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‘I rarely leave Israel. It’s an ideological thing. There’s nothing for me abroad’ – excerpts

Eyal Freedman, 22; lives in Ma’aleh Adumim, flying to New York

Hi, where are you off to?

New York. I came here early, to renew my passport.

Is it a last-minute flight?

Sort of. In principle, I don’t fly anymore, I leave the country less; it’s an ideological thing. From my point of view, there is nothing for me abroad. I stay in the Land of Israel, my people is here, and my country. I was abroad a great deal as a boy. On every vacation we flew to the United States to visit my grandparents, and I had my fill. After high school I attended a yeshiva, became stronger religiously and decided that I have no further reason to leave the country. If something happens and I have to fly, then fine. But not for pleasure. There are pleasures in Israel.

Then why are you flying now?

My grandmother died a few years ago, and my grandfather has been alone for some time. Because of the coronavirus he can’t be in contact with people. Loneliness isn’t something that’s good or healthy, so I’m going to be with him.

Do you find a connection between the studies and reality?

I find many things that parallel reality, and everything falls into place for me. Take coronavirus, a small virus that is causing the world to shut down – where does it come from? I believe that there’s Divine Providence and that there’s a plan. It’s clear that everyone has free will, but there’s a direction we’re headed in as a society and as a world. In the end, we are nothing.

What do you like about your studies?

The learning makes me alive; it gives me a lot of mental power to act with. I feel that during the periods when I am less connected to learning, those powers are not as strong. It’s also a type of learning that gives you a great many tools.

Is there anything you studied that has influenced you in particular?

There is a book by Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, a book of morality. It talks about nekudat habechira, the “point of choice.” How every person is born into a different reality, a different family, and grows up in a different environment, but the Holy One, blessed be He, does not measure a person by the place he has reached. Rather, he sees what the person has coped with and what his point of choice is. Let’s say there’s a person who wrestles with getting up for morning prayers. There are days when he does and days when he doesn’t. So when he actually does get up to do it – it’s a far greater thing than for someone who always gets up to do it.

How does that relate to you?

What I learned is not to judge people, to understand that everyone comes from a different place. And also that the Holy One does not expect us to get to a certain place.

Source: Eyal Freedman – HAARETZ