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Life Lessons with Judy Simon
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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.
Nissan 22, 5768, 4/27/2008
So writes Dr. Michaels, a Jewish gastroenterologist from Vienna, in an article I saw over the holiday. He asserts that people can die from eating too much matzah on Passover, since the dry wafer can cause severe constipation.
Eating matzah is suicide!
"Each Passover holiday, hospital emergency rooms are filled with Jews needing enemas to get their bowels moving. This is especially dangerous for the elderly,” he asserts. Because of the risk involved, the physician, who declares himself to be a “Thinking Man’s Jew,” maintains that Jews should not eat matzah on Passover, since putting one’s life in danger is a violation of the Torah. He even quotes the Rambam to prove his point: “It is a leading principle in medicine that if there is constipation, or if the bowels move with difficulty, grave disorders result” (Rambam, Laws of Daot, 4:13).
In addition to the danger of eating matzah on Passover, the Viennese physician also maintains that putting on tefillin is also life-threatening, since the arm straps of the tefillin can restrict the flow of circulation, causing heart attacks and other coronary problems.
Restricts blood circulation
Dr. Michael’s colleague, Dr. Issac Shilo, a fellow practitioner of “The Movement of Thinking Man’s Judaism,” points out that no where does the word tefillin appear in the Torah. “The word in the Torah is ‘totafot,’ which is apparently a form of tutty fruity that is to be pasted on the skin like an emblem,” he writes. “The business of the little black boxes and the straps is the hocus pocus invention of the so-called sages of the so-called Oral Torah which has as much authenticity as a Dell horoscope magazine.” Therefore, he concludes, Jews should not put on tefillin.
Vienna based Dr. Michaels also maintains that praying in a synagogue is suicide since many people are killed in traffic accidents on their way to the shul. “If people want to pray, that’s their business,” he says, “But let them pray at home.”
He was in a rush to get to shul
Dr. Shilo concurs, pointing out that synagogues are also not mentioned in the Torah. “If God fills the universe, how can be miniaturized to fit into a synagogue?” he asks. “This concept is the foundation of idol worship.”
The article concludes by reporting that the “Enlightened Movement of Thinking Man’s Judaism” has come out against the commandment of procreation, the very first mitzvah in the Torah, proclaiming that childbirth is suicide. Dr. Michaels explains that in addition to the risks to the mother, every child who is born will eventually die. “The principle of saving life overrides the commandment to be fruitful and multiply,” he says. “It is a proven fact that life leads to death, so we are warning Jews against bringing children into the world so they won’t violate the commandment against suicide.”
Life is suicide
Nissan 20, 5768, 4/25/2008
I read your blog regularly on Arutz7, from my laptop or my work computer from sunny Florida.
I merited studying in Israel for a year, many moons ago, but I ended up back here in the States. Now ironically, my son is moving to Eretz Yisrael.
I crave to be back there. I relate so much to the inspiring words and pictures from your blog, and feel like a fish, slowly suffocating in the oppressive atmosphere of this gut wrenching galus! I feel it - I mean I REALLY feel it. Every time I leave my house and even when I am sitting in it! Something just doesn’t feel right. I remember so fondly my days in Eretz. Although sometimes frustrating, they were fulfilling, just being there, in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat, wherever, I just felt, well, at home.
I don’t wish to maarich bemilim so I will get the point. I worry SO much about how I will make a living there. The reason being that every time I tell a fellow yid (and I am talking about "frum" Jews here!) in Florida that I wish to make Aliyah, I am greeted with the same old response, as if like a broken record, as follows:
"What do you want to do that for?", "How will you make money there", "How will you support your family?" AND "I know SO many people who went on Aliyah and just couldn’t make it and came back home" etc etc, ad naseum!
But Tzvi, these words affect me, in a negative way, regardless of all the words I read and Torah sources I study to prove conclusively that a Jew has an OBLIGATION to live in Eretz Yisrael, I still have this worry in the pit of my stomach.
I am not wealthy. Indeed I struggle to make a good living here in Florida, BUT I am comfortable, with my wife and new born boy (he is 12 days old today!) and I do make enough money to support them. I worry how I would do the same in Israel. I tell myself not to worry, to be strong and have emuna and bitachon in Hashem, but then I read some other article in the BBC or one of your talkbackers condemning the "evil Jewish state," or talking about the lunacy of Olmert and Israel’s loony left, leading to a path of destruction. I wonder if it is responsible to leave the relative calm of Florida, when at any moment the government of Israel might give away, Jerusalem, the Golan, perhaps even my new home in Israel if I ever could afford one.
