Ordering items online can be one of the biggest challenges of making Aliyah. I mean, after learning Hebrew, navigating bureaucracy and acclimating to Israeli culture, of course. In America, packages are delivered to the front door within a few days (and sometimes the same day with Amazon Prime).
In Israel, most packages are delivered to pick-up points throughout the country (you usually get to pick one closest to you). Delivery typically takes a few weeks, though I had one iHerb package that arrived in less than a week! (Americans love ordering from iHerb because it has cheaper health products from brands we trust.)
I can’t tell you the number of places I have gone to pick up packages: coffee shops, hat stores, laundromats, phone repair stores, mini markets, spice shops…the list goes on. When all goes well, I find the address and retrieve my package in one shot. But sometimes, it takes a few tries.
I recently received a delivery from iHerb during the chagim (the month when we have one holiday after the other). I kept getting texts to pick up the package—this time at an electronics store. But every time I went, the shop was closed! A pile of iHerb packages enticed me from a neighboring shop. I tried to look through them, but an employee checked my delivery text and sternly said the package wasn’t there. Twice, I left empty handed.
After the holidays ended (I learned to wait until “acharei hachagim” to do anything), I returned to the electronics store. Sure, I had to wait 10 minutes for the guy to repair someone’s phone, but I ultimately received my package! Thank G-d. In Israel, third time is often the charm.
I was also impressed that each time I unsuccessfully attempted to get my package, I stayed calm. I wasn’t too bothered because, frankly, I was used to it. When I first arrived in Israel, I undoubtedly would have become irritated. But I’ve come a long way from expecting American-level customer service. Israel has taught me to brush off the little annoyances and focus on what really matters. My stress response stays lower, which means I am healthier and happier.
In fact, everything gets easier once you learn the country’s operating rules. The gap between expectations and reality closes (usually by lowering our expectations). We recently ordered a bookshelf and chose a delivery date on the website for that Sunday. Of course, no one showed up. They called a few days later and said the bookshelf will be delivered within 14 days, and they’ll call us the day before. A little annoying, but okay, hakol beseder, everything is okay.
Because of the country’s flexibility with time, I had very low expectations when I ordered a carpet for our weekly meditation gathering—a partnership between Yavneh Bayit and Or HaLev. I was impressed by the easy website and free shipping, but I was skeptical about the estimated delivery date. Lo and behold, the carpet showed up two business days later. I was pleasantly surprised, but only because I wasn’t expecting it. I wonder if we can apply this kind of non-attachment to other areas in life. Fewer expectations=fewer disappointments and, sometimes, happy surprises.
Israel is our spiritual home, but it’s still catching up on the materialistic front. We’ve come a long way, and I have no doubt the start-up nation will progress exponentially. In the mean time, we can do our part and then let go. Everything works out in the end.
PS: I am grateful that I live in a country without the ease of Amazon. In journalism school, I was part of an investigative team uncovering the working conditions in Amazon warehouses. Check out the exposé here: The Unseen Plight of Amazon Warehouse Workers. Afterwards, I went on an Amazon strike but couldn’t keep it up for long. The ease and affordability kept luring me back in.
PPS: If you ever need a carpet in Israel, I highly recommend www.carpetshop.co.il!