Thursday, March 17, 2016
Holding onto the reins of where fate brings "US" (pun intended).
As I mentioned before, while I did have another six (6) months in me to work evenings before I burned out once-and-for-all, it made no sense pushing so much only to go home in January rather than July. Plus, I couldn't do that to the kids again -- my wife and I thought that it would be better to leave after their school year ends, and start the new year fresh with their U.S. classmates.
So a few things have happened recently. We went to the Kotel and prayed to Hashem that he give my wife and I clarity on what we should do. I also wrote a number of letters to the Rebbe asking for some kind of "sign" or "signal" on what we should do, and on both accounts, we got no answer [although I learned yesterday that the Rebbe was very much against "signs" when determining what action or direction to take, especially because ANYTHING can be taken as a "sign," and stupid or wrong decisions can be made on those false "signs."]. That being said, for the past few months, we have been looking at housing near our old home to see what was available (because my wife didn't want to move back to a small apartment, and I wasn't willing to spend thousands of dollars in rent when our costs of living are that much less here in Israel).
Out of nowhere, a beautiful house came on the market and appeared on our iPhone app. It was smaller than our old home, but the yard was... gigantic! We could play multiple games of football on this yard side-by-side, and then have enough room to install a pool, a trampoline, or a full-sized greenhouse. NOT THAT WE WOULD DO ANY OF THESE -- THE LAWN WILL LIKELY STAY EMPTY because we're not that much into amenities and glamour, however, because our lives are very family-centric, the backyard lawn was a very nice addition. The inside was also quaint -- it is larger than our place here, and there is ample storage space and bedrooms to grow our already large family. Okay, so as-is, there is really no place for me to have a long-term office in the home because my wife wants to put a limit of two-kids-per-room (although I think there should be a "boys" room and a "girls" room with a max of three kids in each room, that way I can take one of the bedrooms as a home office for the law firm), but whatever -- I'll be working outside of the home anyway.
On the topic of "working from home," this is something that EVERY MAN should know:
FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR OWN SANITY, FOR G-D'S SAKES MAN, GO AND GET YOURSELF AN OFFICE SPACE TO WORK OUTSIDE OF THE HOME.
THE INDEPENDENCE ALONE THAT YOU WILL EXPERIENCE IS WORTH THE EXTRA EXPENSE. AND, YOUR WIFE WILL BE HAPPIER KNOWING THAT SHE IS NOT BREAKING HER BACK TAKING CARE OF THE KIDS WHILE YOU ARE "PLAYING" UPSTAIRS (YOU KNOW YOU ARE REALLY WORKING, BUT EVEN IF YOU ARE RUNNING THE MOST SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS, THE FACT THAT YOU ARE NOT DOWNSTAIRS WITH HER HELPING OUT WHILE SHE IS TOILING MEANS THAT YOU ARE A LOSER AND THAT YOU ARE NOT HELPING OUT.) SO REALLY, GO GET YOURSELF AN OFFICE.
Anyway, because we were not there to purchase this awesome house ourselves, my wife's family offered to loan us the money to purchase the home (as they did last time, especially since they knew we'd pay them back immediately when we arrived in the US, and since we paid them back the last time they did this for us). We [really, they] bought the house, and so now we have a house in the U.S., ...again.
Now this obviously complicated the issue because as soon as we got the house, my wife and I went back to the "should we, shouldn't we" conversation of whether we can push ourselves to make the Israel Aliyah work, and whether we should give it another push to stay here for another year (with the hopes that at the end of the second year, we wouldn't want to leave). But, now we have a house that we have obligated ourselves to buy, and any delay in coming back will only upset my in-laws, especially since they just laid out hundreds of thousands of dollars for us to facilitate our return. So yeah, that happened.
We took the instant availability of the home as a "sign" from Hashem that we were "meant" to move back home, but we still weren't convinced. Every day, we would have literally countless conversations of "Aleph [meaning, stay in Israel]" versus "Bet [meaning, going home]." By the hour, this changed every day, every hour.
