Some of the best alyia advice we heard was that the transition is easier if we would downsize from our large American home before making the move into what will certainly be considerably smaller space in Israel. So, along with 3/4 of our belongings, we sold our three story 6 bedroom, 4 bath home, with several open living spaces and a nice sized kitchen, a large back yard and ample basement space for storage-- and moved into a cozy three bedroom 2 1/2 bath apartment on one level with not an inch of extra storage space. It wasn't hard to part with most of the things that filled up the spaces in our house, things we thought were necessary when we bought them. But it was painful to leave our home, our cocoon for so much love and growth in the 11 years we lived there. And it was uncomfortable to think about living in a place that was not really ours.
Now, as David and I pack our lives into boxes for the second time in nine months, this time bound for a 3 bedroom 1 bath apartment in Jerusalem, I would like to share with you some thoughts that renting this apartment has taught me.
I would say that my favorite pleasure in our home on Breezy Lane, was its treetop view from a vast wall of windows. We had poplar, cherry, maple, dogwood, fig, distant pines, and trees I did not know the names of. We planted many, we cut some down, pruned their limbs and picked delicious fruit off our trees.
We still enjoy a view of trees. Although from smaller windows, I can admire and enjoy oak and maple, apple and pear, pine and dogwoods just the same. I cannot anticipate the taste of their fruit yet we are free from worrying about the liability of their falling branches. These trees are not “ours,” and knowing this, I know now that the trees on Breezy Lane were not “ours” either. Living in a place that does not belong to us has taught me that the world, and all the beauty with which Hashem endows it---- belongs to Him, for us to care for and enjoy.
We try to take care of the apartment as if we will be here indefinitely. It’s a matter of mechubadut, treating it with dignity. Even though we are not invested in making the carpet last 10 years-we still treat it as if we are. Everything, every person, Hashem puts in our lives to help us is worthy of this honor. Here we learned to have more respect for the people and things around us-even if they serve in only a limited role.
The landlord here at Post Apartments is good. They fixed the dishwasher, cleared many a sluggish drain and provided a portable air conditioner when our compressor broke. It only took a call. As well to our Heavenly Landlord, who attends to our every need-it only takes our call. He may want to hear from us more than once, for more than a year or for longer than we think we can handle. We could get frustrated and move away-but we will never find a more attentive, loving, enduring Landlord than the Ribono Shel Olam.
The best part of living in an apartment is its impermanence. When we moved in, we did not know how long we would be here. We had a goal in mind: Eretz Yisrael. We had a mission to accomplish: assemble the necessary framework to make our goal a reality. In renting this temporary place I more clearly understand how our lives on this world are exactly that: we are here to acquire mitzvoth-the framework of our lives, with which, b’esrat Hashem, we will make our place in the World to Come.
May we soon be together to celebrate in a permanently rebuilt Yerushalayim!