Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Four Sons - The Four Stages of Aliyah

After a bit of a hiatus....here are my latest thoughts...
A friend of mine organised a seder for young professionals in Tel Aviv, it was a great experience and at the seder I gave a drasha on the four sons and how they relate to four stages of Aliyah.
I thought I would put it here, because I liked it, and I think that anyone that is trawling the internet for ALiyah stuff might come across it...The story of Pesach is essentially a story of immigration and perhaps the first Aliyah (not including Abraham) it as appropriate at this time to reflect upon Aliyah and it's processes.

Next week will be my 5 year Aliyah anniversary, I was very adament at the time to make Aliyah before Pesach much to the chagrin of my mother, who wanted me to stay with the family for the festival, it just didn't make sense to me at the time if I had the chance to be in Israel for Pesach, why wouldn't I? 5 years on I realise how important and limited time with family can be, and I am thankful for any time I have with them, but I am still equally lucky to be here in Israel today.

The Wise Son - Preparation:
The wise son is inquisitive, he wants to know about the way that the traditions are observed and he asks questions. The first stage of Aliyah is Preparation, before you leave, you ask a lot of questions...What's it like in Israel? What will I do there? Where will I go? You might come and visit to check things out, the preparation process involves a lot of asking people a lot of questions to find out how you can make Israel work for you.

The Wicked Son - Separation:
The wicked son separates himself and asks What does all this mean to you? By the same token there is a definite process of separation from friends and family which is experienced when you make Aliyah whereby a lot of your ideology is challenged as people ask you Why are you making Aliyah? What does it mean to you? This is a process whereby people are trying to relate to you, and understand the decision that you have made, the very core of their question though, insinuates that this is your decision and not theirs. A separation must occur on some level between what and who you are leaving behind whether it be superficial by just getting on a plane or a deeper severing of ties. What does this mean to you? Is symbolic of the explanation that your community immediate and further afield needs in order to understand the separation that is going to take place.

The Simple Son - Re-orientation:
Upon arrival there is a very overwhelming state whereby you rush around to a million differnet places and offices sorting out beaurocracy and so forth, health insurance, identity cards, Ulpan and what not. During this time, you are almost unable to think for yourself, and you often just find the simplest of things complicated and you need to continually ask...What is this? How do I do this? From catching a bus to changing over your drivers license, you need to ask simple questions otherwise you can land up catching the bus to the middle of nowhere and be stuck in line waiting for the bank to open when it's closed anyway.

The Son who is unable to ask - Absorption:
Once the paperwork is all sorted out, you have a place to live, and you can breathe a bit. Slowly slowly, you may find yourslef taking a step back in order to figure out where it is that you fit in. You find yourself observing what other people do, where they go shopping, what they are wearing, what they are eating, and by doing that you find your own way. Observing the customs of the new and different environment that you find yourself plunged into, is a key part in order to find where you yourself fit in. Some people feel the need to force themselves to be a part of everything, and give themselves deadlines and unnecessary external pressure to fit in...but finding yourself is a process...best achieved by looking at all the options, trying things on for size, and seeing what suits you best!

All these stages, Preparation, Separation, Re-orientation and Absorption, have no fit time schedule. They are processes and each need to be done in their own time. The essential message though, above all, is that unless you ask, you are never going to get anywhere, these principles are not acheived by themselves...any help that you can get along the way is worthwhile and don't be afraid to ask, because this is the way of the world, if you want to move forward we have learned as a people to ask, to accept help where it comes and make the most of opportunities that present themselves...

There is an unshakeable feeling that I get of late, when I sit down at a meal with friends on Shabbat and Chagim....how lucky we are, to have each other to share with, how much more meaningful it is to be in a community whereby a collective acknowledges one another...how lucky I am to be here at this moment in time...free...and this is not something which is independant. Freedom is a collective achievement attributed to family, friends and community, who ask, who share, who lean on each other, who give and take and that's the way the world goes round.

2 Comments:

Blogger Andrew said...

Nice Shiur Gila!
Good to see you blogging again.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Rachael (australdi) said...

Thank you for such an insightful and poignant drasha Gila. I have just returned to Australia, having spent my first pesach in Jerusalaem. I found your thoughts inspiring and personally relevant.
toda raba

9:53 AM  

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