Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To My Mitzvah Observant Sisters Living Outside the Land of Israel

Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat Shuva are behind us. We’ve made contact with those sick relatives we were worried about, put our homes back together, restocked our kitchens, maybe caught up with our back pile at work, and have begun thinking about Yom Kippur preparations. After that, if all’s well, it’s on to planning for Sukkot.

You’ll be having a review of everything we did before the three-day Rosh Hashanah marathon. There are menus to plan for three days, food to order or cook, and laundry to finish so there’ll be enough children’s clothes to last through Saturday night. You’ll be concerned if there’ll be enough fruit and treats to snack on. You’ll wonder if you prepared an adequate amount of toilet paper. Did you buy sufficient Kleenex, baby wipes, and diapers? Is there really plenty of food?  What’s your boss going to say about yet another two days off now and again the following week?

At this point my life differs from yours. Although I did a tremendous amount of organizing before the three-day Rosh Hashanah began, it’s now behind me. Thursday evening of Sukkot, instead of beginning a second day holiday, I’ll be in the Chol Hamoed mode. Whereas you’ll be hurriedly heating up a Yom Tov meal, I’ll be listening to music on the computer and popping popcorn in my electric air popper to eat in the sukkah while I talk to my friend on the phone. 

I’ll have no missed work to make up because I automatically had a day off for the holiday. Friday morning I can decide whether there are enough leftovers from Yom Tov for Shabbat or if I need to do some more cooking. Undoubtedly, someone will be sent to the supermarket to stock up on supplies. I’ll take a good, hot shower without any Yom Tov complications and enter Shabbat fresh.

There are many, many spiritual benefits to living in Israel but, contrary to popular belief, there are a number of practical ones. Compare medical costs here to those in America. Don’t believe that our health system is inferior. Although there are those who travel abroad for surgery, they do so because the top expert in the needed field isn’t here in Israel. However, there are those who come from America to get health care here because their particular expert is living in the Holy Land. 

It would be prudent to compare the cost of day school education to tuition for any private school here in Israel. The difference is surprising. Yes, salaries are less here but so is the cost of living.

For anyone who has had a teenager turn sixteen and immediately receive his driver’s license there is another excellent reason to move to Israel. The age here to begin learning to drive is only seventeen. That’s a whole year plus of not having to worry about one’s child behind the wheel.

There are so many practical reasons to move to Israel. Chol Hamoed Sukkot is the time when those of us who were blessed to be able to live here understand them the most.  For you, my sisters living outside the land of Israel, I bless you with the ability to perceive this. May this be the year that you comprehend the tremendous privilege that you could have living here. May this be the year that you do, indeed, come home.  May all of us, whether here or there, be sealed in the Book of Life.

Chol Hamoed : Intermediate days of the holiday

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