Volume 31 Number 65
                 Produced: Sun Feb 20  8:24:26 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aliya and Kiruv
         [Carl M. Sherer]
Aliyah (2)
         [Joseph Geretz, Bill Bernstein]
All of Eretz Yisrael qualifies for Aliya
         [Joseph Geretz]


From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 19:25:15 +0200
Subject: Aliya and Kiruv

Eric Simon writes:

> It has to be somebody, no?  In fact, give the millions of non-observant
> Jews in America, it has to be more than a few, don't you think?

Yes, it has to be more than a few. However, I question whether anyone
who is not doing kiruv work full time is capable of having a sufficient
impact to justify their passing up the mitzva of living in Israel, and
the many mitzvos that go with living in Israel, to stay in America and
do kiruv work. Someone later in the same digest mentions Rabbi
Riskin. With all the people he started on the path to tshuva living in
America's largest Jewish community, do you think that Rabbi Riskin would
not have been justified in staying in the US? Why don't you ask him why
he left?

> >I would only add to that, IMHO, *unless* you are full time in kiruv work
> >like the Chabad shaliach, the fact that a Chabad shaliach is in Alaska
> >or Kazakhstan or Uruguay or anyplace else is no *halachic* justification
> >for *you* to remain in galus (exile).
> I still don't understand it.  Are you saying that _only_ a Chabad
> shaliach has halachic justification for staying in galus?  

No. I am saying that in order for one to use one's kiruv work as
halachic justification for staying in galus it should be a full (or at
least a substantial part) time occupation.

> Is _every_ observant Jew in America acting contrary to halacha?  

Let's just say that a substantial percentage of the religious Jews in
America are ignoring the halacha (as "shev v'al taaseh" (sit still and
do not do it) as opposed to actively contravening halacha), and are
feeling uncomfortable when the issue is raised. That discomfort is
reflected in many of the "justifications" for staying in America that we
have seen raised on this list over the past couple of weeks (and which
have been spouted to me in private emails), most of which have little or
no halachik justification. The phrase "grasping at straws" comes to

> Is every bochur in Lakewood and Ner Israel being told by their rebbes
> to get up and leave for Israel, for good?

That's not the question. The question is whether every bochur in
Lakewood and Ner Yisroel SHOULD be told by his rebbe to get up and leave
for Israel, for good. I submit, that unless each of those bochrim is
going to have some massive impact on Klal Yisroel by staying in America
that he could not have in Israel, he should probably be told to move,
especially if he is young enough not to have family obligations.

I also submit that *at the very least* every fruhm Jew who is staying in
America should be making a cheshbon hanefesh (soul searching) as to why
s/he feels that s/he is incapable of fulfilling a long list of mitzvos
at this time, despite the fact that Israel is a accessible by safe air
travel, has parnassa (means of support) for most of its population, has
all of the amenities of modern life, has abundant yeshivos and
seminaries, and has many eligible potential mates.

> Every time a family turns frum they should up and leave for Eretz
> Yisroel?  If that's the case, will they _ever_ get a minyan?  

When I came on my pilot trip (to look for a job in Israel) in 1991,
there were several families from a small community in the Southwestern
US who were on the trip. They spent a big part of the pilot trip running
from gadol to gadol asking a shaila. The shaila was most immediate -
there were exactly ten Jewish families in their small community, and
there was no other community within a hundred miles (probably more - I
don't recall the exact number). If they left the community and made
aliya, the community would fall apart and everyone else would have to
move elsewhere or no longer have a minyan. What do you think the answer
was? I'll give you a hint: two of those families made aliya that summer.

> Tomorrow night, G-d willing,
> about 30 non-observant Jews will be coming over to my house for a
> shabbos dinner and torah discussion (being a former leader in the Reform
> movement, I have an "in" to many non-observant Jews!).  These are _not_
> folks who would accept an invitation of a Chabad rabbi.  Two nights ago,
> I had about 20 over to my home (all of them non-observant) to hear a
> shiur by the Rosh Yeshiva of a local Yeshiva High School.  (OK, this
> wasn't exactly a typical week, but it _is_ something that my wife and I
> do on a very consistent basis).

