Thursday, May 07, 2009

Captive fish

Michael Freund's article in the Jpost today expressed perfectly a lot of my frustrations with the place of Aliyah on the agenda of Orthodox Jewry in the US.

The piece made me think about the old argument that "as a fish lives in water, so a Jew should live in Israel". A friend of mine has a beautiful fish tank. Huge. Takes up the wall of his living room. A state of the art filter system keeps the water clean. The water is kept at the right temperature year round. On a regular basis he dumps the requisite amount of food into the tank so that all the fish need to do is open their mouths and swim to the top of the tank. New plants are added as old ones die out. He takes care to maintain a balance - sudden death is rare because there are no predators in the tank and it's conditions are controlled nicely. The lights go on and off on a regular basis.

Fish are not meant to live in a tank. They're meant to live in the sea, or a river, or a lake. The conditions are more difficult - hunting for food, keeping safe from sharks and other fish, occasional spills of pollution, icing over in the winter. That however is their natural condition and their overall quality of life when living as G-d intended will be far superior than going round and round in circles in an environment which whilst pleasant is still artificial - no matter the hardships involved.

Captive fish don't have the choice to go back to their home. If they did, they'd take it in a second.



Tamar said...

Beautifully put. I really do feel like I'm in my natural home here, and can't for the life of me figure out how Torah-observant Jews sustain themselves in chu"L with any kind of happiness.

rutimizrachi said...

Extremely nice analogy. I was wondering where you could be going with it, as your friend takes such good care of his fish, it sounds like a luxurious spa. But while a spa, or Disneyland, may be wonderful for a short while, at the end of the day, it is real life that gives us purpose. We have never felt so real and purposeful, nor so defined as Jews, as since our aliyah to our own Land.