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Ask the Rabbi
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.
Tevet 3, 5768, 12/12/2007
Ever wonder why the whole world goes crazy when a handful of Israeli teenagers put up a cluster of shacks on a barren hillside in Judea and Samaria?
Why should it bother a Frenchman in Paris, a Swede in Stockholm, or a Russian in Moscow? Why should Jews living on the mountains of Biblical Israel make the President of the United States and officials in the State Department pull out their hair?
Obstacle to Peace
We are dedicating this blog to the speedy recovery of Rabbi Moshe Levinger (Rav Moshe ben Tirtza) who suffered a stroke last week, after working days and nights to organize this week’s aliyah to eight new hilltop outposts.
Rav Levinger, the father of renewed Jewish settlement in the city of Hevron, was one of the principle leaders of Gush Emunim and the settlement movement for the last thirty years.
By taking the Land of Israel away from the Jews, the infidels can prove that G-d doesn’t really exist and that the Torah isn’t true.
In an interview just before his stroke, Rabbi Levinger explained that the continuing settlement of Eretz Yisrael was the most important mitzvah of our generation.
“Rabbi Moshe Harlop was one of the closest students of Rabbi Kook. In his book, “Maayanei HaYeshua,” he explains that if you want to know the most important mitzvah for Am Yisrael in any generation, it is the mitzvah that the nations of the world most oppose. In the time of the Hashmoneans, the Greeks made their most forceful decrees against the mitzvot that most highlighted the Jews as a unique holy nation – the commandments of Shabbat, Rosh Hodesh, and Brit Milah.”
This was because the Greeks wanted to impose their unholy Hellenist culture over all of the world. Because their culture celebrated human intellect, physical beauty and hedonist pleasure, they could not tolerate the existence of Judaism which brings G-d into every aspect of life, the spiritual and the physical as well. So they tried to stamp out the commandments that sanctify time and the human body, symbolized by the brit milah. The Greeks wanted to keep the gods in heaven and not be beholden to any holy, all-powerful Divinity here on earth.
“Rabbi Harlop writes that in the time of the footsteps of Mashiach, the mitzvah that the nations of the world most oppose is the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel. This is because in the time of Mashiach all holiness comes to the world through the settlement of the Land of Israel.”
This is because the greatest sanctification of G-d in our time occurs when Jews return to settle the Biblical hilltops of Israel in fulfillment of Divine prophecy. The nations of the world don’t care if Jews build kosher neighborhoods in Monsey, New York or Antwerpen. Jews can keep even Shabbat in Cairo and Teheran. But when a handful of Jews erect a rickety caravan on the hillsides overlooking Shilo, Elon Moreh, or Beit-El, it is an international scandal.
"And you shall know that I am the L-rd when I shall bring you back to the Land of Israel."
This is because the Jewish prophets said this would happen, that Jews would return to these same Biblical hillsides, and its coming to pass means that there is a G-d in the world, an active, living Ruler of heaven and earth, who chose the Nation of Israel to be His messenger to teach the world His commandments and ways. Of course, the nations of the world rise up in protest. It is OK for them to pay lip service to G-d when He is restricted to heaven. But, like the Greeks before them, they don’t want to be bound by His laws here on earth. In their collective conscience, if you get rid of the Jewish settlers, you get rid of G-d. By taking the Land of Israel away from the Jews, the infidels can prove that G-d doesn’t really exist and that the Torah isn’t true. Then they can go about their stealing and murdering and fornicating in peace, without having to worry about Divine retribution.
So in the words of Rabbi Levinger and Rabbi Harlop, “It isn’t a wonder that all the nations of the world want to hinder the resettlement of Israel by the Jews. They place all of their weight and power precisely on this matter.”
And this is the reason, Rabbi Levinger says, that we must continue to build on every barren hilltop. Because the salvation of the world depends upon it. This is how G-d’s Presence returns to the world. Through the resettlement of Israel, G-d makes Himself known and returns to being the #1 superpower reigning over all of the nations. May it be soon.
And may Rabbi Levinger have a complete and speedy recovery, and return to leading the way up the hillsides of our beloved Land.
Kislev 29, 5768, 12/9/2007
The Palestinian Legislative Council has passed the first reading of a bill that would make it illegal to make any concessions on Jerusalem, which would be classified as a crime of high treason.
The bill is expected to win final approval in the coming days. The law states that Jerusalem is a Palestinian, Arab and Moslem city, and that it is totally forbidden to give up or conduct negotiations about any part of the city. Anyone who violates these prohibitions would be prosecuted as a traitor.
