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      Hollywood to the Holy Land
      by Tzvi Fishman
      Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Jewish Creativity and Culture

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      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.


      Iyar 13, 5768, 5/18/2008


      Some readers accuse me of harping on the mitzvah of living in Israel, but it isn’t me – it’s the Torah. Once again, in this week’s portion, the Torah states: “I am the L-rd, your G-d, who took you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, to be your G-d” (Vayikra, 25:38).

      Rashi explains the meaning of “to be your G-d,” stating: “For whoever resides in the Land of Israel, I am a G-d to him; and whoever leaves it is like one who worships idols.”

      This startling teaching is also stated in the Talmud. It applies not only to  Jews who leave the Land of Israel, but also to Jews who make the Diaspora their home, as it says: “In all generations, a Jew should live in the Land of Israel, even in a city where the majority of inhabitants are idol worshipers, and not live in the Diaspora, even in a city where the majority of residents are Jews, for everyone who lives in the Land of Israel is like someone who has a G-d, and everyone who lives in the Diaspora is like someone who has no G-d, as it says, ‘I am the L-rd, your G-d, who took you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, to be your G-d,’ for someone who resides in the Diaspora is like someone who worships idols” (Ketubot 110B). 

      I’m sorry if this hurts your feelings, but this is what it says in the Torah. This is what Rashi says. This is what the Talmud states. This is the halacha as recorded by the Rambam (Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 5:12).

      A Jew is supposed to live in Israel even in a city where the majority of residents are idol worshipers, and not live in Monsey, Melbourne, or Timbuktu, even if the majority of residents are Jews. This means that a Jew is supposed to live in Israel even if the Land is filled with anti-Torah leftists, corrupt Jewish politicians, and self-hating journalists.
      Blame Rashi, blame the Rambam, blame HaKodesh Baruch Hu, not me.

      A few blogs ago, we explained the shocking comparison between Jewish life in the Diaspora and idol worship by citing the teaching of the Ramban concerning the ministering angels that G-d has appointed to preside over all of the countries of the world, excluding the Land of Israel, where G-d alone rules. Judaism outside of Israel is “like” worshiping idols in that one’s worship in the Diaspora is intercepted, as the Ramban explains, by the intermediary angel, and does not rise directly to G-d Himself.

      I have tried to open up the eyes of my brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to this all-important reality by quoting the holy words of our Sages, and by using metaphors and photographs and the like. Many readers have joined in to help me, out of a true concern for our beloved brethren enveloped in the darkness of exile. For those still scattered Jews whose light bulbs still haven’t lit up, I will try once again, even though it bring me more of their scorn.

      For example, everyone knows that the real baseball is the major league baseball in America. In comparison, baseball in Japan is a joke. No matter how skilled its players may be, Japanese baseball just doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t look the same. It’s out of place. Like it or not, baseball just doesn’t belong in Tokyo. At best, it is a poor imitation of the real major leagues, with the unmatchable CRACK of a Louisville Slugger bat pummeling a hardball into the bleachers at Yankee Stadium to the unmatchable ROAR of the crowd and the smell of American hot dogs, spilled beer and roasted peanuts.
      Not the real thing

      The same dichotomy applies to Jewish life in Israel versus Jewish life in foreign gentile lands. No matter how much private Yiddishkeit there is in Monsey or Boro Park, it’s the minor leagues compared to the national Jewish life of the Land of Israel, which has all of the Yiddishkeit of Boro Park, plus a thousand things more. This is obvious. No one can argue this. The attention of the entire world is focused on Israel. In comparison, who cares what is going on in Monsey? Who bothers to click on Jewish websites centered in Melbourne or Sidney? Who would bother to tune into something called “Vienna National News?” The real thing is here in Israel. This is the major leagues. When it comes to being a Jew, there is nothing like it at all.


      Iyar 11, 5768, 5/16/2008

      Question of Aliyah

      I am married with a 6 year old daughter. I am ready to make Aliyah, but my wife is nowhere near ready to. What would you suggest? I love her deeply & do not want this to affect my marriage of almost 10 years.

      Thanks in advance for your thoughts & ideas. I also love reading your blogs every day & hope you continue to spread the word.


      Iyar 9, 5768, 5/14/2008

      Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

      Please see the end of this blog for the most recent update on protest activities. Now you have a chance to put your money where your mouth is.

      I'll be out there this evening at the Presidents Conference to greet Olmert and Bush with the three posters I made, even if it means getting arrested again. I have some extras, so if Mike, Daniel, Shmuelik, Roger and their friends want to join me, you are all welcome. It will be my birthday, so we can pop open a few cans of beer and laugh about old times. Come on, fellas, forgive and forget. Let bygones be bygones.  

      The Burning Bush
      More Timely Than Ever
      Mike, Daniel, Shmuelik, Roger - Read Your Bible!

