Middle East 6:12 AM 3/7/2014
Inside Israel 12:16 AM 3/7/2014
Inside Israel 5:16 AM 3/7/2014
Life Lessons with Judy Simon
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.
To settle, for once and for all time, the question, “Should a Jew live in Israel today?” an upcoming debate will be held in Jerusalem between the crack team of Arutz 7 Bloggers versus an all-star team of Diaspora Couch Potatoes.
The debate will be held in the Binyune Hauma National Convention Hall on March 10, a month away. Invitations are going out to the Diaspora’s foremost cyberspace Jews, including Mike from Vienna, VA; Shmuelik from Monsey, NY; Roger from Manchester, England; Daniel from Kyoto, Japan; SK from the USA; Shimshon from NYC; Steve Fox from St. Paul; and Rob from the USA.
Israel has been chosen as the debate site since Jewish halachah forbids the Arutz 7 team from leaving the Land of Israel, as the Rambam states: “It is forbidden to leave the Land of Israel at all times to go outside of the Land, except to study Torah, or to marry, or to save a Jew from the gentiles, so long as one’s intention is to return to Eretz Yisrael. It is also permissible to leave temporarily on business, but to settle down in the Diaspora is forbidden, unless there is a severe famine in the Land” (Mishne Torah, Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 5:9).
The Birthright Organization will be asked to sponsor the ticket costs for participants coming from the Diaspora to forestall their financial concerns. Nefesh B’Nefesh will be asked to arrange for their housing during their stay. Participating debaters from the Diaspora must confirm their attendance no later than February 12. Entries not filed by that date will be considered void. Any team that cannot muster three debaters will forfeit the confrontation, and it will be considered an undisputed victory for the opposing debaters.
Names that have been mentioned for the impartial panel of judges include the Former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Meir Lau; Rabbi Martin Heir of the Simon Weisenthal Memorial Holocaust Center in Los Angeles; Natan Sharansky; Henry Kissinger; Yosi Sarid; Edgar Bronfman; and Baruch Marzel.
The debate will be open to the public and will be broadcast worldwide by INN Israel National News.
The moderator of the historic debate is scheduled to be the world famous CNN talk-show host, Larry King.
In response to SK’s hysterical question, which we indeed already addressed at the beginning of this blog and in our book, “Torat Eretz Yisrael,” the indisputable Torah giant, the Gaon of Vilna, had this to say in his famous treatise on Israel’s Redemption, “Kol HaTor,” Chapter Five:
“This sin of the Spies (of misleading the Jewish People against the paramount importance of the settlement of the Land of Israel) hovers over the nation in every generation. How strong is the power of the realm of evil (the Sitra Achre) that it succeeds in hiding from the eyes of our holy fathers the dangers of the impure and evil husk (kelipah) of exile; and in the time of Mashiach, the realm of evil attacks the guardians of the Torah with blinders. Many of the sinners of this great sin of, ‘They despised the cherished Land,’ and also among them many guardians of the Torah, will not know or understand that they are caught in the sin of the Spies, in adopting many false ideas and empty claims; and they cover their ideologies with the already proven fallacy that the mitzvah of the settlement of Eretz Yisrael no longer applies in our day, an opinion that has already been disproven by the giants of the world, the early and later authorities of the Torah (the Rishonim and Achronim).
This understanding is also found in the writings of the holy Torah sage, Rabbi Eliahu Guttmacher, printed in the beginning of the book, “Em HaBanim Semaicha,” Pg 13; also quoted in the Responsa, “Nefesh HaChaya,” of Rabbi Eliezar Vax, at the end of Responsa 1:
“We can see how important this matter is of settling the Land of Israel, so much so that the impure forces (kelipot) attack even the biggest Tzaddikim to negate this great thing. For the whole power of the kelipah depends on the exile. With the cessation of exile, the kelipah comes to an end.”
HaRav Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook, the son of Rabbi Kook and head of the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, was often asked by students how leading Torah scholars could make a mistake in such a serious matter as the Redemption of Israel and the mitzvah of settling the Land? He answered that Gedolim (great Torah giants) and Tzaddikim could also make occasional mistakes, as seen in the opposition of many Eastern European rabbis to Hashem’s returning of the Jewish People to Israel in the years before and after the Holocaust.
In spite of the great reverence that HaRav Tzvi Yehuda felt for all Torah scholars, he wanted his students to understand that even the Sages of Torah can err.
He would explain that the fourth chapter of the book of Vayikra (Leviticus, 4:13) deals with special kinds of sin offerings. Situated between the offerings of a High Priest who sins, and a King who sins, are the laws of the sin offering for the whole congregation. The tractate Horiot explains that this is case where “the majority of the Great Sanhedrin makes a mistake” in deciding the law which causes the majority of the congregation to transgress. We see here that the Torah itself recognizes the possibility that the majority of the greatest Torah scholars can make a mistake.
