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Israel Beat Jewish Music Podcast
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.
Nissan 27, 5768, 5/2/2008
This week’s Torah portion is “Kedoshim.” Rashi, who was not known as a Kabbalist, explains the simple meaning of the first verse:
“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, Speak to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, Hashem your G-d, am holy.”
Rashi states: “You shall be holy by being removed from sexual transgression and from sin, for wherever you find a restriction from sexual immorality, you find holiness.”
Commentaries on Rashi explain that his use of the word sin (avarah) is also referring to sexual sin, as Rashi points out in Yoma 29A regarding “hirorei avarah,” meaning sexual fantasies, and in Sotah 3a, regarding “adam ovar avarah,” which refer to sins of a sexual nature.
Every Jew is holy by nature of his or her holy Jewish soul. However, sins, especially sexual transgression, pollute a Jew’s intrinsic holiness in the same manner that garbage pollutes a stream. Through t’shuva (repentance) a person can remove the garbage from the stream, but without t’shuva, the pure Jewish soul remains stained.
The Ramban takes Rashi’s explanation one step further by adding that a Jew does not only have to stay away from major sexual transgressions. Rather, when the Torah commands us to “be holy,” it is telling us that we have to sanctify our behavior even in permitted matters, like the conjugal relations between a man and his wife (Ramban on the Torah, “Kedoshim,” 19:1).
For instance, while a man is allowed to have relations with his wife during the permitted periods, our Sages warn us not to be like roosters with our mates. Furthermore, marital relations are to be conducted in the dark, in the modest manner prescribed by Jewish law. Being holy also means that a Jew is not supposed to gaze lustfully at women, whether in the street, at the movies, on TV, or on the Internet.
Anyone who has not yet clicked on our website, jewishsexuality.com is invited to do so. It is filled with an encyclopedia of knowledge about this vital subject, which is the very foundation of Jewish life. Jewishness is not just a religion, or national identity. Jewishness is a call to live holy lives as individuals and as a holy nation in the Holy Land. The commandments of the Torah are our ladder of sanctification, and, as Rashi and the Ramban explain, the first rung is holiness in our sexual lives.
Nissan 26, 5768, 5/1/2008
Nothing better expresses the inner unity of the Jews of Israel than the two long, heart wrenching minutes, when sirens blare all of the country and people stop what they are doing, cars, buses, pedestrians, bicycles riders, office workers, to stand in frozen tribute to the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
Why don’t the Jews of America all stand in silence at the very same moment? Not only because of the Shoah. Because of the Holocaust that is happening in America today. The Nazis killed 6 million. Since the end of World War Two, assimilation in America has wiped out even more. Not to mention the same devastating Holocaust in England, France, Australia, and wherever Jews live outside of Israel.
Face it. What’s the difference between the blue eyes of the Nazi exterminator and the blue eyes of the forbidden shiksa? Only the means of slaughter. The outcome is the same whether via the gas chamber of a Nazi death camp or the crematorium of a shiksa’s embrace – Jews and Jewish children are slaughtered.
The Holocaust of Love - Sacrificing Jewish Seed to Molech
Sure, Cindy had a Conservative conversion, and Samantha lights the Sabbath candles, and little Moshie and Sarala go to Hebrew school, but it’s all a charade. Cindy and Samantha are not Jews. Little Moshie and Sarala are not Jews either.
Look at them all. The famous and the unfamous. Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Simon and Garfunkel, Kirk Douglas, Woody Allen, Dustin Hoffman, Henry Kissinger, Steven Spielberg, the list goes on and on, like the stars in the sky, who can name them all?
"Woe woe, sold my soul"
Wake up Jews of America! Wake up Jews all over the world! Today, the gentiles are too embarrassed by gas chambers. Today they are killing you with bullets of pseudo acceptance and love. Don’t be fooled by her blond hair, her flashing smile, her blue Eichmann eyes, leading you and your children to the slaughter. Like the Torah warns, “Don’t bow down to their gods and sacrifice your seed to Molech,” meaning to the forbidden shiksa, who annihilates your Jewish seed in the crematorium of her love. Don’t bow down to their customs, their languages, their pornographic cultures, their narcissistic values and ways, just to be welcomed in their treacherous lying embrace.
What’s equally tragic is that, by and large, the religious Jews in the Diaspora don’t care that another Holocaust is unfolding before their eyes. They have their shuls, and their yeshivas, their Holocaust Museums and Wiesenthal Centers, and even a religious university in New York– who cares what’s happening to their non-religious brothers? Their own kids are marrying within the faith – who cares about the others?
Yes, my dear friends, Israel is the only refuge. In one fashion or another, Jewish life in the Diaspora is doomed. Maybe you yourself will get by before the Tzunami comes, wiping out the remnant of the exile. But if you really care about your children, and their children after them, start planning your aliyah now.
Nissan 25, 5768, 4/30/2008
I am deeply hurt by accusations that I violate the sacred commandment, “Love thy fellow Jew as thyself,” which appears in this week’s Torah portion.
