January 27, 2008

The Israeli Perspective of Americans

Filed under: Current Events — Reb Moshe @ 1:47 am

I have lived here in Israel for 5 years now and people still see me as a spoiled American. It is a title you simply can’t get rid of very quickly. Maybe it is because they are correct. Most Americans I know living in Israel, still try to live a bit more of an elite lifestyle. Usually though, after a few years in Israel, reality sets in and the American usually becomes poorer then their Israeli friends because they don’t know how to live such a simple life.

Then there is their general opinion of Americans abroad. They think, “These people are totally rich and spoiled through and through. Living in their large houses and fancy cars without violence around them. Who are these people to give their opinion on the future of Israel and the people here? What do they know? They have never lived a difficult day in their life”. This is the general opinion of Americans here.

If you understood how really, simply life is in Israel, you would understand that their opinion is not so far fetched. For instance, the Israeli bathroom stall is so small that when you go in, you almost fall head first into the water when closing the door. Most people don’t have light fixtures as, why bother when you can just screw a bulb into a plain socket. I have never seen wall to wall carpeting here. In fact, I can’t think of anyone but my family that even owns a rug. The average car engine is 1.6 liter and there are few suv’s. So I think we can pretty much say, “Israelis are not after living in comfort or style”.

When it comes to Rebbes and Rabbis, if you mention famous American Rosh HaYeshivas to an Israeli Kollel, Yeshiva man, he will have heard of few of them. This is a country that just had the Gadal Hador, Rav Shach in their midst’s. The greatest minds in the world are here living in Israel. Why would we seek the opinion of those outside the holy land? I am not saying this is true but rather showing you the mindset of most Israelis. It is quite understandable considering the total dedication and daily self-sacrifice it takes to live here. The Rabbi’s living in Israel are also very strict in their opinions of halacha.

So finally, when it comes to the future of land for peace and other issues, the first thought of the Israeli is, let us figure it out. We are the ones living here and struggling while you live in your fancy houses.

Unfortunately, Americans are fighting back. People are giving less and less charity to the holy land. Yeshivas and institutions have been closing down for years. Recently in newspapers, you see articles of fellow Jews being upset at the vast number of Israeli’s collecting charity in their neighborhoods. Many Americans don’t want to support Israel anymore.

The fact is that the Israeli’s don’t realize that Americans struggle also in their own way. Americans on the other hand do not realize the true appreciation they should have for Israelis and the importance of supporting them with oversees Jobs and charity. Every Synagogue in the USA has a responsibility to have a charity fund that they send to Israeli institutions and poor. More and more families are struggling for basic necessities people in other countries take for granted. Sitting in my room with stone walls and a one room heater, I gota take the Israeli side. You just arent spoiled living in Israel with anything but Kedusha, holiness. It is simply a harder life and a more fruitful one. This is why the Zohar says, “A person living in Israel is reincarnated 40 years before those abroad.” Because they are volentarily taking on suffering on behalf of the Jewish people.

(This is not a discusion on zionism. In no way do I consider any of the above a zionistic approach. I do not believe everyone should live in Israel. I am simply staiting the facts of life in the holy land)

Tzfat Poor Donations


  1. I humbly disagree.

    I think that we (Jews abroad) have a greater responsibility to our own community. There are so many Jews HERE that are lacking, so many yidden with insufficient education. It can be seen as an injustice to give away donations to far away places when our brothers are lacking right before our eyes.

    We should donate to Yeshivos HERE.

    It is nice to support yishivos abroad, but it would be an injustice. For every dollar to an abroad yeshiva, two dollars should go to a yeshiva here.

    Comment by Asa Yitzchak — January 27, 2008 @ 3:55 am

  2. many children here don’t own coats. many yeshivos here don’t have heat or air conditioning.

    Comment by Reb Moshe — January 27, 2008 @ 5:10 am

  3. That may be true, but do you see my position?

    It is also the responsibility of Jews everywhere to take care of each other. Israeli Jews should support their fellow Jews.