      For those of you who like videos, here's a little something I helped put together. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZtiGUXkm4Y 

      I hope Mike won't be upset that I mad fun of his commander in chief and his country.


      I have no problem with most of Mike's poster ideas mentioned in his talkback 18. For instance, how's does this one grab you?

      Olmert - Founder of Hamistan

      The problem is that posters cost money. Printing costs a shekel a poster. To cover Jerusalem, you need a thousand posters. Getting the posters pasted on billboards, fences, buildings, walls, electric boxes, along main highways, etc, costs 3-5 shekels a poster, depending on the expertness of the team. That's 3-4 thousand shekels on Jerusalem alone. To cover the whole country and influence the attitude of the man on the street and voters, you have to multiply that sum by ten. That's at least 300,000 shekels for a single poster. 100,000 bucks. Any contributors? 

      PS - Effective videos cost money too.

      Iyar 6, 5768, 5/11/2008

      Half Emunah

      During the upcoming months, I will be blogging far less since I have a deadline to meet on a book I am writing. In the meantime, you can argue amongst yourselves about the virtues of living in Israel and thereby keeping the Torah in its true way. For the benefit of everyone, I will reserve the privilege of trashing heretical talkbacks, in whatever form they take. Since I won’t have the time to read them all, no doubt many poisonous entries will get posted, and I apologize for that.

      For now, here is an excerpt from a lecture of Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook, of blessed memory, explaining to his students at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem how it can happen that Torah-observant Jews can turn their backs on the very foundation of the entire Torah, the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael.
      HaRav Tzvi Yehuda (center) Conquest of Kotel
      Rav Tzvi Yehuda said that just as there are levels of Torah knowledge, there are levels of emunah – faith in G-d. There are people with great belief, and there are others of rickety belief, stemming from a mistaken understanding of the Torah.

      “Emunah is certainty,” Rav Tzvi Yehuda explained. “Contrasting this is emunah stemming from philosophical inquiry alone, which can bring about a situation of partial faith. This is the false emunah, which is mentioned in the Torah in connection with the Spies.”

      The Spies were the leaders of the Children of Israel who were sent ahead to spy out the Land of Israel after the Jews had departed from Egypt. They came back with a negative report, saying that while the Land itself was good, the Jews would be eaten up by the fierce inhabitants of the Land, intimating that Hashem did not have the power to protect them. Their sin caused the destruction of that generation in the wilderness and led to the destruction of the Temples and exile amongst the nations.
      "We were like grasshoppers in our eyes." The Spies in the Wilderness

      “Referring to their sin, the Torah says, ‘In this matter, you did not believe in the L-rd your G-d’ (Devarim, 1:32). In this matter, in not making aliyah to Israel, they did not have emunah. In other matters, they did believe. They believed, and yet they didn’t believe. This is a state of half-emunah.”

      “In contrast, the foundation of faith is seen in Avraham Avinu, as it says, ‘And he had emunah in the L-rd (Bereshit, 15:6). He wasn’t a half-believer. He believed with a complete faith, with ‘emunah shlema,’ in the language of the Rambam (Thirteen Principles of Faith).

      “The Spies had a deficiency in their emunah, as it says, ‘Yet you would not go up to Israel (Devarim, 1:26). You have emunah, yet in this matter of aliyah, you don’t have belief.”

      “There are types of ‘Tzaddikim who don’t belief,’ as it says in the Talmud (Sotah 48B). They select and chose words of the Torah and the commandments, saying, ‘This matter is arranged properly by the Almighty. It is very nice, it pleases me, it’s easy to do, therefore I agree to abide. However, this matter is not so pleasing in my eyes.’ This approach to Torah leads to heresy.”

      “In contrast to this selective Judaism comes the true approach of, ‘Everything that the L-rd said, we will do and listen’ (Shemot, 24:7) We will do it, whether it pleases us or not, whether we intellectually agree, or whether the matter is above our logic.”

      “When the Torah is seen in its true light, there is no criticism of Hashem and opposition to His commandments. In place of criticism comes cleaving, harmony, and complete emunah.”

      Rav Tzvi Yehuda emphasized that this piecemeal practice of Torah, as exemplified by the tragedy of the Spies, occurs when the Torah isn’t learned in the proper fashion.

      That’s it for now. In the meantime, we recommend that readers review our blogs from the beginning, especially the excerpts from the writings of Rabbi Kook and his son, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda.

      All the best and hatzlachah!  


      Iyar 3, 5768, 5/8/2008

      Barbequed Talkbacks

      It turned out that we didn't need charcoal this year, we had so many talkbacks to burn. It was a great tikun for the chickens and marshmallows, including them in our day of thanks for the goodness the L-rd granted the Jewish People with the establishment of the Jewish State.

      The Great Tikun

      I've done what I could to help them. From now on they are on their own.