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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.
Adar Bet 20, 5768, 3/27/2008
I have news for all of the refuseniks who refuse to come to Israel because of its imperfections, and who are waiting for Medinat Yehudah. Medinat Yehudah already exists. It is called Medinat Yisrael.
Just as a parent does not throw a newborn baby into the garbage can because it makes doody and cries in the night, we are not prepared to trash Medinat Yisrael because it has not yet reached it destined maturity. Only a childish, puerile perspective demands that a gigantic, world revolutionizing project like the rebirth of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel be perfect from the start.
L’havdil, a thousand differences, not even America was complete upon its inception. Sixty years after its founding, it was engaged in a horrendously bloody Civil War to abolish the institution of slavery. Yes, after sixty years of Israeli independence, we still have secular Hellenists running the government, but that will naturally change as the population becomes more religious. Already the Land of Israel is by far the Torah center of the world, with more Torah scholars and Torah institutions than anywhere else. After waiting for this baby for nearly 2000 years, we have the patience and maturity of thought to wait a few more years if need be, knowing that the G-d of Israel is calling the shots, and that the spiritual revolution will come.
And now, a few words about the inane blabber of establishing Medinat Yehudah in the area of Judea and Samaria. This proposition comes clearly from a person who has never even visited Israel. The Jewish population in Judea and Samaria lives in scattered settlements, distant one from the other, each one surrounded by Arab villages and cities. While we favor the expulsion of all Arabs from Eretz Yisrael, the notion of transfer is not presently realistic, and will not be until the great spiritual revolution, or until all the refuseniks come home. In the meantime, assuming that all of the remaining unsettled lands of Judea and Samaria could be transferred to Medinat Yehudah, it would still be inundated with Arabs. Furthermore, the settlements to the north and south of Jerusalem would be totally separated from each other by the Holy City itself, which for the time being is in the hands of Medinat Yisrael. In other words, the settlements of Medinat Yehudah would be absolutely indefensible. Without the presence of Tzahal, it would be slaughter for the settlers, no matter how many rifles they had. And any notions that Medinat Yisrael would agree to defend this new Jewish neighbor are totally unfounded in reality. The “Israelis” don’t want us to be there in the first place, why risk their lives to defend the fanatic settlers of Medinat Yehudah once it becomes an entity of its own?
Besides being militarily unfeasible, Medinat Yehudah would have no viable economy, no water and electric of its own, no allies, not even Jerusalem for a capital. Is this to be our dream of 2000 years – a Jewish State without Jerusalem?
In short, Medinat Yehudah is a lot of Swiss cheese, dressed up in a fancy wrapping, but shot full of holes. If this wasn’t cyberspace, writing about it would be a waste of paper. G-d has given us Medinat Yisrael, and the truly brave among us are working to make it a better, more Jewish place, little by little, as our Sages have taught, that the Redemption of Israel comes slowly, just like the morning dawn.
The darkest hour is just before the dawn
Adar Bet 19, 5768, 3/26/2008
As if Israel doesn’t have enough problems with a host of savage enemies, a government of corrupt and mediocre politicians, and millions of Jewish refuseniks who refuse to give up the exile, now there is no rain. The water level of the Sea of Galilee is very low, and farmers are bracing for a dry and economically disastrous summer.
Kinneret low water level
So last night, I joined the holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, and several dozen students, aficionados, and even journalists in a journey to Meron for an all-night prayer-fest in the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the holy Zohar. On the way, we stopped in Safed for a purifying midnight mikvah in the freezing, mountain-spring cave of the Ari. Since the winter has passed without very much rain, our supplications were focused on unclogging the heavenly pipes that have been damaged through sexual transgression, especially, the Rabbi said, the brazen gay parade that was held in Jerusalem earlier in the year and the abominable perversions that went with it.
Who is the smiling face?
Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi
The Talmud teaches that the power over rain is one of the three keys that the Almighty has kept for Himself - the key of Rain, the key of Childbirth, and the key of the Resurrection of the Dead” (Taanit 2A).
Before exploring the connection between transgression and rain, this concept of keys must be explained. Since G-d rules over everything, what is the meaning of retaining three keys for Himself? The answer is that in establishing His sovereignty over the world, G-d has appointed celestial messengers to rule over different aspects of existence. For example, G-d Himself rules exclusively over the Land of Israel, but over every other country, He has appointed an angel. This celestial minister gives each nation its distinctive culture. Thus, the celestial minister over France is, figuratively speaking, a connoisseur of women’s fashion and perfume; the celestial minister over England prefers rugby and gin; and the angel which presides over America enjoys beer, hot dogs, and watching sports on TV.