Imagine someone who has never been to a hospital . If he were to wander into an operating suite and see a brain transplant in progress, he would react in horror, seeing the brain surgeon take an electric saw and slice open the patient’s skull like a watermelon. “What a cruel monster,” he would think, not understanding the brain surgeon was struggling to save the patient’s life.
In the same way, I am like a brain surgeon trying to save the lives of Jews who have been so severely brainwashed by exile existence that their thinking processes have become completely short-circuited. To all those who accuse me of being hateful and uncaring, the very opposite is the case. Out of my passionate love for all Jews, including brain damaged Jews in the galut, I am doing my best, with the skills that the Almighty has given me, to help them.
Chronic Diaspora Syndrome
Unfortunately, sugar-coated aspirin and a moist compress won’t help someone who is suffering from severe mental disorder. In cases like this, immediate and massive intervention is needed. Sometimes an entire brain transplant may be called for.
Surgeon prays for operation's success.
I am not speaking about the average Diaspora Jew who doesn’t know better, because he was never taught that a Jew’s real place is in Israel, and because the darkness and spiritual pollution of the exile prevents him from grasping this clear message from a simple, straightforward reading of the Torah. I am speaking about a Diaspora Jew who is so mentally deranged that he tries to discourage others from coming to live in Israel. It isn’t enough to speak nicely to them, and show them pretty pictures of Israel, and to point out the endless Torah verses telling the Jewish People to live in Israel. These few, extreme cases have so internalized their gentile surroundings, cultures, and upbringing, they think like the goyim. Instead of a “Yiddisha kup,” they have a “goyisha kup.” Instead of thinking like Moshe Rabeinu, they think like Ben Franklin. Instead of thinking like David HaMelech, they think like Che Guevera. Instead of following the Jewish Sages, they follow themselves. For this, an electric saw is needed to crack through their skulls.
Of course, because of their dysfunction, they don’t even recognize that they have a problem. In their minds, all of the Jews who are dedicating their lives to the rebuilding of the Jewish People in Israel are wrong, and they, in their glass castles in Vienna and Japan are right. To their distorted way of thinking, even G-d was wrong in establishing the State of Israel as He did – they would have done it differently. And just as a patient with severe schizophrenia sees his psychiatrist as an enemy, they misinterpret my attempts to help them for hate.
New Jewish Brain
But just as a psychiatrist doesn’t give up when his patient lashes out at him, because the doctor knows better, I won’t give up trying to help these lost, tormented souls. I know better because I was once severely brain damaged myself, when I was in Los Angeles, a stranger in a strange land, with the head of a goy. With the grace of the Almighty, I underwent a successful brain transplant myself. Today, I have a new head. When I see the Star of David flying in the wind, my heart beats faster. When I hear “Jerusalem of Gold,” I cry. When Yom Haazmaut arrives, I rush off with my children to see the fireworks and feel a surge of religious pride as Israeli fighter bombers roar overhead, spelling out the number 60. Just thinking about it gives me goose pimples. Any Jew who has a negative, cynical reaction to these things is mentally deranged. But I love him all the same.
Goose pimples everytime
Nissan 24, 5768, 4/29/2008
To catch up on other matters that we couldn’t write about over the holiday due to the prohibition against writing (true, the halacha allows the writing of novel Torah insights that might otherwise be forgotten over the holiday, but for a mere blog, this heter is dubious) let’s take a look at last week Torah portion of Achre Mot.
At the end of the portion, we learn that the Land of Israel is not like other lands. The Land of Israel has a living, holy soul that cannot tolerate sexual transgression. In response to sexual transgression, the Land of Israel spits out its inhabitants. The revered Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, explains that this is the main cause of “yerida,” whereby an Israeli leaves the Land of Israel and becomes what is called a “yored,” or “yordim” in the plural. The yored thinks that he or she has made his or her own decision to abandon the Land, but, in truth, the Land has vomited them out into exile for having polluted the holiness of the Land due to the impurity of their deeds.
If you ask why isn’t every sexual violator spit out of the Land, the answer is that the calculations of G-d are balanced between good deeds and bad, and He alone decides when and how the judgment will fall upon the sinner. For instance, while a person may have many sexual sins, he may possess a great love for the Land of Israel that outweighs his sexual misdeeds. Or it could be that even though a person isn’t a big sexual offender, he is always complaining about life in Israel, so the Land spits him out for that.
Let me give two examples. A short time after I had made aliyah, I met an acquaintance from New York who had also recently moved to Israel, but who told me that he was going back to the States. When I asked him why, he explained that before he had made aliyah, Israel Aircraft Industries had promised him a more advanced job than his position in America. But when he arrived in Israel, they could only give him the same level job he had in the past because of budget problems. “Why should I stay here when I can get paid almost double in the States for doing the same job?” he explained.