Our Sages have told us that while there is no Torah among the gentiles, there is wisdom. We should learn from them on this one. After all, it would seem absolutely natural that the Knesset unanimously pass a similar bill regarding Jerusalem, which is, in truth, a 1000% Jewish Israeli city, and only a Jewish Israeli city. Any Israeli politician who even talks about making concessions over Jerusalem should be prosecuted as a traitor to the State, to the Jewish People, to the Torah, and to G-d. And because a Jewish Jerusalem is vital to the wellbeing of the world as well, he or she should also be tried in Hague as a traitor to the world.
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem
There is in fact a Knesset law of treason forbidden anyone from handing over Israeli land to enemies, but, of course, it was never used against Rabin, Peres, Sharon, and their buddies. The Mishna teaches that a person shouldn’t be discouraged when they see the wicked prosper (Avot,1:7). Their punishment is sure to come. Rabin and Sharon have already been judged in a Higher Court for betraying the Land of Israel. Peres apparently is going to get his full sentence in the world to come. I wonder what is in store for Olmert, Barak, Livni, and Chaim Ramon? And any other Jew who dares to raise a finger against Jerusalem.
Kislev 26, 5768, 12/6/2007
At the center of this month’s Torah readings is Yosef HaTzaddik. The Holy Zohar teaches that Yosef earned the esteemed title of Tzaddik because he guarded the Covenant of sexual purity. This is what brought him to kingship over the world.
“Rabbi Shimon said, ‘It was only after Yosef withstood the test of temptation (with Potiphor’s wife) that he was called Tzaddik. Since he guarded the holy Brit, he was called Tzaddik’” (Zohar,Bereshit 194b).
Day after day, dressed in the most immodest outfits, the wife of Potiphor would approach the young Hebrew slave and beckon him to her quarters. She would whisper seductive things in his ear. Yosef’s test wasn’t just a onetime thing. She kept after him for months on end, doing everything in her powers to cast her spell over him. On that fateful day when she threw herself at him with all of her charms, she made sure that no one else was in the house. The only thing standing between Yosef and the forbidden act was his fear of G-d. His father and family were hundreds of miles away, he was in the prime of his strength, she was the most beautiful and seductive woman in Egypt, and still he resisted.
In praising Yosef’s achievement, the Zohar emphasizes that guarding the Covenant of sexual holiness is like observing all of the Torah, “guarding the Brit is equal in weight with the whole Torah” (Zohar, Bereshit 197a).
We who don’t have same exalted the fear of G-d that Yosef had, where will we summon the strength to overcome the temptation? For us, Divine assistance comes in the form of an anti-porn filter. Thank G-d, there are many on the market. Many can be downloaded for free. So grave is the danger of Internet watching that Torah authorities have ruled that Internet surfing without an anti-porn filter is a violation of the Torah commandment, “Thou shall not put a stumbling block in front of a blind man.”
Erotic pictures on the Internet, whether they be in ads, on the Yahoo home page, or in adult sites, cause a person to violate a long list of Torah commandments, including:
“You shall be holy, for I the L-rd your G-d am holy!”
"Thou shall not follow after thy eyes."
The Kids Get a New Computer
Recognizing the terrible danger of unsupervised Internet viewing has extra significance now, at the time of Hanukah. In our article, “The Secrets of Hanukah,” we explained that it was precisely the Covenant of sexual holiness of the Jewish People that the Greeks sought to pollute. The Covenant between the Nation of Israel and G-d is sealed on our bodies, by the brit milah, emphasizing that G-d also has dominion over this part of our lives. The hedonist Hellenist culture sought to stamp out this holiness and give sensuality and bodily pleasure free reign. Instead of covering the modesty of the body, they celebrated its total exposure, in the promiscuous culture, their bathhouses, their art, and their nude Olympics. Their goal was not to wipe out the Jewish People, but rather to wipe out our connection to G-d. And the method they chose to do this was to force us into adopting their immoral philosophies and ways. For, like the wicked Bilaam before them, they knew that the G-d of the Jewish People despises immorality.
This same strategy is being used by the forces of evil today, via the immoral Greek/Western culture which has engulfed the world and entered into Jewish homes everywhere, with the very same goal of defiling the Jewish People, and severing our holy connection to G-d, may the Almighty have mercy.
So if you haven’t installed a censoring filter on your computer, install one now. Let that be your gift to your children on Hanukah.
Kislev 25, 5768, 12/5/2007
All Jews celebrate Chanukah, including Jews who have assimilated in the gentile lands of the Diaspora, and the most diehard Israeli leftists. This is particularly odd since Chanukah represents everything which they hate - towering Jewish pride, an absolute commitment to Torah, a life of holiness, a vervant longing for the Beit HaMikdash, and a supreme dedication to Eretz Yisrael.