There's a place in the Old City of Yerushalayim called Heritage
House. It's run by a couple of tzadikim named Rabbi Meir Schuster and
Jeff Seidel. If you have ever seen them, you probably saw them coming up
to people at the Kotel asking if they are Jewish and whether they have a
place for Shabbos. Back in the days when I lived much closer to the
Kotel, I used to have Shabbos guests over through them on a regular
basis. So did many of my fruhm from birth, charedi neighbors. I guess
you can have an impact on not-yet- fruhm people even if you are fruhm
from birth yourself. IMHO the fact that they were in Eretz Yisrael, and
wanted the experience of a Shabbos in a religious home as part of their
"Israel experience," made those people much more receptive than they
might have been to spending a Shabbos in Fairfax, Virginia. I personally
know several people who became fruhm as a result of a Shabbos spent at
Heritage House or a couple of days spent in a program run by Aish
HaTorah called Discovery, to which Heritage House often sends
people. I'd like to tell you a true story about one of those people.

One Friday night, there was a young man at my table who started telling
us his "story." It seems that he grew up in Northern California, had
decided to become a Jesuit Priest(!) and came to Israel because he
wanted to see it before he started his studies for the priesthood. He
had relatives in Yerushalayim, and they convinced him to go on
Discovery. While he was at Discovery, he landed at my Shabbos table. He
said that Discovery had changed his whole perception of Judaism, and he
wondered whether he would ever go back to the Jesuits. Then he told me,
"I was always a funny guy. On my application to Stanford, I wrote that
the two people who influenced me the most were Father X and Rabbi Y." I
looked at him in shock: "Rabbi Y? Rabbi Yaakov Y?" I asked.  "Yes, Rabbi
Yaakov Y." "Where did you say you were from?" I asked him. He named a
town in Northern California. It turned out that Rabbi Yaakov Y is an old
and dear friend of mine who used to be the Rav in that town. I met the
boy a few months later in the bus terminal. He was learning in Yeshiva,
and had become completely fruhm.

I am not a full time kiruv person. I never have been (my NCSY days
notwithstanding). Do you think you would not have the same opportunities
for kiruv here that you have in Fairfax, Virginia? If anything, you
would have more opportunities, but your children would be growing up in
a Jewish environment.

> I feel a calling . . . to help to teach non-observant Jews, and to show
> them the wisdom of Torah and the beauty of observant life.  

Nothing you could not do in Israel.

> No, I'm not a professional at this (although if someone would pay me
> to do what I do in this area, I would be most greatful!) -- but I'm
> not sure how that is relevant.

But would you give up your current job if someone paid you to do
it? If not, I don't see how you justify giving up all the mitzvos you 
are giving up by staying in galus.

> "kol yisroel arevim zeh b'zeh", all of yisroel is responsible for one
> another.  I take that very seriously.

We all do. But our first responsibility is to those close to us (aniyei
ircha kodmim - the poor of your city come first), to make sure that our
children are raised in an environment of Torah, in an environment of
kdusha (holiness).

I know several Rabbonim who took shuls in small towns across the US that
had no Jewish community. Almost inevitably, they left when their
children reached school age. Ask yourself why. To me the answer seems

I would suggest that you ask a Rav whether he thinks that your kiruv
work is sufficient justification to stay where you are. I would not ask
the question as "should I move to Israel?" Many American rabbonim have a
hard time with that one, for whatever reason. Ask him if he thinks you
should move to Baltimore or Washington so that your children will grow
up in a more Jewish environment. And if he says, yes, then ask yourself
why you should move to Baltimore or Washington and not to Israel. Once
you do that, you'll be on your way to that cheshbon hanefesh I was
thinking about.

Carl M. Sherer
mailto:<cmsherer@...> or mailto:sherer@actcom.co.il
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son, Baruch Yosef ben
Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  Thank you very much.


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 21:01:11 -0500
Subject: Aliyah

I wrote;
> Citing the Balfour Declaration [as the previous poster did] as carte
> blanche permission for our return ignores the fact that the multitude
> of Arab nations are adamantly opposed to our return.

Carl Sherer responded:
> I don't think the fact that someone somewhere is opposed means that
> once we are here already, we are obliged to do the bidding of either
> our Arab neighbors or the United States.

I think you're ducking my point. If you posit the fact the the Balfour
Declaration is permission of the nations (as the previous poster did),
then you can hardly pass off the objections of practically every Arab
country in the region as 'someone somewhere is opposed'. Moreover,
although I certainly agree with you, in regards to those who are in
Israel already, this thread is specifically discussing the proper course
of action for those who are currently in the Diaspora.

