The immigration experience has been much harder than expected. I am here for a year already, and not at all acclimated. Don't get me wrong, I have been welcomed with open arms into this community, and people have been great to me. But I miss home, still don't really feel I fit in and don't get the mentality. I am still very much a foreigner. Jews have moved around a lot in history, so is there a Jewish approach to adjusting to new country?


Your difficulty is not uncommon. In fact every soul goes through a similar process on its journey to higher worlds.

Death is the ultimate immigration experience. The soul leaves this world and moves into the spiritual realm. This is most unsettling. Having become accustomed to life in a body on earth, the soul is at first disoriented and lost in its new supernal domain.

In order to adjust to this new reality, the soul has to be helped to forget physical life, to actively rid itself of the sights and sounds, the flavors and the attitudes of life in a body. As long as the soul still holds on to worldly memories it cannot appreciate this new, more refined world.

Of course, the soul can hold on to memories of the loved ones it left behind, because those connections are not merely physical. But tactile sensations and bodily pleasures must be forgotten in order to develop a taste for the higher pleasures up there.

This is astounding. It means you can be in heaven and not enjoy yourself, because you are thinking of the life you left behind. You'd expect that physical pleasures would pale in comparison to heavenly life. But no. The memory of familiar comforts will blind you to the opportunities that are still unfamiliar. No matter how sublime the delights of paradise may be, if you are still in earth mode, you will not appreciate them. You must shed your worldly outlook before you can adopt an other-worldly one.

The same applies to immigration. As long as your head is back in the old country, you will never settle in the new. You may be right—the water tasted better, the traffic wasn't as bad, the bureaucracy and the mentality and the accent and the price of fish are all better back home. Maybe. But you will only make your new country home if you stop comparing it and start living in it.

Being away from family and friends will always be tough. But you need to consciously make a shift—an immigration of the mind—by saying, "Now I'm here, and that's that." Then give it some time. Even heaven takes getting used to.

Zohar II 211b