The very next day, I met another friend from New York, who also informed me that he was returning to live in America. It turned out that his boss had been caught in an embezzlement scam and all the people he had hired were fired, including my friend. Even though my friend had been offered a very good job at another firm, he decided to pack his belongings and call it quits.
At the time, I was lodging in Jerusalem at the home of a saintly, 80 year old woman who was one of the secret Tzaddikim of the Holy City. I had not come on aliyah with any savings, having blown my screenplay money on the vices of Hollywood, and this kind woman was happy to take me on as a non-paying boarder. When I asked her why G-d hadn’t worked things out for my two friends in a more successful fashion, especially since they had made the very idealistic move of immigrating to Israel, she answered: “They placed their careers over their love of the Land. A Jew has to set Jerusalem above his greatest joy. They think that they are rejecting Israel, but Israel is really rejecting them.”
Incidentally, the same thing applies to Jews in the Diaspora who speak out against Israel and even try to dissuade other Jews from immigrating to the Land of Israel, G-d forbid. They think they are rejecting Israel, but in truth, Israel is rejecting them. The Land of Israel does not want egocentrics like this to live in her borders, so G-d blinds them from recognizing the supreme essentialness and beauty of living in the Land, letting them see only external sides that are lacking perfection.
Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook, of blessed memory, explained this with a parable. He said it was like a girl who was set up with a date with a guy whom she knew wasn’t for her. So she dressed up in dirty, smelly garments so that he would feel turned off. While he thought that he was rejecting her, in truth, she was rejecting him. So too, G-d, in His kindness lets a Jew believe he is rejected the Land, but it is really the Land that is rejecting him.
Nissan 23, 5768, 4/28/2008
Because of the holiday break, we missed a few things, so today, let’s take a look at Sefirat HaOmer. We are already in the second week of our counting. Like all of the other commandments, Sefirat HaOmer is loaded with Kabbalistic significance. Without the Kabbalah, we would not know what we were doing when we put on tefillin, wave the lulav, or blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. Yes, there are simple explanations, but someone who only familiarizes himself with pashat, or simple understandings, resembles a swimmer who is afraid to put on a mask and stick his face in the water. If you tell him there is a whole beautiful, marine world below the surface, teeming with all forms of life, he won’t believe you because he has never experienced this deeper, inner world for himself.
To see it, you have to open your eyes.
When it comes to Sefirat HaOmer, look in your prayer books. At least in the major league prayer books in Israel, you will see adjacent to each day of the counting, two mystical words like Hesed of Hesed, Tiferet of Gevorah, or Hod of Tiferet. These words are from the Kabbalistic world of the Sefirot. Each day of the counting, we are called upon to rectify another sefirah, or channel of spiritual blessing. This is an integral part of the process of inner purification that we are to undergo as we approach the holiday of Shavuot. We are not only to mention the day, but also to undertake the detailed, laborious toil of perfecting our character traits and the channels of celestial blessing that are directly parallel to them, just as a marionette puppet is connected to the hand above, or just like the keys of a piano are connected to the chords inside the piano’s lid.
Our words and actions strike Heavenly chords above.
Each time a key is hit, a different sound is produced. So too, each time we improve a character trait, a channel of blessing is cleansed in the spiritual worlds above, releasing a flow of blessing to our world below. If this inner process is just some Kabbalistic mumbo jumbo that doesn’t exist, as some unfortunate souls have the arrogance to claim, then why is it written in every prayer book, at least in Israel, the following recitation:
“May it be Thy will before You, our L-rd, our G-d, G-d of our Forefathers, that in the merit of Sefirat HaOmer which I counted today, that all the damage I have done to the sefirah of (such and such day) will be rectified, and I will be purified and sanctified by the holiness of the upper world, and through this, a great flow of blessing will go forth to all of the spiritual and physical worlds, and will rectify our physical and emotional drives, our intellectual spirits, and our Divine souls from all of their pollutions and blemishes, and leave us sanctified with Your exalted holiness, Amen, Sela.”
Obviously, as the recent Pulitzer Prize recipient, Bob Dylan, used to sing: “Something is going on Mr. Jones, and you don’t know what it is.”
While we are on this subject, we should mention that the great Torah scholar, halachic authority, revered Kabbalist, eyes of the generation, former Chief Rabbi, HaRav Mordechai Eliahu, shlita, is recovering from a heart attack and subsequent six-hour surgery this past Shabbat night. Today, hundreds, including leading Rabbis and Kabbalists, gathered at the tomb of the holy Kabbalist, the Chida, in Jerusalem, to pray for mercy and a speedy healing for the eighty-year-old Torah Sage, HaRav Mordechai Tzemach ben Mazal Tov. In the merit of our holy Forefathers and the Sages and Tzaddikim of all generations, may all of our prayers be answered, that he and all of the sick people of Israel be granted a complete and speedy recovery. Amen.
Prayers at the tomb of the Chida
Tomb of the Chida
Sefardi Chief Rabbi Amar