Now again, to clear the record, please don't attempt to extrapolate from
this, my own opinion on Aliya. It's just that this particular argument
in favor, doesn't ring true for me.

Kol Tuv,

Joseph Geretz (<jgeretz@...>)
Focal Point Solutions, Inc. (www.FPSNow.com)

From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 11:56:33 -0600
Subject: Aliyah

 I have been somewhat unhappy with the tone of many of the posts of
people who are supporting making aliyah, and these echo sentiments I
have heard and seen elsewhere.  There seems to be this idea that all of
us living in America (or where-ever) are just too darn selfish and
materialistic to make aliya.  Our biggest nisayon (test) is pizza or
Chinese.  With the exception of those doing the Lord's work in kiruv, we
are all oiver (transgressing) on Torah mitzvas and maamarei Chazal
(rabbinic statements).
 I humbly disagree.  Most of Jewish life has taken place outside of
Israel.  Most seforim (including the Chumash) were written outside of
Israel.  Remaining in chutz has a long history and was (and remains) the
choice for many many gedolim and tzaddikim.  One does not need a heter
to remain here, one need not be a Reb Moshe zt'l.
 Whoever suggested that only kiruv professionals have a right to stay
here should get the Yeltsin Medal for Sentience.  All of us working
stiffs are kiruv professionals (including and especially the moderator
of this list) because kiruv is not just for the guy mowing his lawn on
Saturday, but for the guy sitting next to me in shul.  Kehillas are the
basis of an active Jewish life and without people working, pay shul
dues, paying limud schar (tuition), attending shiurim etc there would be
no Jewish life.  Without Joseph Gruss a'h Reb Moshe would probably be
remembered as the most pious and learned slaughter-house mashgiach in
this century.  Open any sefer published in the last 15 years and look at
the list of supporters and contributors: the sefer would never have been
published without these baaleibatim.
 Further, there are very real objections to making aliya.  For those who
overcome them, great.  Somebody mentioned jobs: if jobs in Israel were
plentiful and/or well-paying then New York would be short about 3500 cab
drivers.  The people that I know who have made aliya have found jobs,
but not without extensive re-training and difficulty.
 Politically there are considerations.  I don't have to worry that the
government here will give part of the capital over to my sworn enemies.
(I do have to worry that they will give all of it to Jesse Jackson.)  I
don't wake up in the morning wondering whether Canadian artillery will
take up positions overlooking my house.  
 There have probably been more swastikas painted on shuls in Israel in 3
years than in America in 20.  There is a propensity for violence that is
frightening.  A Goldstein or Amir is unthinkable in Orthodox America.
Events tomorrow could moot all this, but somehow I don't think so.
 In all, I sometimes hear this attitude from those who have made aliya
that sounds like the reformed drunk in the beer hall.  It's wrong.
Aliya is an option, a good one often, but it's not a solution to every
problem.  The solution will only be with the coming of Moshiach,


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 21:18:44 -0500
Subject: All of Eretz Yisrael qualifies for Aliya

In another thread, 'All Can Compel Ascension', Sheri & Seth Kadish wrote:
> If I may be provocative, I suggest the following: Religious Jews
> who make aliya today overwhelmingly settle in or near Yerushalayim.
> Those who don't tend to settle in all-religious communities or in places
> where religious life thrives.  But for the public good, don't we also
> need these very same people in other places?

I absolutely agree. This Shabbos, we were talking about Aliya. One of
the fellows asked 'where do you think I'd be comfortable'. Everyone
started proposing Arzei HaBira, Sanhedria, Har Nof, etc. (These are all
neighborhoods in Jerusalem.) Everyone just looked at me when I said,
I've always thought Tzfas (Safed) or T'veria (Tiberias) would be nice. I
said, excuse me, the Torah says, three times a year, one is obligated to
visit Jerusalem. Furthermore, we're not city dwellers (we live in
Monsey). So why is it that automatically, when thinking of Aliya, the
only place to consider, is Jerusalem? The entire land of Israel
(whatever maps to Eretz Yisrael that is) is holy!

Now I'm not proposing that religious people forsake the ideal of
settling in a religious community. But there are many religious
communities across the entire country. If one proposes to undertake
Aliya, is there any increased merit to setle in Jerusalem as opposed to
any other part of the country?

Kol Tuv,

Joseph Geretz (<jgeretz@...>)
Focal Point Solutions, Inc. (www.FPSNow.com)


End of Volume 31 Issue 65