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  • Writer's pictureTzippora Felsenthal

Pesach Redemption and Eretz Yisrael

There was a new rule. Apparently, I did need to take the sifrut bagrut (literature matriculation exam). When I first arrived, I was told that I didn’t have to take all of the classes right away. What a relief, not having to deal with so many classes all at once. Each class was a giant task of its own – finding the material to learn for the tests early on so that I was not cramming the day before, making sure the material had true information with accurate translation, and finding a way to take the test in the most efficient way possible. I also needed to think of plan B and C for when the technical information would get lost through all the secondhand miscommunication that happened quite frequently.

So, I was in the middle of 12th grade when I decided to ask again about the sifrut bagrut. It was a bagrut pnimit (internal bagrut), which meant the school makes up the exam and would give me exactly the material I would need to pass. However, that year the rules changed, and no one even knew to tell me. The exam became a bagrut chitzonit (external bagrut-made by the government), which meant I needed to learn 3 years’ worth of sifrut material (the bagrut is usually taken in 11th grade) and the bagrut was only a couple months away! So, there I was, crying in the office having lost my only saving grace because trying to be nice to me totally backfired. How was I supposed to learn 3 years’ worth of a subject along with all of the other bagriot that I had to study for as well? My Hebrew had gotten a little better at that point and it wouldn’t be a complete waste of my time to sit in classrooms to learn the sifrut material. So, I went back to the 11th, 10th, and even 9th grade classrooms. It was quite amusing, and I felt a little bit like Rebbi Akiva, who went to school at the age of 40. Baruch Hashem, I did pass the bagrut in the end. But this story of mine is just one classic oleh story out of many more. There are expectations that crumble all of the time. The thing is you don’t have to crumble as well. As a teen oleh, one can feel like they’re walking on quicksand. They are trusting a system that can break from under their feet in an instance. But it is important not to give up.

Pesach is a time of freedom, where one can break free from the quicksand and be redeemed. After the Jews were redeemed from Egypt, their next stop was supposed to be Eretz Yisrael. Why did Hashem want to bring the Jews specifically here? Because in a place where there’s more hashgacha, divine providence, our chances for success are maximized. Once we became a Free People, Hashem did not want us to go back. Hashem wants us to win and be free from our challenges. As you continue on your journey as a teen oleh, stop for a moment and realize where you are, the place Hashem brought us to after we were redeemed from Egypt! May we all feel this way when we are redeemed from our aliyah challenges- whether big or small and have a chag kasher vesameach!

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