The Ramban explains that this is the concept behind the Talmud’s striking proclamation that leaving the Land of Israel to live in the Diaspora is like worshipping idols (Ketubot 110B). Since G-d has appointed celestial ministers to rule over the nations, when a Jews prays or learns Torah in Paris or New York, his prayers and Torah learning go up via the angel who presides over that nation, strengthening the foreign country where he lives. In this sense, his worship of G-d is like idol worship, since he is not serving G-d directly. It is only in the Land of Israel, where, "The Land where eyes of our L-rd are always upon it from the beginning of the year to the end” (Devarim, 11:12), that a Jew serves the L-rd without a celestial go-between (Ramban, “Commentary on the Torah,” Vayikra, 18:25).
Hitchhiking on to Safed
Because the key of rain is in G-d’s keeping, when rain does not fall in Eretz Yisrael, we know that G-d Himself has turned off the faucet. It isn’t some freak disturbance of regional weather patterns, but, as the Talmud teaches, the result of our sins:
“Rabbi Tanchum ben Hamilai said, No rain falls unless the sins of Israel have been forgiven” (Taanit 7B). The Talmud goes on to list many transgressions that cause the withholding of rain, but to understand the secret of the matter, we will turn to the holy Zohar.
It turns out that the secret is no mystery at all, as it explicitly states in the Shema:
“Take heed to yourselves, that your heart not be deceived, and you turn aside and worship other gods and bow down to them; and then the anger of the L-rd will be inflamed against you, and He will shut up the heaven that there be no rain, and that the Land yield not its fruit; and you perish quickly from the good Land which the L-rd gives you” (Devarim, 11:17).
The Zohar explains that bowing down to other gods means sexual transgression. Jews never believed in idols, but only worship them as an excuse to practice the sexual licentiousness that accompanied pagan rites. In punishment for misusing the “lower waters” of the seminal life force during sexual sin, G-d shuts up the heavenly “upper waters” of life sustaining rain (Zohar, Bereshit 189B). This relationship occurs specifically in the Land of Israel, because G-d’s covenant bequeathing Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish People, symbolized in the brit milah, is based on sexual holiness.
After leaving Meron, we returned to Safed to pray at the gravesites of the Arizal and the Ramak, Rabbi Moshe Cordevero, who was dean of the Safed academy of Kabbalists, immediately preceding Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, the Ari. The Ramak explains that the heavens are associated with the “sefirah” or spiritual channel “Tiferet.” From here, the Divine blessing of rain flows forth to the earth, identified with the sefirah of “Malchut.” The channel that conducts the blessing of rain from Tiferet to Malchut is the “Yesod,” associated with the atmosphere between heaven and earth. Therefore, when the channel of Yesod is damaged, rains are withheld from the earth. Since the sefirah of Yesod also parallels the sexual organ of the Brit in man, it follows that sexual transgression causes the greatest damage to the channel of Yesod, drying up the flow of G-d’s blessing and rain (See the commentary on the Zohar, “Matok M’Dvash,” Vayashev, 189B).
Readers who are interested in exploring this concept further are encouraged to read the condensed online introduction to our book, “Secret of the Brit.”
After our visit to Safed, we journeyed on to Tibrias, where we prayed at the tombs of the Rambam and Rabbi Meir Bal HaNess.
Tomb of the Rambam
Rav Leon at the tomb of the Rambam
At the tomb of Rabbi Meir Bal HaNess
Readers who would like to refresh their memories about proper marital relations are advised to read Rabbi Levy’s guidelines, “Keys to a Holy Marital Union.” May we all endeavor to mend our sexual lapses, and may the Almighty have compassion upon us and grant us the blessing of rain, as it says, “And G-d saw their deeds, in that they turned from their evil way” (Yonah, 3:10).
Adar Bet 17, 5768, 3/24/2008
I’m waiting in a stopover in the Brussels airport on my way to LA to sign a writing contract for the development of the new sit-com called “Susie the Hairdresser.” Before I left Israel, my Hollywood agent called once again saying that he had received an offer from the California Kabbalah Meditation and Health Center. They are willing to pay me $10,000 to sit one day a week in their center so that people can touch my beard. Apparently, they intend to hide transparent, fiber glass wires in my beard so that people will feel an electric current when they touch it, so that the center can advertise its healing powers.
