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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Is there a prayer when you make aliyah?

Immigration to Israel, 1947

Given that there are prayers and brachot for just about every occasion in Jewish life, wouldn’t you think there would be one for when you move to Israel, one of the most important mitzvot in the Torah? 

What about visiting Israel?  It’s said that every 4 amos (cubits) you walk in the land of Israel is equivalent to every mitzvah of the Torah… so why don’t we make a bracha before we do it?

The closest that I found was this page wherein a visitor asks if there’s a “mi sheberach” for aliyah – the long monotonic intonation of blessings when a person’s called up to the Torah on a specific occasion. 

And what do you know?

It turns out there is. 

Originally written in 1948, here’s the full text in Hebrew (original source here):

מי שבירך אבותינו הקדושים והטהורים אברהם יצחק ויעקב משה ואהרן דוד ושלמה הוא יברך וישמור וינצור כל אחינו בני ישראל אנשים ונשים וטף זקנים וצעירים ההולכים בים וביבשה ובאוירון לעלות לארץ אבותינו.

מלך מלכי המלכים ברחמיו ישמרם ויחיים, ומכל צרה וניזק יצילם. מלך מלכי המלכים ברחמיו יבטל מעליהם ומעלינו כל גזירות קשות ורעות, ויגזור עליהם ועלינו גזירות טובות, ויגיעם למחוז חפצם לשלום ויאריכו ימים על אדמת הקודש. מלך מלכי המלכים ברחמיו יקרב גאולתינו ועלייתנו לארצנו ונבלה שם ימינו בטוב ובחירות על התורה ועל העבודה. ובא לציון גואל וכן יהי רצון ונאמר אמן.

With the help of Google Translate, here is (loosely) what it means:

May the One Who blessed our holy and pure ancestors, Abraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, Moshe, Aaron, David and Shlomo, bless and keep and save all our brethren the Children of Israel; men and women and children, young and old; those who are travelling by sea, by land or by air, to ascend to the Land of our ancestors. 

May the King of Kings in His mercy keep them and sustain them, and from every misfortune or harm rescue them.  May the King of Kings, in His mercy annul from over them and from over us all harsh and evil decrees, and pass over them and over us decrees for good, grant their desires for peace and lengthen their days upon the Holy Land.  May the Kind of Kings in His Mercy bring near our redemption and our own ascent to our Land and we will enjoy there our days in good and freedom through Torah and our efforts.  [As it is written,] “And a redeemer will come to Zion,” and so it shall be his will… and let us say, Amen.

Those are definitely some sentiments to get behind.  What was true in 1948, both about the dangers and about the effort that it takes to build this land, is still very much true today.

If you happen to be part of a shul with a creative-thinking gabbai, it might be worth handing him a copy of this text a couple of days before your last Shabbos in your (current) hometown.

True, we may not technically NEED a prayer for aliyah when the Land of Israel is the central longing of every single Jewish prayer already.  On the other hand, it’s a special endeavour, so it just feels right, perhaps, to mark it in a Jewish way.

Certainly, I can’t imagine a more-than-fitting send-off… than having your current spiritual home send you off in style to our people’s spiritual homeland.

What do you think?

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


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