Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Virtual single parent olim families

I've noticed a lot more virtual single parent olim families moving into our neighbourhood recently. I haven't actually conducted a survey but after speaking to many of these incredible women, these are my impressions. The wife moves into a dira (flat) with the kids. She has to single handedly deal with the new schools, the government departments, the banks, the health insurance, the water, gas, electric and Internet/Cable companies, the language, the cultural shock, the lift(s) from abroad , the home purchases and a hundred other things. The husband is still abroad working, sending the money and flying "home" once or twice a month for a few days. It's difficult enough as a family making aliyah but these women have to cope like a one parent family making all the difficult decisons alone. What makes it worse is that when they phone their husbands to try and explain what they are going through, they are told that they are making too much of a fuss, to be strong and just get on with things and told that it is him that is actually suffering, having to live away from the family. Of course all her tension spills out onto her kids who themselves are suffering from culture shock, language and the struggle to find friends. They don't even have the security of a normal Mum and Dad family environment to support them in a strange land. Then the father flies in with his presents from the duty free becoming the hero and turning the wife into the evil one. One of the main problems is that the husband simply doesn’t go through the klita (absorption) process. Wife and husband are living seperate lives, she is gradually being absorbed into Israeli life while he remains outside. Eventually they will end up talking on different wave lengths.

Have they actually made aliyah? Do they get the scut of the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael?

I am certainly not giving a psak here but I thought that I'd bring some halachik sources quoted by Rav Yizacher Frand on his tape shiur "Mitzvah Yishuv Eretz Yisrael" that I think could be relevant to this discussion. The Ma'il Tzedaka in his Piskei Tshuva (saif Katan Vav, Even HaEzer (עה:ה) says that in order to live in Eretz Yisrael one has to be able to make a parnosa there. He said that if one is reduced to begging then one should not live there. The Avnei Neizer (The Sokachov Rav, 19th century, talmid of Rav Manachem Mendel of Kotz) in his work "Tshuva Avnei Naizer - Yoreh Daiah" chelek ב, Siman תנ"ד), in the same teshuva where he writes that the Ramba"m holds that Yishuv Eretz Yisrael is in fact a mitzvah DeOritah, asks why so many great Rabbanim prefer to remain living outside of Eretz Yisrael? He gives the same answer as the Ma'il Tzedaka gave, that is that these Rabbanim would have to rely on their chasidim in chutz la'aretz to support them in Eretz Yisrael. The ika tachles (main issue) of living in Eretz Yisrael is that one can feel the Hashkafa Pratit, the hand of Hashem. When one lives outside of Eretz Yisrael, one gets his parnosa via a malach. The Avnei Neizer then quotes Mesecta Ta'anit which describes living in Eretz Yisrael as living in the palace of the King of Kings. So in Eretz Yisrael one gets his parnasa directly from yad Hashem (the hand of G-d). He concludes that if one is going to get one's parnasa from chutz la'aretz then one has negated the whole purpose of the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael! Therefore, he paskens that one who cannot make a parnasa in Eretz Yisrael is pator from the mitzvah (exempt from the mitzvah).

The question is now, is it really true that these guys cannot find parnosa in Eretz Yisrael?

The truth is that most people can in fact find a parnosa in Eretz Yisrael today. However, making aliyah from Europe, Australia or America might mean adapting to new standards and ways of working and will almost certainly mean a lowering of income and therefore living standards. These things however do not pator one from the mitzvah! One should know that Hakodesh Baruch Hu will help you by bringing more simcha into your life which will more than compensate for the loss of material wealth. Am I being too harsh on these men who commute? Perhaps, especially in this climate of recession and job losses. Then again it's my impression that the recession has hit America and the UK far harder than Israel. Let me know what you think. What a shame ElAl didn't buy up the fleet of Concordes before thay were retired. Three hours air travel time could certainly have helped!


Anonymous said...

Don't you think you are being a bit smug seeing as you "made It"?

Reb Mordechai said...

Sorry Anonymous if I sound smug to you. I was just trying to be controversial in order to encourage some comments.

Living with Emunah and Bitachon said...

Wow! I suddenly feel so insensitive. We have been working on our own klita, and I don't think that I have been nearly sensitive enough to the plight of the my women friends who are living through this transition in this much more difficult way. Thank you for pointing this out. I resolve that I will try to reach out more (bli neder) and to be more helpful and supportive to them.

Anonymous said...

I am currently a "virtual single mom", but we hope it won't be for more than a year or two. We didn't want it to be this way, but when we weren't able to sell our home in Chicago we decided to rent it out. Since my husband had a good job we figured he'd keep it until we sold our house and paid off all our debts. We simply can't pay off American credit cards on an Israeli salary!
My husband is already an Israeli, since he lived here for 17 years (you know him, Mordechai)so he doesn't speak on "different plain". As for parnassa here. I will be happy to work as a dietitian as soon as my Israeli license comes through and I finish ulpan!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Reb Mordechai said...

I appreciate your comment. I realise I am grossly over generalising in the post.

Anonymous said...

This is certainly a complex issue. I don't think it is easy to say that these families should have stayed in chu"l, but I don't think that aliya is "davka" harder for them than for other families making aliya.
For one, financially it is much easier. I have seen several "so called single parent aliya families" and they can live comfortably here in Israel on one American salary, while my husband and I both have to work full time jobs to make ends meet (I would love to be a stay at home mom, with no outside obligations). I think this is a very big issue.
On the whole, I think aliya today is much easier than years ago – when there were no pilot trips and NBN grants, when potential olim didn't buy and furnish their homes in Israel before aliya (remember those absorption centers???).
Some of us did it the plain simple way and survived!!!

Anonymous said...

Where did you get the photo of the ElAl Concorde from - COOL!

Reb Mordechai said...

No fancy Photoshop type tools were used.

I started with a photo of an Air France Concorde. I did a Google Image search for an ElAl aircraft flying at aprox' the same angle and saved that. Then I cut and pasted the insignia onto the Concorde using MS Paint. Valla!