Once again, we will let Rabbi Meir Kahane do the talking:
DOWN WITH CHANUKAH
It is a measure of the total ignorance of the world Jewish community that there is no holiday that is more universally celebrated than the “Feast of Lights,” and it is an equal measure of the intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy of Jewish leadership that it plays along with the lie. For if ever there was a holiday that stands for everything that the masses of world Jewry and their leadership has rejected — it is this one. If one would find an event that is truly rooted in everything that Jews of our times and their leaders have rejected and, indeed, attacked — it is this one. If there is any holiday that is more “un-Jewish” in the sense of our modern beliefs and practices — I do not know of it.
More than an imitation Xmas
The Chanukah that has erupted onto the world Jewish scene in all its childishness, asininity, shallowness, ignorance and fraud — is not the Chanukah of reality. The Chanukah that came into vogue because Jewish parents — in their vapidness — needed something to counteract Christmas; that exploded in a show of “we-can-have- lights-just-as-our-goyisha-neighbors” and in an effort to reward our spoiled children with eight gifts instead of the poor Christian one; the Chanukah that the Temple, under its captive Rabbi, turned into a school pageant so that the beaming parents might think that the Religious School is really successful instead of the tragic joke and waste that it really is; the Chanukah that speaks of Jewish Patrick Henrys giving-me-liberty-or-death and that pictures the Maccabees as great liberal saviors who fought so that the kibbutzim might continue to be free to preach their Marx and eat their ham, that the split-level dwellers of suburbia might be allowed to violate their Sabbath in perfect freedom and the Reform and Conservative Temples continue the fight for civil rights for blacks, Puerto Ricans and Jane Fonda, is not remotely connected with reality.
What happened in that era more than 2,000 years ago? What led a handful of Jews to rise up in violence against the enemy? And precisely who was the enemy? What were they fighting for and who were they fighting against?
For years the people of Judea had been the vassals of Greece. True independence as a state had been unknown for all those decades and, yet, the Jews did not rise in revolt. It was only when the Greek policy shifted from mere political control to one that attempted to suppress the Jewish religion that the revolt erupted in all its bloodiness. It was not mere liberty that led to the Maccabean uprising that we so passionately applaud. What we are really cheering is a brave group of Jews who fought and plunged Judea into a bloodbath for the right to observe the Sabbath, to follow the laws of kashrut, to obey the laws of the Torah. In a word, everything about Chanukah that we commemorate and teach our children to commemorate are things we consider to be outmoded, medieval and childish!
At best, then, those who fought and died for Chanukah were naïve and obscurantist. Had we lived in those days we would certainly not have done what they did, for everyone knows that the laws of the Torah are not really Divine but only the products of evolution and men (do not the Reform, Reconstructionist and large parts of the Conservative movements write this daily?). Surely we would not have fought for that which we violate every day of our lives! No, at best Chanukah emerges as a needless holiday if not a foolish one. Poor Hannah and her seven children; poor Matityahu and Judah; poor well-meaning chaps all — but hopelessly backward and utterly unnecessary martyrs.
But there is more. Not only is Chanukah really a foolish and unnecessary holiday, it is also one that is dangerously fanatical and illiberal. The first act of rebellion, the first enemy who fell at the hands of the brave Jewish heroes whom our delightful children portray so cleverly in their Sunday and religious school pageants, was not a Greek. He was a Jew.
When the enemy sent his troops into Modi’in to set up an idol and demand its worship, it was a Jew who decided to exercise his freedom of pagan worship and who approached the altar to worship Zeus (after all, what business was it of anyone what this fellow worshipped?). And it was this Jew, this apostate, this religious traitor who was struck down by the brave, glorious, courageous (are these not the words all our Sunday schools use to describe him?) Matityahu, as he shouted: “Whoever is for G-d, follow me!”
What have we here? What kind of religious intolerance and bigotry? What kind of a man is this for the anti-religious Hashomer Hatzair, the graceful temples of suburbia, the sophisticated intellectuals, the liberal, open-minded Jews and all the drones who have wearied us unto death with the concept of Judaism as a humanistic, open-minded, non-dogmatic, liberal, universalist (if not Marxist) religion, to honor? What kind of nationalism is this for Shimon Peres (he who rejects the Galut and speaks of the proud, free Jew of ancient Judea and Israel)?
