this very well!

  25. I also discussed this post on my blog.

    While your points about aliyah are correct, and while many Jews (many many) do feel it is the final stop on the train (which is definitely wrong,) I don't see why that makes it Kosher Style, is if it is meaningless and only called Judaism in name only.

    You even said yourself that there are many who cannot make aliyah at this point or there are people that tried and failed, which you understand. These people do not view it as the 'final stop' in America. Are they still Kosher Style?

    As I wrote on my blog: Would Yishai suggest that the Amoraim in the times of the Gemara were living a “Kosher Style” life?

    I understand what he said about the lack of desire to get closer to G-d and the idea of the 'final stop,' but I don't think it is similar to Kosher Style. I think calling it Kosher style is insulting and wrong.

  26. Yishai - all your points are good and I agree with them. Again, I believe Aliya is a pre-requisite to Judaism.
    And I appreciate that you clarified yourself in your second comment. The real problem is when people consider America the real country for Jews. When they say Lakewood (or any other city, this is just an example) is Ir HaKodesh, rather than saying for whatever reason they need to be there and their goal is to move to eretz yisrael.

    But again, and as V commented I see, calling it Kosher Style is very harsh and I am sure it does not apply to a large percentage of American (or other countries) religious Jewry.

  27. Yishai,

    motzi la'az on a general populace of Jews is a dangerous endevor. To simply flick us away with a brush of the hand and say that we are too comfortable is speculation and generalization. Rafi and our sis-in-law is here in the states still. She has a chaishek to make aliyah with our brother and family. Her parents live there, she grew up there in EY. The reason she is still here is she has an illness that Israeli Doctors told her they couldn't handle on the level she'd get here in the states. So now, you have to apologize to all those who are here for medical reasons.

    There are culture changes and shocks. Psychologically, that affects many people. The yeridah level ought to scare you enough that if Israelis cannot handle the sit in Israel, How the heck do you expect Americans to just throw everything away and adjust. how about the unemployment level, the socialized medicine program that can backfire, the constant wars and terrorist attacks? Do not be naive and tell me about drive by's in America as an excuse of similarity. The level of threat in Israel is much greater overall than here in the states!

    The torah discusses reuven, gad, and chatzi menashe as wrong for not wanting to live in EY, but allows them to do so! If it were such a clear cut aveira, neither God nor moshe could have allowed them to make such a choice!

    National pride is admirable. As Jews, we have a kesher to Israel and I support Israel of the US, even though I choose to live in the US. But, the fact is the mitzva is an "Asei", there are rabbonim who pasken there is no current mitzva, it's a "rishus" and there are many, acceptable reasons why someone cannot make aliyah. Even if the entire reason is comfort - so what! There is no chiyuv to make oneself uncomfortable. Throughout history there have been poor jews in Europe - according to your argument, why weren't they poor in EY? why didn't they pack up and move to EY? you are disparaging gedolim and baal habatim alike.

    I would love to be able o adjust and live in EY. I choose not to right now and stand by my choice. You are simply broadbrushing all of us and denigrating our behavior without knowing or talking to or understaing the reasons.

  28. oops

    when i said "Rafi and our" i meant rafi and my sil - she is here in the states. rafi lives in EY.

  29. yishai

    lest someone mistake and say I was too harsh, let me clarify.

    I would love to live in EY. I hold my brother in the highest regard for making that choice and am jealous of his ability to do so and make it work.

    Unfortunately, I choose not to. No one assumes you are unaware of the problems. But your mesiras nefesh is "chaval" if used to judge others and that is what you are doing.

    as much as throughout history and the torah, we are tied to the Land, we also see that at ANY given point, Jews did not entirly live in the land. Jews have from day one, lived in Chutz la'aretz as well. So, beg, plead, emote all you want, DON'T JUDGE!!!

  30. 1. This discussion is about large portions of society and not individuals. Clearly, those with medical reasons and serious problems were not the subject of this debate.
    2. "How the heck do you expect Americans to just throw everything away and adjust" - Hashem does not expect Americans to make Aliyah. Hashem expects American JEWS to make Aliyah. Jews have an uncanny ability to adjust to their own homeland.
    3. "The torah discusses reuven, gad, and chatzi menashe as wrong for not wanting to live in EY, but allows them to do so!" - Nice try, but Ever Hayarden, (TransJordan) is part of the Promised Land, and that is why the 2.5 tribes were allowed to stay there. I think the Biblical case you seek reference to is the case of the 10 Spys who rejected the Land of Israel due to "security concerns". They were killed by G-d, and the Jews who followed them all died out in the 40 year time-kill-tour of the Sinai.
    4. I am not denigrating, disparaging, or broadbrushing American Orthodox Jewry which I was once part of - what I am doing is called Tochecha, rebuke, and it is a mitzva. If I sounded too harsh I truly apologize. I am trying to point out that to be a Jew is to follow Hashem's will. Hashem is calling the Jewish people back home. I am calling my brothers back home - when will you be my neighbor already? I miss you.

  31. "There is no chiyuv to make oneself uncomfortable".

    WOW! That's good. I'm sure they'll love that one when you get up to the pearly gates (you should live happily and healthily until 120!).

    It's interesting that our evil cousins have oodles of this little thing I like to call "mesirut nefesh", albeit for totally sinister and anti-divine purposes, while some of us gorge on bagels and Barney's and demand our right (and you so boldly claim that you DO have a right) to be posh. How 21st century.

    Where is that Jewish dignity that would at least cause you to feel SHAME at not wanting what our ancestors would have crawled naked through deserts for? Where is your American sense of Manifest Destiny which would tell you that with a nickel and a dream, you can accomplish anything you desire (yes, even in that awful, thorny, Old Navy-less Israel)?

