Getting an Aliyah vs. Making Aliyah

When we think of the word “Aliyah”, one of the following two dictionary definitions probably comes to mind:

Aliyah: Literally "to go up", the word has acquired two common meanings: to be called up to the bimah during the Torah service when a portion of the Torah is being read; the act of immigrating to Israel is referred to as "making aliyah".

Practically, “Aliyah” refers to rising spiritually.

In Parshat Korach, Bamidbar Chapter 16, Korach and other members of the tribe of Levi including Datan and Aviram lead a rebellion against Moshe. When Moshe asks to speak to Datan and Aviram, their response is “Lo Naaleh”, “We will not go up”.

Eben Ezra (16:12) explains why Datan and Aviram used the terminology of “Lo Naaleh” as opposed to just saying “Lo”, “No”. The simple meaning of the text is that Ohel Moed, where Moshe wanted to meet with them was in the middle of the camp, on a raised surface and they didn’t want to go up there. Eben Ezra’s second meaning is that whoever goes to serve God or goes to a holy place is considered an “oleh”, “rising”.

In Parshat Shlach, when the spies complained about the Land of Israel. Calev said (Bamidbar 13:30) “Aloh Na’aleh Viyirashnu Otah”, “We can surely go up to the land and we can surely possess it”.  However, the other spies that were with him (excluding Yehoshua) said “lo Nuchal La’alot”, “We are not able to rise up”.

A group of modern orthodox rabbis who themselves made Aliyah, named their organization “Aloh Na'aleh”. Their mission is to motivate American Jews to come to Israel. The organization believes that the mitzvah of Yishuv Haaretz (returning to the Land) is of utmost importance and that Aliyah is an achievable goal. Their aim is to legitimize Aliyah and place it firmly on the agenda of the North American Jewish community. These Rabbis are in Calev’s camp as opposed to the camp of the spies and Dotan and Aviram.

Different people have different ways of spiritually rising and connecting with God. For some it is going to a synagogue, for others it is receiving an aliyah during Torah reading, for still others it is visiting Israel, praying at the Kotel or ultimately it may be making Aliyah, permanently residing in Israel.

We must continue to rise spiritually.

Question: If two people are standing on a ladder, one on the third rung and one on the second rung, who is higher? Answer: It depends on which direction they are going. Never stop climbing!