Middle East 6:42 AM 12/9/2013
Inside Israel 1:13 AM 12/9/2013
Middle East 2:16 AM 12/9/2013
The Derech Eretz Show
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
This is what Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai taught us. The great wisdom of patience. To see below the surface appearance to the inner reality, where the light of Israel shines in an eternal, unquenchable blaze.
Inspired by the light of the Zohar, Rabbi Kook writes:
“Out of the profane, holiness will also come forth, and out of wanton freedom, the beloved yoke (of Torah) will blossom. Golden chains will be woven and arise out of secular poetry, and a brilliant light of t’shuva will shine from secular literature. This will be the supreme wonder of the vision of redemption. Let the bud sprout, let the flower blossom, let the fruit ripen, and the whole world will know that the Spirit of G-d is speaking within the Nation of Israel in its every expression. All of this will climax in a t’shuva which will bring healing and redemption to the world” (Orot HaT’shuva, 17:3).
Indeed, the revival of the Jewish people in Israel is a wonder that is impossible to explain in any mundane fashion. Clearly, there are powerful inner forces at work as we return to our homeland. Increasingly sensitized to our own national longings, we realize that gentile lands cannot be called home. The process takes time. The nation is not transformed overnight. But gradually, the curse of galut is erased. From being a scattered people, the Jewish nation returns to have its own sovereign state. G-d’s blessing is revealed in all facets of the nation’s existence; military success, economic prosperity, scientific achievement, the resettlement of the nation’s ancient cities and holy sites — all leading to a great national t’shuva, the renewal of prophecy, and the return of the Divine Presence to the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, in fulfillment of our prayers.
Rabbi Kook explains that the secular, physical rebuilding must necessarily precede the spiritual building. The Talmud teaches that the Beit HaMikdash was first constructed in a normal, profane manner, and only after its completion was its sanctity declared (Me’ilah 14A). This is the pattern of spiritual building; first comes the physical vessel, and then its inner content. First the Ark is constructed, and then the Tablets are placed within.
It must be remembered that the Zionist movement did not begin with Herzl, but rather with the giants of Torah, the Baal Shem Tov and the Gaon of Vilna, more than a hundred years earlier. They sent their students to settle Eretz Yisrael, teaching that the active resettlement of the Land was the path to bring the long-awaited redemption. Other great Rabbis, Rav Tzvi Hirsh Kalisher, Rav Eliyahu Guttmacher, and Rav Shmuel Mohliver were the actual builders of the early Zionist groups like the “Lovers of Zion.” As the movement spread, its message attracted many non-religious Jews as well.
Rabbi Kook writes:
“Occasionally, a concept falls from its loftiness and its original pureness after it has been grounded in life, when unrefined people become associated with it, darkening its illumination. The descent is only temporary because an idea which embraces spiritual goodness cannot be transformed into evil. The descent is passing, and it is also a bridge to an approaching ascent” (Orot HaT’shuva, 12:12).
The Zohar teaches that the original, pure, lofty idea of the return to Zion is that the revival of the Jewish nation in Israel is the earthly foundation for the revelation of the Kingdom of G-d in the world (Zohar, Ki Tisa, 276A). However, when a holy idea needs to be grounded in reality, it necessarily descends from its exalted elevation. When this happens, people of lesser spiritual sensitivities seize the idea and profane its true intent. Because greater numbers of people can grasp the idea in its minimized form, its followers increase, bringing more strength and vigor to its practical implementation. This trend continues until the inner spiritual light arises to banish the material darkness.
“This process will surely come about,” Rabbi Kook proclaims. “The light of G-d, which is buried away in the fundamental point of Zion, and which is now concealed by clouds, will surely appear. All those who cling to it, the near and the distant, will be uplifted with it, for a true revival and an everlasting salvation.”
Rabbi Kook’s deep spiritual insight did not blind him to the unholy lifestyles of the secular pioneers, and we are not blinded to the painful shortcomings of their followers today. However, as the Lag B’Omer bonfires blaze all over Israel, filling each house with the aroma of burning incense, we know that the holy essence of Am Yisrael guarantees that the nation will return to its roots.