But what I want to share with you here is the strangest thing. It happened at the Ben Gurion Terminal just as I was waiting to board the airplane. Suddenly, an old man appeared beside me and said, “Whatever you do, don’t eat a bagel.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“You’ll fall asleep for 2000 years.”
Before I could ask him why, the line surged forward, and I had to show my boarding pass to get on the plane. When I looked back, the old man was gone.
Once we were in the air, I had time to ponder the meaning of the unexpected encounter. If truth be known, ever since I had accepted the offer to come to Hollywood, I had been craving to eat a bagel. Not a fake Israeli bagel, but a real Jewish American bagel. True, in Israel, we have the Kotel, and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron, and the Sea of Galilee, and the holy gravesites of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochair anf the Arizal, to cite but two. But we don’t have real bagels. With all of our Israeli know-how, we have never been able to come up with a real Jewish New York bagel. And here I was dreaming about chomping into a real, fat tasty American bagel when a mysterious old man approached me with his chilling warning, that if I ate one, I would go to sleep for 2000 years.
Flying over the Mediterranean Sea, I suddenly realized what he was saying. 2000 is about the time we have been in exile, living in foreign lands. Now the countries of the Diasporas may be very enjoyable places, like the taste of a bagel, but something is missing. Diasporas can come in all sorts of flavors, just like plain, and sesame, and onion, and whole wheat bagels, but they are all empty in the middle. The center, the Land of Israel, is missing! Diasporas have synagogues, and Shabbat, and kashrut, and yeshivas, but the center, the redemptional focus, and national component of Judaism are missing. Without the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, and a Jewish calendar and army and government, and all of the mitzvoth that apply n the Land, and children who grow up speaking Hebrew, the Judaism of the Diaspora is a hollow Judaism. Just like a bagel, the outside ring is tasty, but the center is gone. That’s why Jews in the Diaspora have fallen asleep for 2000 years. Like a bagel, the Judaism of the Diaspora has all the surrounding trappings, but it is missing its heart. When you relish the bagel and don’t notice the hole, then you’re sleeping. You're pretending. You are deluding yourselves into thinking that the circumference is the whole. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem.” The Judaism of the Diaspora is a Bagel Judaism, or Bagelism. That was the old man’s message.
The Forbidden Bagel
I don’t know about you, but I’m not taking any chances. To hell with the money and all the phony Kabbalah centers. I’m flying back to Israel today!
Adar Bet 16, 5768, 3/23/2008
Last night, my former agent called from Hollywood. He found me a gig writing a new TV sit-com, temporarily called “Susie the Hairdresser.” I get a guaranteed 3 million dollars, spread over three years, even if the show never gets on the air. So I’m moving back to LA.
I’ve already told Baruch Gordon that he can have his job back. Why should I work at Arutz 7 for 2000 bucks a months, when I can earn a million a year? Plus, Mike is right - living in Israel is dangerous.
To tell you the truth, there are a lot of advantages in living in the States. For one thing, my kids won’t have to go into the army. Why should they? I’m an American citizen. Why should they have to put their lives on the line for Israel? And the Jewish Day School in LA is one of the best, with discounts on family golf and tennis memberships. True, the Federation swimming pool is mixed, but I just won’t look at the women, and I’ll tell my boys the same.
I’ve promised my wife that we’ll move back to Israel when the Israelis get their act together, when there is peace, when the country is ruled by a Torah government, when you can make as much money as you can in the States, and when Moshiach comes, may it be soon. In the meantime, I’ll do my share in rebuilding the Jewish Homeland by clicking onto Arutz 7 and sending in hard-hitting talkbacks. And I’ll be sure to send a check now and then to the suckers I’m leaving behind.
So, things have come full circle. Good-bye Holy Land. Hello Hollywood. I’m not ashamed. There is a lot of important work to be done in the Diaspora, like making sure the local Jewish Little League has all the equipment it needs, and maybe I’ll open a Kabbalah Nightclub on Sunset Strip to keep my hand in kiruv.
So long INN. Thanks for all the good times. I’ll miss the Kotel, but the shul we’ll be joining has a wall with styrofoam Western Wall boulders that look just like the real thing. I suppose I’ll miss G-d too, but friends back in LA assure me that I’ll get over that feeling in no time.
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Adar Bet 16, 5768, 3/23/2008