Aliyah & Rosh HaShana: Their Commonalities and Connectors
By Ariella Bracha Waldinger
Every change in perspective creates a new beginning just as every new beginning creates a change of perspective. I love new beginnings and the feeling of a new start. I also appreciate and value a change in perspective, as new and relevant information is presented to me by learned Rabbis and scholars. It awakens a sense of discovery and brings a feeling of vitality in its wake. I believe the excitement and pleasure it engenders stems from a deep place of longing for wholeness and spiritual depth. At the same time, I believe every fear that arises as a result of change, also has at its source a longing for wholeness and spiritual depth.
Both aliyah and Rosh HaShana share the commonalities of new perspectives and are truly new beginnings at their finest. The Ba’al Shem Tov, in preparation for Rosh HaShana said, “Pray like a pauper…… suspend all your sophistication, literacy, and intelligence. Stand vulnerable, with no layers, with your essence exposed before G-d‘s essence. Stand innocent like a child. Then you will reach and see G-d’s face….G-ds essence.”
This is the exact description of the stance we should take and the awareness we should acquire upon returning home to Eretz Yisrael. Most of us making aliyah arrive after a long separation in the land of our exiles. Upon coming home, many Jews feel as if they have no sophistication, no intelligence and feel lost and vulnerable with our ignorance and helplessness exposed. Some feel as if they have lost their personal identity and it feels crushing. We lose ourselves in the emotions without a clear understanding of the journey we have embarked upon. And yet, if we can stand innocent like a child with our true essence exposed, ready to receive all the goodness and blessings coming home to the Holiest place has to offer, we will see G-ds essence and He will guide us as His beloved children.
Just as we need to learn and understand the process of preparation for Rosh HaShana, we also need to understand its deep connection to the aliyah process of settling into the land. Similar to the month of Elul directing us inward for the purpose of Teshuva (returning to our true selves) and change, aliyah directs us to look inward to uncover our true selves that have often times been lost in the lands of our dispersion. Rosh HaShana and aliyah impart the need for change and change ultimately breaks things wide open.
Regarding the process called teshuva (returning to our true soulful selves), Rabbi Simon Jacobson says, “Teshuva infuses all our activities with vitality and a deeper sense of our own essence. Teshuva polishes and refines all our activities and makes them sparkle with the fire of the recesses of our soul reaching upward, returning to its source.” It is both a cleansing and healing process and has the ability to restore us to a sense of inner wholeness and G-dly harmony with life.
The same is true of aliyah, as it moves us into the aspect of total integration with the Jewish nation on all levels. It gives us the opportunity to infuse all our activities in the acclimation process with vitality and a deeper sense of our essence. A Jew living in the land can make his mitzvot sparkle with the fire of deep connection in the Holy Land of the Jewish nation. The prophet Ezekiel states,” I will gather you out of all the countries. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean. From all your uncleanness and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” (EZ.36:24-25) This cleansing creates an amazing feeling of inner wholeness and G-dly harmony which is likened to teshuva.
In this week’s Torah portion of Nitzavim, relating to the ingathering of the exiles (Dev. 30:3-5), Rabbi Moshe D. Lichtman in his commentary teaches that Rashi explains that when the Jewish people go into exile, G-d accompanies them and suffers with them and when they return to their land, G-d returns with them. The Rav explains that just as aliyah is good for the Jew on a personal and national level, it is also good for G-d. Not only does a Jew returning to his homeland bring back G-d, he brings back the Shechinah as well (Eretz Yisrael in the Parashah by Moshe D. Lichtman).The same Divine truth relates to teshuva and Rosh HaShana.
Elul and Rosh HaShanah are a compelling time frame of divine energy which allows accessibility to the inner realm of the soul. They allow for a powerful individuation process which initiates one into a truer and deeper state of being. And yes, aliyah is the same process.
Teshuva and aliyah are both fraught with advances and setbacks, successes and failures. Just as we would not reject doing teshuva during Rosh HaShana, we should not reject the possibility of making aliyah, nor the challenges that go along with it.
Our ultimate aim as Jews is to fulfill the Divine mission we were charged with. As we traverse the path of returning to our true selves and returning to our homeland, we arrive at a more mature and conscious awareness of our true reality as an integral part of the Jewish nation. Ultimately we will discover that we have the ability to evolve and create a deep conscious connection to God, ourselves and our nation.
In truth, our life choices must reflect the vision of our higher selves which we long for. Each of us must choose to become the master of his soul journey, as we strive to steer our souls into an expansive, uplifting and soulful life, serving G-d and our nation with all of our gifts and talents.
May we embrace all our new beginnings and new perspectives revealed through the deep teachings and experiences embedded in both Rosh HaShana and aliyah and may we understand, THESE ARE NEW BEGINNINGS AT THEIR FINEST!
May all new immigrants truly acquire the understanding of the great Blessings they have brought into the world through making aliyah. May you allow nothing to stand in the way of your successful aliyah knowing you are in the Land G-d personally has His eyes on every single day. May you personally feel the privilege of serving THE KING OF KINGS IN HIS PALACE….ERETZ YISRAEL.
To all of Klal Yisrael: May this year be endowed with the deepest clarity of G-dly purpose, joyous experiences and meaningful relationships along with health and well being. When the shofar sounds, may it usher in a good, sweet year granting you fulfillment of all your personal and spiritual needs.
La Shana Tova! And Kesiva V’Chatima Tova!
With Love and Blessings, Ariella Bracha
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