Long before the establishment of the State of Israel, Rabbi Kook described this process in almost prophetic terms:
“We recognize that a spiritual rebellion will come to pass in Eretz Yisrael amongst the people of Israel in the beginnings of the nation’s revival. The material comfort which will be attained by a percentage of the nation, convincing them that they have already completely reached their goal, will constrict the soul, and days will come which will seem to be devoid of all spirit and meaning. The aspirations for lofty and holy ideals will cease, and the spirit of the nation will plunge and sink low until a storm of rebellion will appear, and people will come to see clearly that the power of Israel lies in its eternal holiness, in the light of G-d and His Torah, in the yearning for spiritual light which is the ultimate valor, triumphing over all of the worlds and all of their powers” (Orot, Pg 84).
“The nation’s eyes will be opened, its soul will be cleansed, its light will shine, its wings will spread, a reborn nation will arise, a great, awesome, and numerous people, filled with the light of G-d and the majesty of nationhood. Behold, the people shall rise up like a great lion, and like a young lion, it shall lift itself up” (Orot HaT’shuva, 15:11).
Mike, if not Eretz Israel then where? We are all going to die sometime and
at 61, I'm only half way thru my life expectancy, so anything sooner is
definitely a bummer. However, things aren't looking good for Jews in
the US so where do we make our stand? The banks of the Potomac or the
banks of the Jordan? If American Jews are just going to Israel to get
more house for their dollar, and as here, expect the government to do
everything for them, well, I don't completely blame you for calling
them lemmings. Israel is far from a magic bullet to fix all our galut
mistakes or get us even more goodies than we had here. It takes
commitment and dedication to survive in Eretz Israel until Mashiach
comes. The truth is it takes dedication and commitment to live as a
Jew anywhere and even as a non-Jew if you want to do it with integrity
The Diaspora Jews aren't listening. I had a Syrian Jewish woman of
advanced years tell me just this past weekend, that it will never
happen here because in America we have Congress and a President! This
is a woman who sees herself as religious. Ok, I agree but who is her
She was amazed that we want to return to Israel rather than enjoy all
the "blessings" of Miami. I see no purpose in anyone dedicated to
Eretz Israel remaining here to try to convince those who don't want to
see. The door is barred and the window is almost closed. In a few
months it will be too late. Those who love Israel need to return now
and FIGHT for her. In that I agree with Mike. Don't just sit and wait
for a "good" government to arise. Make it happen. When Nehemiah
returned with the Babylonian exiles, they built the Temple with their
builder's tools in one hand and a sword in the other. That should be
I for one am not a lemming. I know the risks of both places. I don't
like governments, period, but until my King comes I must cope with
what our corporate sin has brought upon us. I choose to risk life with
purpose and meaning in Israel rather than a life of futility that
could well be cut short for no more than a hit of crystal meth or the
violent reaction of a uniquely American sociopathic personality who
projects his pathology unto me one unfortunate day.
That’s what I have to say.
Yesterday, we had the privilege of driving north to Meron, in the entourage of the revered Kabbalist, Rav Eliahu Leon Levi, for a beat-the-mob visit to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, whose yahrtzeit will be celebrated on Lag B’Omer, beginning this Thursday night.
For half a kilometer in both directions along the highway leading to the site, people are already camped out in tents. Traffic patterns have been diverted, and hundreds of policemen are already in place, ready for the one million devotees who are expected to arrive to honor the author of the Holy Zohar over the next few days. There is no more festive a memorial day anywhere in the world.
Since there are readers who say silly things about the Kabbala, we won’t write anything more on the subject. For people who would like a taste of Rabbi Shimon’s teachings, a selection can be found in the Zohar section of jewishsexuality.com.
In the meantime, we will continue with our new leaf of love, and Rabbi Kook’s writings on the Land of Israel and aliyah, with goal of softening hearts that have become bitter and fortified in a defensive posture in order to ward of the pummeling blows of my hitherto offensive assaults.