It wasn't until we went to the Kotel a week or so ago [after a very terrible thing happened to us that my wife wouldn't let me talk about and she'd feel violated if I shared what happened with the world, but yeah, that happened, and it was clearly the "finger of Hashem" that caused this horrible thing to happen to us, and it coincidentally happened as soon as we decided that we are going to STAY in Israel ("Aleph") (as if "it" was a result of our decision to stay, or as if the conditions for "it" to happen were set into motion months before we even knew that we would be having the conversations of "Aleph vs. Bet," and then "it" happened to push us to go home in a "fate" kind of way)], that I asked Hashem to help us stop this "Aleph, Bet, Aleph, Bet" confusion because the uncertainty was driving me nuts. I really wanted to have clarity of thought, and not vacillate based on the swing of a pendulum. One minute, we were going to push for another year, the next minute, we couldn't wait to go home.
Well, for now, we have our clarity. I am not sure what has come over us, but since our visit to the Kotel, both my wife and I have come to the conclusion that "yeah, Israel is amazing, it is beautiful, and yes, there are ALL THESE BENEFITS that we were looking for... good schools, good community, amazing culture, safety from race and political turmoil, safety from ISIS, safety from race wars... but with all this said, we still wanted to go home."
We have satisfied ourselves that the "I can't work American hours from Israel and make that work longterm" argument is enough to justify going back, but since then, I have found an office and I have started working during the day. To be honest, I'm getting nothing done here because this office of many businesses working together under one roof is a bit distracting, but at least I am going to minyanim in the morning, and I am working regular business hours. My business no doubt WILL suffer as a result of no longer working American hours, as the law office will only be open from 8am-11am each day (especially with the new daylight savings time hours), but I'll be back soon enough to fix whatever I break and resume normal business hours. In reality, I'll be working from 3am-11am Central Time (working on cases and handling research and other client matters in the morning [regular Israel business hours], but client communications will only appear to take place three hours each day.
So this may end up having the potential to be a longterm solution that would have allowed us to stay indefinitely in Israel, but... because we have already taken so many steps to return to the US (I just made the deposit to register our kids at their private school for when we return) [not to mention that we bought a house, I spent close to $6,000 USD on plane tickets [nonrefundable] to return to the US, and I paid close to $40,000 USD to my in-laws to help them fund the purchase, to do repairs on the new home, etc.], we are set to go and so there is little to look back on now.
Personally, I think it is sad that I didn't find this "shared office space" arrangement earlier. Things could have been different had I figured the work hours out earlier (e.g., working ISRAEL hours, not US hours), but now I am not about to destabilize all our family plans for a solution that may or may not have ended up being the solution I was looking for. Actually, between you and me, it's a bit tragic, because I think this may have been a good solution. But I cannot waiver anymore, and I must hold onto the reins of what decisions we have made, and I must move forward and see where life takes us. As things stand, we are going home to the US, and this was the final decision.
I am a bit sad that I did not make Israel work. My wife talks about "returning to Israel in five years" once our oldest child is old enough to go to yeshiva (and then, to enter the military -- something my wife and I consider a huge honor as part of our belief in supporting the Jewish people and contributing to the building of the State of Israel), but when she mentioned coming back in five years, I did not see how life five years from now would be different from the difficulties we experienced when we were here the first time. I would still have the "US hours vs. Israel hours" issue, and I don't know whether trying again to run the law firm from Israel is a good idea. I'll adapt the law firm to be able to do this as much as possible, but really, the character of the firm and what I practice in it is shaped by the kind of clientele' we get. If I keep doing what I am doing, in five years from now, there will be no viable way of switching back to Israel hours.
I suppose more generally, I am kind of going with the flow. I think deciding to stay would be "rocking the boat" [of fate], and I kind of am at a point in life that I don't want turbulence anymore. I really want a peaceful and quiet life, and whether or not I would have achieved this had we stayed, we have already set in motion a move back to the US, so let's stick to our plan and see where this goes.
NOTE: Image taken from Pixbay, CC0 Public Domain, Free for commercial use, No attribution required. Link.