    Comment by Asa Yitzchak — January 27, 2008 @ 6:21 am

  4. Chazal have said in the Talmud and many places that we must always help those in Israel first. It is only in recent times, people started to think their own communities took precedence. You know the Government stopped funding most religious schools. Have you ever walked into a cheder, children’s school in Israel and saw how many repairs were needed? Taxes in Israel are already at 18%. You want them to raise it to 30% so we can help ourselves? At the average of $4 a hour before taxes, how much charity do you think an israeli has to give to his fellow? Did you know since the dollar has weekend, everyones mortgage and rent went up $150 a month? Did you know most Kollel’s in Israel pay about $100-250 a month since there is no government support or support from abroad? Did you know Israelis are only allowed 1 mortgage and can’t refinance their home? Did you know we pay twice your outrageous gas prices?

    Comment by Reb Moshe — January 27, 2008 @ 10:32 am

  5. the domino or ripple effect. one effects the other and vice versa.

    Comment by Kara — January 27, 2008 @ 3:35 pm

  6. The Talmud in Tannis says that all blessing first comes to Israel and then to the rest of the world. The ripple has to start here.

    Comment by Reb Moshe — January 27, 2008 @ 3:45 pm

  7. Avot d’Rabbi N. (33:4) teaches: “If a person gives his friend all the gifts in the world with a sour face, he has given him nothing. But one who receives his friend with a cheerful face, even if he has given him nothing else, has given him the greatest gift in the world.” Talmud – Avot R.N. (33)
    Civility is, indeed, a Torah value. Derakheha darkhei no’am: pleasantness is the hallmark of the path of Torah Judaism. Hevei mekabel et kol ha-adam be-sever panim yafot: greet each person with a pleasant demeanor. De-alakh sani le-chaverakh la ta’avid: do not do unto others that which you dislike. Talmud – Avot 1

    The Jews are (and obliged to be) Compassionate, Humble and Charitalbe. – The children of Israel share three traits: they are “bayshanim,” modest, “rachmanim,” merciful, and “gomlei chasadim,” doers of acts of kindness and generosity. By giving willingly, lovingly, the giver provides a sign that he is part of this nation. Talmud

    Comment by Kara — January 28, 2008 @ 12:03 am

  8. Kara is right, the main thing is to be thinking of others as much as possible. The generation of the Talmud’s main avodah, work was Torah. During the times of the Vilna Goan & Baal Shem Tov, the main aspects were prayer. In our times, we are told, the main thing is gemilas chasadim, giving to others in kindness.

    Comment by Reb Moshe — January 28, 2008 @ 5:40 am

  9. BS”D

    People suffer in different ways. At the time when the Jewish people were living both in Bavil and Israel, they both endured very separate exiles. I have heard in the name of Rav Adin Even-Yisroel (Steinsaltz), that the current experiential differences between Jews living in Israel and outside of it, should be viewed like this earlier period in our history.

    You are correct, by and large, Jews in America and other “western” countries don’t know from the dire poverty of our counterparts in the Israel. At the same time, it is not easy to stay motivated and open in the service of Hashem here outside of Israel. Timtuv haleiv, pigum habris, etc… are main day-to-day struggles we face for our spiritual survival. Which situation was more dire: Chanukah or Purim?

    During Chanukah we faced spiritual devastation … the Greeks encouraged us to learn our Torah if we wish, just don’t bring Hashem into it, c”v. Today, that can translate into a halachist who forgets about G-d, or a businessman, or anyone facing the preponderance of spiritual tests over that of the spiritual.

    During Purim we faced physical destruction … the level of a lottery is that of trying to relegate the difference between us and non-Jews to that of the difference between one physical body and another. But although we look similar, Hashem chose us do to the great strides we displayed in our physical service of Him.

    Obviously, both holidays have both aspects, just like Jews living both inside and outside Israel have both tests. It’s a matter of emphasis.

    I think part of the communication between Klal Yisroel should be the recognition of the various pain exile inflicts. That we all need Hashem to help. But just as we rely on Reb Moshe and other to wake us up spiritually, where possible, we should open our hearts to give to those who benefit us.

    Comment by Yonason — January 30, 2008 @ 11:18 am

  10. Yonason,
    From reading this I must ask, have you begun writing a sefer yet?

    Comment by Reb Moshe — January 30, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

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