Another public proclamation of Rabbi Kook was addressed to Orthodox communities to urge their Aliyah to Israel. In establishing a movement called “The Banner of Jerusalem,” Rabbi Kook called upon all religious Jews to come to Israel to rebuild the nation’s spiritual life, just as the secular Zionists were rebuilding the physical.
“Jews! We call you to the sacred task of building our Jewish nation in our Holy Land, in Eretz Yisrael. Come to us, rally together under the “Banner of Jerusalem” which we now raise aloft before the whole Jewish religious public.
“We all know the ‘Banner of Zion’ which unites a certain portion of our brethren on the basis of our Jewish secular interests in the Land of Israel. But there are many who have not joined those who bear the Zionist flag, and a great many who feel it impossible to do so. We simply record the plain fact that this is so, without questioning its veracity.
“Yet it cannot be that the largest, most natural, and earnest portion of Jewry, the majority of the Jewish religious public, should remain indifferent to the wonderful events of the present, and not lend a hand in the holy task of building our nation on our sacred soil because of, what they call, objections.
“Jews, all the loyal believers in the Jewish faith, there can be no doubt that the Divine power is now manifesting itself in us amidst the great world events. We are certainly called to return to our ancient home in the Land of Israel, there to renew our ancient holy life.
“We religious Jews must all profoundly know and believe that the Divine hand is now leading us openly to our high, ideal destiny. We must make known to the whole world, the true meaning of the present wondrous happenings, whose purpose is so clearly the hastening of our redemption and salvation, from which alone will also spring forth the redemption and salvation of all mankind.
“With the flaming, illuminating, Divine faith, with all the luster of our holy Torah, with the vitality of all of the most refined and devout Jews, we shall carry our flag, the ‘Banner of Jerusalem’ by which alone the ‘Banner of Zion’ will also be properly hoisted. For the value of Jewish secular power will be elucidated to the world only in the light of our holy Jewish spiritual power, emphasized by the uplifted voices of the whole religious Jewish world community, setting with holy enthusiasm to the task of our national construction, of our return to the Land of Israel, by the grace of the Divine and illuminating light, O House of Jacob, come, and let us walk in the light of the L-rd.”
This isn’t me. It’s Rav Kook. You want love. Here's love. Unbounded, limitless love. Rav Kook wrote this open letter, which he named, “The Great Call,” to world Jewry in 1907 when the Turks ruled the Land of Israel, when travel was difficult, when livelihood was sparse, before there was a Jewish airline, and a thriving economy, a rebuilt Jerusalem, government subsidies, and Jewish communities filled with yeshivot, modern ten-story apartment buildings, and split-level homes.
“Come to the Land of Israel, dear brothers, come to the Land of Israel. Save your souls, the soul of your generation, the soul of the entire nation; save her from desolation and destruction, save her from decay and degradation, save her from defilement and all evil — from all of the suffering and oppression that threatens to come upon her in all the lands of the world without exception or distinction....
“Escape with your lives and come to Israel; G-d’s voice beckons us; His hand is outstretched to us; His spirit within our hearts unites us, encourages us and obliges us all to cry in a great, powerful and awesome voice: Brothers! Children of Israel, beloved and dear brethren, come to the Land of Israel, do not tarry with arrangements and official matters; rescue yourselves, gather, come to the Land of Israel....
“And now, who is so blind that he does not see the L-rd’s hand guiding us in this, and does not feel obligated to work along with G-d? A heavenly voice in the future will cry aloud on top of the mountains and say, ‘Whoever has wrought with G-d, let him come and receive his reward.’ Who can exempt himself from doing his part in bringing additional blessing and swifter salvation; from awakening many hearts to return to the Holy Land, to the L-rd’s legacy, that they may become a part of it, to settle it with enterprises and buildings, to purchase property, to plant and sow, to do everything necessary for the foundation of life of a stable and organized settlement....
“Brothers, come to the Land of Israel.”