Real Life Stories and Experiences of Yidden Settling in Eretz Yisroel.
For Growing In Ruchniyus, There’s No Place Like Eretz Yisroel
Rabbi Yosef Younger’s story
It was fifteen years ago when I was finishing 4th year beis medrash. I had spent a wonderful 5 years in Yeshivas Ohr Hameir of Peekskill, and it was time to move on. Most bochurim were going to Eretz Yisroel, and that was my destination as well. The only thing that was out of the ordinary in my situation was that my parents and seven of my younger siblings were planning to move from Los Angeles to Eretz Yisroel at the same time! This was something they had been planning and talking about for a while; most of us did not think it would ever really happen. But as the years passed, and three older siblings were already living in EY, they decided to join them. So instead of leaving everyone behind, which is what happens with most bochurim, I actually joined my family when I came to the Brisker Kollel in Yerushalayim.
Although my year of learning in Eretz Yisroel coincided with my parents Aliyah, I was not planning to stay. I thought I would learn for one year and then go to Lakewood and settle there; that was the normal pattern. The first thing that happened that set me rethinking was the psak I received. We came to Eretz Yisroel after Pesach, and soon it would be Shavuos. I called my Rav with my predictable shaila: Do I keep one day or two? He told me that since my family was in Eretz Yisroel, I should keep one day. I was surprised and explained again that I was most likely heading back to the USA, but he repeated, your family is there, keep one day. It is said that a Talmid Chochom is better than a Navi, he was right. Although I did not think I was going to stay here, I did.
When an excellent shidduch was redt, an American Israeli girl from a wonderful home, although I was interested I had to be honest. I told them I was not committing to staying here at all, if I need to go back to the USA, I will. They accepted this condition, as they already had two sons living there. Being under no pressure, I married and began Israeli Kollel life. I very much appreciated the Torah and kedusha here; B”H, my learning went well, my wife ran a successful gan program and our family grew. Transportation, shopping and other such minor adjustments didn’t bother me; I found them quite doable, challenging in an entertaining way.
The longer we lived here, the less interest I had in leaving. Certainly, the fact that my parents, in-laws and most of our siblings (I also have 2 in America) were here made it most pleasant and helpful. I also knew that if I moved to the USA, there would be a lot adjustment for my children, and they were doing well here in school. And most importantly, I was not attracted to the ‘American Dream’.
Overall, I did not have any big adjustments, although even until today not sure how to do homework with my children. Math in Hebrew? I was actually quite good in math, but the Hebrew terms and the system in general, I don’t get.
After learning in kollel for 13 years, I saw I was among the oldest there – I was outgrowing that environment and wanted to do more. I was very fortunate to get a position as a Shoel Meishiv in Imrei Binah in Har Nof, initially half a day, then after a year a full day. It’s a wonderful place to learn and teach, guiding American bochurim. Recently as there was a need for greater parnassah I found my place in writing/translating/transcribing. With a computer – no internet access needed – an American can find such work here, locally and from chutz laaretz. There are many jobs available; of course the ability to be able to work in English is a big plus.
An interesting conversation I once had on the bus sums up my feelings. I was reviewing the Parsha while traveling, and the fellow sitting near me, without a head covering, asked if I could learn with him. I happily obliged, but soon enough we were shmoozing; really he wanted to talk. He was quite shocked to hear that I had chosen to move here from Los Angeles. That’s where he and his chevra are dying to go! I easily explained my hashkafa to him – LA is great for pursuing materialism, but for growing in Ruchniyus, there’s no place like Eretz Yisroel!
This article is part of our Haaretz Hatovah series featuring Yidden living in, settling, and building up Eretz Yisroel. For more info please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit naavakodesh.org/haaretz-hatovah