People think that their happiness is dependant on outside stimuli. That's a big misconception. Happiness comes from within. First, you have to be happy with yourself, as you'll see in the 2-minute clip that follows:
I really want to make Aliya with my family, but people have been telling me that if I don't have a half million US bucks, I won't be able to get a decent apartment. I don't want a mortgage, and with property values in my area, I'll barely clear $200,000 when I sell my home. What can I possibly buy in Israel with that amount of money? Thanks for your time and attention, Gerald from Midwest USA
if you're looking for a flat with in an American neighborhood of Ramat Bet Shemesh or Jerusalem's Ramat Eshkol or Har Nof, $500,000 is roughly what you'll pay. But, if you're willing to both live and think outside the Anglo-Israeli box, then you'll have some wonderful opportunities, where $200,000 or less will suffice.
Gorgeous places up north with growing observant communities are Maalot, Nazareth Illit, Tzefat and Kiriat Shemona.
As far as the south of Israel goes, Arad has the cleanest air in the world and it's also gorgeous. For $200,000 or less in Ashkelon, you can get an apartment in walking distance to the Mediterranean. If you go to a place like Ofakim or Yerucham, you can get a palace for $150,000 or less.
Contact my dear friends at Nefesh B'Nefesh, because there are usually several incentive programs for moving to the Galilee up north or to the Negev down south. Both are wonderful places to raise your family. Remember also that education here is virtually free, but you'll have to a bit of legwork to find the right schools for your children. It's well worth it. The younger they are, the easier they'll adapt. May Hashem help you succeed! Blessings always, LB
Teshuva is an amazing mitzvah. Many people find difficulty in believing that it’s for real. Many an email asks me, “Does Hashem really forgive me for what I did?” The simple, categorical and indisputable answer is a resounding and emphatic yes! It doesn’t matter what you did or how serious the Torah regards the transgression. Not only does Hashem forgive, but He loves us and trusts us enough to always give us a new beginning. You know what that means? Stop wringing your hands about past mistakes!
Image 1, above: Praying by the holy gravesite of Rebbe Natan Sternhartz, 1780-1845, known as "Rebbe Natan (Nosson in Yiddish) of Breslev", Rebbe Nachman's prime disciple, who wrote down all of Rebbe Nachman's teachings. Today, 10 Teveth, is his "yahrtzeit", the anniversary of his passing from the physical world. The gravesite is located in Breslev, Ukraine.
When you willfully put someone else's desires before your own, then you love that person. And, when you cherish a person so much that his or her desire is your desire, then not only do you love that person but your connection with him or her is unshakable.
If your own desires are dearer to you than your spouse's desires, for example, then you love yourself more than you love your spouse. The entire Hollywood notion of love is nothing other than selfishness and self-indulgence. People are out to take rather than give. A taker is never a lover, much less a true lover. How many people lie to others and say, "I love you", simply because they're trying to take something? Millions are - the vast majority of modern society.
We can apply all of the above to our relationship with The Creator. When we place His desires before our own, we really love Him. When we induldge in ourselves while ignoring what He really wants from us, there's no love and no relationship.
When we ponder the zillion blessings that Hashem does for us every day, it's really embarrassing to think how we're lax in doing what He wants us to do, whether it's refraining from gossip, dressing modestly or making Aliya. At least, let's be honest with ourselves. The way to build a relationship with someone is to begin talking to him/her. The same too applies with Hashem. The more you get to know Him, the more you'll love Him. And wait and see how He answers you. Just be open and honest; even if we're not yet doing His will 100%, Hashem loves when his children speak to Him openly and honestly. Nothing is so beneficial to the soul as a daily hour of personal prayer. Try it - you'll love it.
Shabbat Chanuka reminds me of my great grandfather, who died some 26 years before I was born.
My maternal great grandfather, Reb Yankev ("The Blacksmith") Podrub from Grodno, Belarus (formerly Poland) was a legendary figure in the annals of Stolin-Karlin Chassidus. He arms were like twisted steel, but his disposition was extremely gentle. Although he was a blacksmith. he was also a Talmudic scholar. He worked so that his little brother, Arie Leib, could attend rabbinical yeshiva. Ultimately, Arie Leib became the head rabbi of Meretch in Lithuania and one of the prime students of Rav Chaim Ozer Grudzinski, ob"m.
The renowned "Yanuka" of Stolin, the famous Rebbe Yisroel Perlov ob'm who had over 20,000 Chassidim, would stay in Reb Yankev's house every Shabbat Chanuka when he'd visit his chassidim in Grodno. Even more, The Stoliner Rebbe - who loved horses - insisted that only Reb Yankev shoe his horses. From what the old Stoliner Chassidim told me, the Rebbe loved my great-grandfather's pure and simple emuna and the innocence in which he served Hashem.
What was so special about Reb Yankev? He never spoke small talk. Even at work, he'd mumble tehillim and mishnayot. Also, his trust in Hashem was phenominal - he'd only work long enough to earn that same day's bread with one extra kopeck; he saved the extra kopecks in a jar all year long, and then at the end of the year, he'd use the money to travel to his Rebbe in Stolin for Rosh Hashanna. As such, my great grandfather lived his connection with the tzaddik all year long.
The minute Reb Yankev finished his day's work, he'd fly up the stairs to the Stoliner shtiebel, conveniently located on the second floor over the smithy, and open up a Gemara. Grodno lore holds him as one of the hidden tzaddikim of the area, may his blessed memory be cherished always.
I heard the above stories and many more from my grandmother Kailie of blessed memory, from Rav Yitzchak Kulitz of blessed memory, former head Rabbi of Jerusalem, who as a little boy saw my great grandfather, and from Rav Benyamin Adler shlit'a of Jerusalem, whose uncle knew my great grandfather well, and from the elderly Stolin-Karlin chassidim of Jerusalem.
Trying to emulate my great grandfather, I set aside twenty dollars every week and put them in a special envelope marked, "Uman - Rosh Hashanna." That way, I live Rosh Hashanna with my beloved Rebbe, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, all year long.
I know that alte zaidie (Yiddish for great grandfather) has nachas (gratification) that his great granchildren are continuing on in the way of Torah and Chassidus. You know what that means? The Greeks and the Hellenists lost, and so did Hitler and western assimilation. With simple emuna, we shall continue to overcome, with G-d's help. Have a wonderful Shabbat Chanuka and new month of Teveth!