I know it’s hard when you are doing Pesach on the French Riviera, or some other such place, to feel that galus is really a bitter, bitter experience. But it is. If we don’t think it is, Hashem has ways of reminding us [insert rant about President Husseim y’mach shemo here].
My daughter will IY”H be coming home from Eretz Yisrael next week, but I’m glad she at least had a hava amina of staying and did not take the first flight out once the seminary “zman” ended. In the end, the logistical complications of finding a place for her to spend Pesach in Israel and making arrangements would have been too much to manage, but at least she had to think about it. Because of that, more than anything else, I consider her year a success. People ask whether a year in seminary in Eretz Yisrael is really worth the thousands of dollars it costs. Does it really make that much difference if a girl knows one more Ramban, a piece from Michtav, or another perek or sefer of Nach? If you ask the question that way, you are missing the whole point of going for the year. It’s not about learning another Ramban, or if you are a boy, another Tosfos, another R’ Chaim. The point of going is to learn one thing: to love Eretz Yisrael.
When a kid gets off the plane in JFK, whether for Pesach, whether in June, and is immediately surrounded by advertisements for all the nahrishkeit available in our society; when a kid comes home and has a choice of six or seven kosher pizza stores, deli, Chinese, and even kosher Mexican (welcome to the Five Towns); when a kid can go to the Yankee game and eat a hot dog like everyone else thanks to having a kosher concession stand, or has to choose whether to spend chol hamoed at Great Adventure or Hershey Park, and af al pi kein that kid gives a sigh because they recognize that nebach, all this is maror, this is galus, none of this compares to what they had while in Eretz Yisrael, can you please tell me how much that is worth, because I can’t put a price on it?
My daughter spent time this past week shopping for gifts to bring home for her siblings. She asked me if I wanted anything, so I told her she didn’t have to go far or spend much on my gift. I asked her to just bring me a stone, any common stone, from the streets of Yerushalayim. If I can’t be there yet in person, at least I can hold that rock in my hand, my little piece of Yerushalayim real estate, and think about the maror of galus, and dream...