Making Aliyah – the Big Move – might feel like a good idea, but why? Then again, it might seem like it doesn’t make that much sense… could it be that there is something compelling you to go to Israel? Maybe something deeper than you even realize?
According to Jewish tradition, the only place in the world that is inherently holy is the land of Israel. There are many mitzvot, such as Shmita, the sabbatical year for farming, which can only be performed in Israel. The Sifre says that the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael is as important as all the other mitzvot put together.
Nachmanides (the Ramban) includes making aliyah in his list of the 613 commandments. At the age of 70, he made aliyah to Jerusalem and established a synagogue that still exists today in the Old City. In the Talmud, at the end of tractate Ketubot, the Mishnah says:
A man may compel his entire household to go up with him to the land of Israel, but may not compel one to leave.
A husband or wife can force his or her spouse to move to Israel. The discussion on this passage in the Mishnah emphasizes the importance of living in Israel:
One should always live in the Land of Israel, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are idolaters, but let no one live outside the Land, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are Israelites; for whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a God, but whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who has no God.
Others view the living in Israel in a different light. According to Rav Moshe Feinstein, one of the leading Orthodox rabbis of the 20th century, moving to Israel is like wearing a tallit — it’s an optional mitzvah. Though there are more mitzvoth to perform in Israel, living here makes it easier to observe the many of the central commandments. Most businesses are closed on Shabbat and holidays, employers are forbidden by law from requiring people to work on Shabbat, many restaurants are kosher, and most grocery stores stock only kosher food.
When you are ready to move to Israel or only considering it, the resources on this site can help you plan your move.