Oy Vey! Have I Got a Problem

Oy Vey! Have I Got a Problem

Got a problem? Email Rachel Stein at oyvey@atljewishtimes.com, describing your problem in 250 words or less

Toco Hills resident Rachel Stein writes about spirituality and, working with readers, tries to help community members deal with dilemmas.

Dear Rachel,

For years, it has been our dream, my husband’s and mine, to make aliyah and establish our home in Israel. There is something indescribable that engulfs us the moment we land on Israeli soil. Is it, perhaps, the clarion call thousands of years old, promising this land as an inheritance to the Jewish people, G-d’s cherished nation? The one land on earth that Hashem declares holy, a place where we will ultimately be able to fulfill every Torah commandment, a home where we can bask in the presence of G-d. It is home, and like a powerful magnet, it pulls us close.

But here’s the clincher. I have elderly parents here in the States, and I typically make sure to take a trip and visit them every other month. As of now, thankfully, they are independent and in good health. But as we all know, there is no guarantee that this will remain the status quo – not for any age, and certainly not when people are octogenarians.

People live longer these days. With G-d’s help, my parents have many long, happy and healthy years ahead of them. Do I sacrifice my life dream and remain in America so that I can remain just a short flight away in case they need me? Or is there a certain point where a person is allowed to say, “This is my dream. Mom, Dad, you can move with us, if you want; we love you and would be honored to have you close by, but it’s time for us to go.”

What would you do?

Signed, Conflicted


Dear Conflicted,

To be perfectly honest, this is a hard dilemma for me to address. Why? Because for me, there is no dilemma; the answer is perfectly clear.

Parents don’t live forever. And as you surely know, there is a Torah injunction, one of the BIG TEN, that mandates giving them the honor and respect they so richly deserve. And while it is certainly admirable and a mitzvah to live in the Holy Land, nowhere does it say that this should be done at the expense of your parents.

How would you feel, my friend, if you settled down in our homeland and suddenly got a call that one or both of your parents is in dire need? Would you be able to live with yourself if you couldn’t attend to them? Even if they have other children nearby, which you didn’t mention, would that be adequate to relieve you of your share in the responsibility?

I am unquestionably biased. Therefore, since this is a weighty and life-altering decision, I recommend seeking rabbinical counsel. A knowledgeable rabbi will be well-equipped to give you an answer that will lay your doubts to rest, ably guiding you in navigating this significant quandary.

I think it’s beautiful that you feel so connected to our land and want to establish your home there. I also think it’s beautiful that you have elderly parents.

Wishing you much success in making the best decision, Rachel Stein

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