As you can ascertain, I am confused and pressured, but a voice inside me years to make the move. Can you offer me any words of advice or chizuk that might help me in my quandary? Is there anything I can do to make things easier, can you assure or reassure me?
I’m not sure what I need, perhaps just a kick in the pants. I hope you can offer some words of wisdom.
Best wishes meantime, and Moed TOV!
Confused Florida Jew
Nissan 18, 5768, 4/23/2008
Relaxing before Shabbat
Nissan 13, 5768, 4/18/2008
Just before my bar mitzvah, the reform “rabbi” of our community explained to us that the Exodus from Egypt was not a miraculous act of Hashem, but rather a freak accident of nature. He said that because of a severe draught, the Red Sea had turned into a sand bar which the Jews crossed on their way out of Egypt. When the pursuing Egyptians arrived at the sand bar, a sudden, freak, torrential downpour of rain caused a flash flood which drowned the Egyptians. Luckily, he said, the Jews had already reached the other side of the sea, but Hashem hadn’t had anything to do with the story.
Miracle or Freak Rainstorm?
I thought to myself at the time, “What a stupid explanation! If that’s Judaism, I don’t want anything to do with it.”
The Test of Emunah
Over the course of writing this blog, I have encountered many examples of chametz that need to be uprooted from our hearts and national psyches. For instance, there are individuals who maintain that aliyah is suicide; or that gay parades in Jerusalem are expressions of freedom; or that the Kabbalah is idol worship; or that Mount Sinai is in Saudi Arabia; or that the Song of Songs is a pornographic ballad; or that the father determines the Jewishness of a baby and not the mother; or that America is the Promised Land; or that women should be free to dress as immodestly as they wish; or that the State of Israel is the work of the devil; or that the Mashiach is a Christian, etc etc etc.
In addition to the bread crumbs, and what we mentioned in our previous blog, this is the ideological and philosophical chametz that needs to be purged from our hearts – the lack of faith in our Sages, which makes idol worship out of our own egotistical, unlearned, and misguided beliefs, like Pharoah who haughtily proclaimed, “Who is Hashem that I should fear him?”
As we burn the chametz this morning, may we all do the t’shuva necessary to free ourselves from the bondage of arrogance within us, and thus forge a stronger, holier, more truthful attachment to G-d.
This year in Jerusalem. Amen.
Nissan 10, 5768, 4/15/2008
Whoever causes the Kabbalah and the wisdom of the inner Torah not to be considered a part of the Oral and Written torah, and causes others not to learn it (the inner wisdom) by saying that there is nothing more to the Torah and the Talmud other than the simple meaning of the text, it is certainly considered as if he had cut off the flow of blessing to the world. It would have been better for him if he had never been born, or ever learned Torah. It is considered as if he returned the world to a state of chaos and void, and brought poverty to mankind, and lengthened the exile of the Jewish People.
This isn’t Tzvi Fishman. This is a quote of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, from the “Tikunei Zohar,” Tikun 44).
When we talk about Kabbalah, we are not speaking about the fake, Kabbalah-For-Hollywood-Stars, that some hucksters try to peddle to the muddled masses, but the genuine Kabbalah as brought down to us by the great Sages of Israel.
Along with the following excerpt from the book, “Secret of the Brit,” is a series of photographs taken over the last two days of the revered elder Kabbalist, Rav Eliahu Leon Levi. On Saturday night, he gave a class at the Kotel on the inner meanings of the Pesach Seder. The last two mornings, he has been giving classes to Torah scholars at his synagogue in Bnei Brak, and handing out money for holiday expenses to married yeshiva students. In addition, he has been distributing truckloads of fruits and vegetables to the needy. Rabbi Leon stresses that along with the standard learning of Torah and Talmud, a serious student must also delve into the inner soul of the Torah by familiarizing himself with the basic tenets of Kabbalah.
Why this night is different
This year in Jerusalem
Our Sages have repeatedly emphasized the necessity of learning the secrets of Torah at the time of Geula.
The holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Chaim Vital, foremost student of the Arizal, emphasizes in his introduction to the “Eitz HaChaim,” that the prolongation of the exile, and all of its sufferings, stem from the fact that the inner secrets of Torah have gone unlearned.
The Gaon of Vilna writes: “This Geula will only come about through the learning of Torah, and the main factor of the Geula depends on the learning of the Kabbalah” (Even HaShelma, 11:3).
Throughout all of his writings, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook stresses the necessity of learning the secrets of Torah at the time of Israel’s redemption:
“The revelation of the secrets of Torah in the last generation, in order to purify the hearts and to fill the minds with noble thoughts, whose source lies in the secrets of Torah, this is an absolute necessity in the last generation to insure the survival of Judaism” (Orot HaKodesh, Part 1, Pg. 141).
In his holy proclamation, “The Great Call,” Rabbi Kook wrote:
“Dear brothers, sages of Torah, and influential scholars! We too acted foolishly and sinned! We studied and researched the sources; we debated the fine points of the Talmud and discovered new insights; we wrote and explained; but we forgot Hashem and His might. We failed to hear the words of the true prophets, the exalted voice of our eternal Sages, to hear the voice of the Tzaddikim (righteous ones) and Hasidim (saintly ones), the Sages of Musar (ethics), and the possessors of the secrets of Torah, who called out and proclaimed in the most strident of voices, that in the end, the river of Talmudic analysis would turn arid and dry if the deep ocean of Kabbalah, and the Torah’s inner understandings, weren’t constantly drawn into the learning – the waters of the knowledge of Hashem, the pristine waters of pure faith which flows from our inner souls, and which stream forth from our life source” (Orot, pg. 101).
Regarding Eretz Yisrael, Rabbi Kook wrote, “Due to the alienation from the recognition of the secrets of Torah, the recognition of the holiness of Eretz Yisrael is perceived in a superficial manner” (Orot, Eretz Yisrael, 2).
Rabbi Kook sums up this same essay in a similar vein:
“We are not coming to negate any conceptualization or understanding that is founded on honest intellectual endeavor, sensitivity of thought, or the fear of Heaven, in whatever form they take – but rather only the viewpoint that seeks to negate the secrets of Torah and their tremendous influence on the spirit of the nation. This is a tragedy that we must battle against with counsel, wisdom, holiness, and valor” (Ibid.).
As we have mentioned on repeated occasions, the greatest secret of the Torah is the secret of the Brit, as the holy Zohar teaches:
“And what is the most exalted secret of the Torah? It is contained in the sign of the holy Brit, which is called the secret of Hashem – this is the holy Brit (Zohar, Bereshit 236b).
It is sometimes thought that when the word Brit appears in the Torah and the Tanach, it is referring to a general covenant between Hashem and the Jewish People. The Zohar, however, makes clear that almost every reference to the Brit means guarding the sexual purity of Am Yisrael. Readers interested in learning about the connection between guarding the Brit and the holiday of Pesach are invited to see the essay, “The Secret of Pesach.”
Rav Leon's Yeshiva in Bnei Brak
Help for the needy
Finest fruits of the Land
Rabbi Levy emphasizes that our search for the pieces of bread in the house on Erev Pesach is much more than a hunt for the last scattered crumbs of chametz, which according to the Kabbalah are symbolic of the scattered souls that were spilled in vain during sexual transgression. These sins, known as transgressions to the Brit, whether it be sex out of wedlock, sex with non-Jews, adultery, sex during the Niddah period, homosexuality, masturbation, and improper sexual conduct between husband and wife, bring terrible punishments upon the Jewish People, may G-d have mercy. Therefore, Rabbi Levi advices that at the time of burning the chametz, everyone do sincere t’shuva (repentance) in this regard, and recite the “Tikun HaYesod Yeshuat Eliahu,” the “Tikun HaClalli,” and the “Tikun HaYesod” of the Ben Eish Chai, to rectify the damage of the past and restore all the lost souls to their holy, celestial source. In this way, a person can sit down at his Seder in a state of purity, liberated from the terrible exile and darkness of sexual sin.
Warning: Those who scoff at this lesson are either unlearned in the inner understandings of the Torah, or have a problem in this area themselves. Readers are cautioned against being influenced by their misleading and unwarranted sarcasm.
Rav Leon's synagogue
Secrets of Pesach
In the Yeshiva
Love your neighbor as yourself
Have a happy and holy Pesach!