    Have some pride, man!

  32. yishai - thanks for the response, even if my point about the shevatim is wrong, jews have always lived in CL. Ever hayarden, IMHO, I believe is a debated issue, if it's part of the chelek that is included in the mitzva of yishuv.
    your point 3 is just being silly, you know I meant Jews and we know people can adjust anywhere. that wasn't the problem.
    I accept your hochacha though, and do wish to one day be on your and Rafis level of living in EY.

  33. anon - reread the comments posted, then apologize. we all have national pride, I stated explixitly, I kvell in my choice to stay in the states, and dream of the day I can move.

    "WOW! That's good. I'm sure they'll love that one when you get up to the pearly gates (you should live happily and healthily until 120!)."

    this line you wrote simply takes your comment from a rebuke to a flame and belittles any point you were trying to make. whatever you are "sure of", be careful you just might be wrong!

  34. ps - "Where is your American sense of Manifest Destiny which would tell you that with a nickel and a dream, you can accomplish anything you desire"

    this was thrown out a long time ago. for every one of these success stories, there are tens of thousands of failures.

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. "As I wrote on my blog: Would Yishai suggest that the Amoraim in the times of the Gemara were living a “Kosher Style” life?"

    (at the risk of once again sounding like a hypocrite . . .)

    making aliyah in the twenty-first century is a much easier processs than it has ever been in our history. i don't think it is fair to compare the contemporary situation with the one that prevailed in ancient bavel (or for that matter in medieval germany, 19th c. lithuania, etc.).

    May 03, 2007 9:24 AM

  37. ari - yes aliya today is much easier than ever before. However, we find in the gemara that Jews lived in Israel while jews lived in Bavel. And there were messengers who were constantly travelling between bavel and Israel to relay messages between yeshivas and rosh yeshivas and stuff. Think of Ravin (ki asa ravin) and others. Travel does not sound like it was so uncommon.

  38. BTW, Rav David Bar-Hayim (of qitniyoth fame) gives a couple on nice shiurim on the views of the Rambam, Ramban and other sources about the misswa (is it one?) of living in Erets Yisrael. See http://machonshilo.org/component/option,com_docman/task,cat_view/gid,63/Itemid,64/

  39. "There is no chiyuv to make oneself uncomfortable".

    --Have you heard of "VeAhavta Et Hashem Elokecha Bechol Levavecha, Bechol Nafshecha, uVechol Meodecha" - "Love Hashem with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and all of your belongings"

    Our rabbis say: "With all of your soul - even if your soul is taken" - meaning to say, G-d may even demand your life. Remember Rabbi Akiva? They flayed his skin off and he was happy to fulfill the mitzva of Mesirut Nefesh - giving his soul!!!

    The question is simple - do you serve Hashem, or do you serve yourself?

    Living in Israel is great, and the challenges that you face are simply ways to score points in the World to Come. Our Rabbis say: "Ownership of Eretz Yisrael is acquired through hardships." Basically, they knew it was hard, but they didn't think that was an excuse not to fulfill the Mitzva. Rather they saw the hardships as an opportunity to gain ownership of Eretz Yisrael.

  40. anonymous - you make a good point about the hardships being part of the expectations in fulfilling the mitzva, but the first part I will take umbrage with. The mitzva of bchol m'odecha is on the mitzva of loving Hashem. Not on the mitzva of making aliya.

  41. Making Aliyah is loving Hashem - being closer to Him. That's the whole kit-n-kaboodle.

  42. that's pretty weak. While making aliya might mean you love Hashem, people who live in chu"l also love Hashem. They just fail to perform the mitzva of yishuv ha'aretz.
    Do you mean to tell me the Lubavitcher rebbe did not love Hashem? Reb Moshe? Reb Yaakov K? thousands and thousands of others? I do not buy it.

  43. This is exactly what I was talking about in this post here.

    We waste so much energy on trying to say who is the best Jew.

  44. Well heres my take,

    I moved to israel at 17, well I actually moved to the shomron, I went straight from ben gurion to tapuach, as few monthes turned into a year and then 3 years... I made aliyah after 3 years.. its been 4 and a half years.

    I am almost 22 ke'h, single and few bill's so its ok, I can pretty much navigate my way around the goverment crap.

    I love eretz yisrael with all my heart and soul.. so I deal with what I dont like.

    But to be honest, I fully 100% feel for all american's, and in the summer you Rafi will agree.

    You will come to america, go to the kosher super and say "holy flying saucers! this food is sick, pathetic disgusting! I wouldent even feed my dog reisman's cookies!"

    Right american gashmius eh ?? the vegtables and fruit here taste like pesticides and insectisides and wax! the bakery goods are probably what hamas uses as rockets.. and blech!

    I want my shuk! and whatnot.. you look at the patheticness and say "busha! a nebach.."

    But after 2 - 3 weeks.. you get into rhythem..at least for me, there is snapple, there are good 'ol rubashkin frank's, kmart and wallmart, marshalls and ross...

    I buy stuff on ebay and get it 3 days later as opposed to in israel 3 monthes later if I ever find someone to shlep!

    And its true, leaving your family is hard, both my grandmothers are here, both my grandfather's are buried here, and the whole extended mishpacha! I have brothers and sisters ke'h to be with.. a ima that gets on my case all day, my abba that drives me crazy...

    And sometimes the slow paced society is good for a change.

    Now, for me and you thats all nice but israel is home, not everyone else can just give up.

  45. thanks elchonon. but it is hard to figure out where you are, from what you write (I know, but maybe a lot of the readers are having a tough time deciphering it).

    Jack - that is a good point.

  46. hello
    vous pouvez laisser vos messages sur jewisheritage
    a bientot


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