The Aliyah Experience: A Mountain Climber’s Dream



Mountain climbing has been touted as one of the FINEST AND MOST EXHILARATING OPPORTUNITIES available for climbing enthusiasts, who aspire to see the world from its highest vantage point.

Mountain climbing is marketed in particular to “The Lovers of High Places,” as the difficult ascent up the mountain is not for the faint of heart or the weak of spirit. Mountain climbing is all about the persistence it takes to put hands and feet onto one obstacle after another, to eventually reach the summit of a breathtaking mountain top panorama.  It involves risk, commitment, hardship and extraordinary persistence, while at the same time providing countless uplifting, exhilarating and, some say, life altering experiences along the way. The entire process of ascending up the high mountain can ultimately foster a deep, profound sense of self actualization and renewed self confidence. Climbing enthusiasts speak of the journey up the mountain as a HOLY MISSION, providing great spiritual rewards in its purposeful pursuit.

 I didn’t realize when I chose to make Aliyah that I was signing up for one of the greatest expeditions of my life. No one told me I would be capable of unlocking and activating mental, spiritual and emotional strengths I never dreamed I possessed, in order to cope with the Aliyah challenges of  an upward climb.

Choosing to make Aliyah is a powerful metaphor for signing up for a mountain climbing expedition. Aliyah is a Hebrew word which means ascent or climb. Aliyah is about raising oneself up to a higher spiritual level in order to meet the heightened holiness embedded in the Holy Land. The Zohar teaches that Eretz Yisrael is the only place where Jews can achieve perfection, for there is a chemistry between the nation and the Land. Our Sages state that Eretz Yisrael represents and enables the highest fulfillment of earthly life, whereby the physical is brought into perfect harmony with the soul.

Reaching this level of fulfillment can only come about only through the efforts expended to do the work of refining our character. This holy and worthy endeavor leads to the ultimate peak acquisition of spiritual refinement and self actualization. This refinement is achieved through hard work and is comparable to the actual process of climbing up a mountain.

The mountain consists of many of the same situations and experiences that challenge us along the way as we attempt to settle into a new life in a new country with many unknowns gnawing at our vulnerabilities. The process of tackling the raw materials of our life and confronting our issues is the path that must be taken to reach the summit of self mastery and happiness. It requires commitment, persistence, patience, and a lofty vision. From the challenges inherent in the process, one refines himself, so that he can tap into the extra dimension of holiness embedded in the Land. It is truly a Holy Mission of epic dimension, as it is part and parcel of the Divine commandments we accepted at the revelation on Har Sinai when we received the Torah.

The new immigrant, like the mountain climber, must have a clear vision of how to move forward to assure his continued upward mobility. The success of the mission will depend on the sheer force of personal desire to move beyond the challenges that stand in opposition to the climb.  But the great comfort to be found in the challenges is that along the way, your spirit will be awakened by brilliant flashes of inspiration, even as they are looming before your eyes. Stirrings of inner awakening from years of slumber will propel you forward and without realizing it, you will be emerging into the light of the Holy Land and drawn into its spiritual vortex. Scaling the mountain of personal challenges gives you access to the self mastery needed to rise to new  levels of self awareness and Divine consciousness.  This affords you the ability to savor the spiritual bounty present in the Holy Land.

Dovid Rosoff in his book, “Land of Our Heritage” states that “As Jews, we must understand that embedded within our DNA is the inner desire to return to our ancestral homeland.  It is a spiritual blueprint that resides within us.”  Just as the bird migrating to its natural habitat, following its inborn instincts, knows that whatever heights it has to scale or whatever occurrences it has to withstand, nothing will prevent it from returning home to reach its ultimate Divine destination.

mountaintrailAliyah manifests the true path that can lead to spiritual greatness because it forces you, in the process of ascending, to see what you are made of. The pettiness and facades fall away as you catch a glimpse of the core greatness that becomes manifest in the journey up the mountain of settling into the challenges. As the process of ascent up the mountain is tackled and surmounted, you can absolutely perceive the world from a higher vantage point. Like the mountain climber who has surmounted great obstacles to finally stand atop the highest most breathtaking panoramic vista, he attests to the ultimate satisfaction of achieving his lofty goal. Reaching a deeper understanding through overcoming the challenges creates breathless moments of exhilaration. It ultimately allows you to stand atop the summit of G-d’s mountain, blanketed in ancestral memory and to embrace it with all your being. The end result of surmounting the challenges unearths a newfound humility which lends itself to greater spiritual inspiration and gratitude, as we learn from our Sages that one can only claim his inheritance of Eretz Yisrael when he has been humbled.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk wrote to his followers stating that anyone who comes to reside in the Holy Land will be challenged on many levels because the Holy Land is rich in spirituality and holiness. He wrote: “Be aware that many transformations and developments will occur within every person who comes to reside in the Holy Land.” He cautions his followers to strengthen their faith and refine themselves to the degree that they truly love the Land of Israel. He says that one must become spiritually worthy of the Land. This is the reason why one must truly be a LOVER OF HIGH PLACES in order to have a successful Aliyah. The persistence is aptly rewarded by a pristine vision of a better life in our nation with G-d in the center. The experience is exhilarating, as the pure air of a higher spiritual altitude makes one joyous and wise.

The perils in making aliyah and climbing up the mountain of challenges are nothing compared to the spiritual dangers of not making Aliyah.  Eretz Yisroel is the only place where you can dwell in the shadow of HaShem and be secure in the covering of the shelter of His wings. NO place on earth can compare with the virtues of Eretz Yisrael, nor its safety. The distinctive atmosphere of the Holy Land allows us to shed the influences of life lived outside the land. From this newly formed, higher, more receptive vantage point, we can receive the strong signals of Divine Providence and guidance present in the Land and experience a more genuine Jewish life.

I believe making Aliayh is the greatest, most courageous act of faith and trust a Jew can undertake today.  The choice forces us to assess our core values and reason for living.  It enables and empowers us to live on the level of our Jewish destiny with every endeavor. It affords us the opportunity to contribute our own unique, individual gifts like a free will offering on the holy altar. Living in our national homeland brings  honor to G-d’s name and brings our light into the world. We must strive for true allegiance to our Divine, national mission and pledge our full, personal commitment. Fulfilling the Divine will is like climbing a difficult mountain and it is a strenuous climb indeed, but it is within our ability…we can do it, if we are willing to make the supreme effort of returning home to our G-d given land.


With Blessings of love and light, Ariella Bracha


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