HaRav Tzvi Yehuda illustrated this with the example of the tragic sin of the Spies who rebelled against Hashem in the wilderness after the Exodus by refusing to continue on to conquer and settle the Land of Israel. They were the outstanding Torah scholars of their time, the heads of the Sanhedrin, the chiefs of the tribes, all important men, yet they erred in placing their personal feelings ahead of Hashem’s command to conquer the Land of Israel, and this brought about a great Divine wrath and the death of the generation in the wilderness (See, “Mesillat Yesharim,” Ch.11, in the discussion on Honor).
Everyone has a choice. He can join the ranks of the Spies and encourage people not to go on aliyah to Israel, nor to settle in all of its borders, or he can join the ranks of Calev Ben Yefuna and Yehoshua Ben Nun and become a builder of the Jewish Nation in Israel.
Any more questions?
“One day Honi HaMe’agel was walking along the road. He saw a man planting a carob tree and asked him in how many years it would bear fruit. The man replied, ‘In seventy years.” Choni asked, ‘Do you think you will live another seventy years?’ The man answered, ‘I found this world with carob trees. Just as my forefathers planted them for me, I am planting them for my descendants,” (Talmud Ta’anit 23A).
The secular kibbutznik in Israel who works all day cultivating his fields may have a higher place in the World to Come than a Daf Yomi Jew from Beverly Hills or Monsey, New York.
In the same light, the following matters may not be understood by many of our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, but I will plant the seeds here in the faith that they will be bear fruit in the future. Perhaps Shmuelik, or Shimshon, or Daniel in Kyoto will leave this blog on their computer screens while they rush off to shul, and one of their children will come by and read it, and discover the truth.
Today in the Land of Israel, we have been happily celebrating Tu B’Shevat, the holiday of the trees. School children sing songs praising the Land of Israel and thanking Hashem for its fruits. Families go on field trips throughout the country. When it is not a Sabbatical Year, saplings are planted with great joy and spirit. And festive meals of thanksgiving, highlighted by a cornucopia of fruits of the Land, grace our tables.
This is all missing in the Diaspora because Diaspora Judaism is missing the Land of Israel. On many occasions, we have mentioned that Judaism can only be complete in the Land of Israel. There are two types of commandments in the Torah – the commandments that are dependent upon the Land of Israel, and those commandments which are not. Every commandment which depends upon the Land of Israel may only be performed in the Land. The other mitzvot can be performed anywhere (Kiddushin 36B). However, the Ramban teaches that the true place of performance for all of the commandments is only in the Land of Israel (Ramban, Commentary on the Torah, Bereshit, 26:5; Devarim, 11:18). Everywhere else, when a Jew performs a commandment, he is merely going through the motions so that he won’t forget how to do them during his exile in foreign lands (Sifre, Ekev, 11:18, and Rashi, Devarim, 11:18. Also, Ramban there).
For those readers who don’t like to look up sources, here is what Rashi says, to show that this seemingly outrageous claim is not merely the mad ranting of Tzvi Fishman.
Rashi quotes the Midrash: “Even though I am exiling you from Eretz Yisrael to outside of the Land, distinguish yourself with the commandments, so that when you return, they will not seem new in your eyes” (Sifre, Ekev, 11:18). Rashi comments: “This is like a king who became angry at his wife and sent her away. He said to her, ‘Wear your jewelry so it won’t seem new to you when you return to the palace.’ Thus HaKadosh Baruch Hu says to Israel, ‘My sons, distinguish yourselves with precepts so that when you return, they won’t be new to you” (Rashi, Devarim, 11:18).
The true, G-d given place for the commandments is in Eretz Yisrael. Their purpose in the exile is to keep us attached to the Torah, so that when we return, they won’t seem unfamiliar and new. But the main place for their performance is in Israel. The Land of Israel is not just our geographical homeland, it is the foundation of all of the Torah and Jewish observance.
During our festive Tu B’Shevat meal, there is an order by which we eat the fruits of the Land. The order is based on the Torah verse, “A Land of wheat, and barley, and grape vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a Land of olive oil, and date honey….” (Devarim 8:8). For instance, after partaking bread (wheat and barley) and wine (grape vines) because of their importance, we first eat the species of fruit that is closest to the word “Land” – which is olives. In a similar light, Rabbi Kook writes that the person who is more engaged in the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel is closer to perfection and closer to receiving a Divine blessing.
Thus it may very well turn out that the secular kibbutznik in Israel who works all day cultivating his fields may have a higher place in the World to Come than a Daf Yomi Jew from Beverly Hills or Monsey, New York, as our Sages have taught us, “The mitzvah of living in Israel is equal in weight to all of the commandments in the Torah,” (Sifre, Reah, 80).
So, to all the kids who are sneaking a look at Daddy’s computer, if Judaism is important to you, and you want the real thing, it can only be found in the Land of Israel. That’s the simple Torah truth, and there is no way of getting around it.