And to crush us even more (we who know that Judaism is a faith of peace which deplores violence), what kind of Jews were these who reacted to oppression with force? Surely we who so properly have deplored Jewish violence as fascistic, immoral and (above-all) un-Jewish, stand in horror as we contemplate Jews who declined to picket the Syrian Greeks to death and who rejected quiet diplomacy for the sword, spear and arrow (had there been bombs in those days, who can tell what they might have done?) and “descended to the level of evil,” thus rejecting the ethical and moral concepts of Judaism.
Is this the kind of holiday we wish to propagate? Are these the kinds of men we want our moral and humanistic children to honor? Is this the kind of Judaism that we wish to observe and pass on to our children?
Where shall we find the man of courage, the lone voice in the wilderness, to cry out against Chanukah and the Judaism that it represents — the Judaism of our grandparents and ancestors? Where shall we find the man of honesty and integrity to attack the Judaism of medievalism and outdated foolishness; the Judaism of bigotry that strikes down Jews who refuse to observe the Law; the Judaism of violence that calls for Jewish force and might against the enemy? When shall we find the courage to proudly eat our Chinese food and violate our Sabbaths and reject all the separateness, nationalism and religious maximalism that Chanukah so ignobly represents? . ..
Down with Chanukah! It is a regressive holiday that merely symbolized the Judaism that always was; the Judaism that was handed down to us from Sinai; the Judaism that made our ancestors ready to give their lives for the L-rd; the Judaism that young people instinctively know is true and great and real. Such a Judaism is dangerous for us and our leaders. We must do all in our power to bury it.
[From the soon-to-be-published, 8 volume collection of articles, “Beyond Words”]
Kislev 24, 5768, 12/4/2007
With the lighting of the Hanukah lights, and the latkes and dreidels and gifts for the kids, the actual story of Hanukah is often overlooked. Most people remember Yehuda the Maccabee, and the miracle of the small cruse of oil, but that’s about it. So let’s take an abridged glance at the “Book of the Maccabees” to see how the saga began.
With the Greek conquest of Eretz Yisrael, the Jews were forced to abandon the Torah and adopt the immoral ways of the foreigners. To win the acceptance and approval of their rulers, many Jews consented to worship idols and bring sacrifices to foreign gods, to leave their sons uncircumcised, and to defile themselves with every kind of licentiousness and perversion. These Hellenist Jews even joined forces with the enemy to hunt out and oppress Jews who kept faithful to the Torah.
“They put to death the women who circumcised their children, hanging the newborn babies around their necks; and they also put to death their families as well as those who had circumcised them. Nevertheless, many in Israel were firmly resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They preferred to die rather than be defiled by food or break the holy Covenant, and they were killed. Great was the wrath that came upon Israel.”
Appalled by the wholesale desecration of G-d and with the desecration of the Temple and Holy City, the holy Kohen, Mattityahu, moved his family to Modin. Greek officers came to Modin to force the Jews to renounce Hashem and sacrifice to foreign gods on their altars. Because of his position of influence and leadership, Mattityahu was chosen by the Greeks to lead the way in defying G-d and his Torah. When a Jew came forward to heed the command, Mattityahu slew him, along with the Greek officer, and pulled down the altar.
“Thus he showed his zeal for the Torah, as Pinchus had done toward Zimri. Then Mattityahu shouted out in a loud voice throughout the town, saying, ‘Let everyone who is zealous for the Torah and who would safeguard the Brit, follow me.’”
Mattityahu and his sons fled to the mountains, followed by all those who remained true to the Torah.
“They mustered an army and slew the (Jewish Hellenist) evildoers in their anger and the (Jewish Hellenist) sinners in their wrath, while the rest fled to the gentiles to save themselves. Mattityahu and his comrades went about and tore down the altars, and circumcised by force as many of the children as they found in the borders of Israel, They pursued the contemptuous (Jewish Hellenists), and the work prospered in their hands. Thus, they rescued the Torah from the hand of the heathen and their kings, and gave no occasion for triumph to the (Jewish Hellenist) sinner.”
“When the days drew near for Mattityahu to die, he said to his sons, ‘Now arrogance and reproach have become strong. This is a time of destruction and anger. My children, be zealous for the Torah, and give your lives in behalf of the Testament of our fathers…. Of the words of a sinful man be not afraid, because his glory shall become dung and worms. Today he may be exalted, but tomorrow he will nowhere be found, because he has returned to his dust, and memory of him will have perished. As for you, my children, be strong and courageous in behalf of the Torah, for through it you will be glorified.”
“Then Yehuda, his son, who was called Maccabee, arose in his stead, and all his brothers helped him. As well as all those who were followers of his father, and gladly they fought Israel’s war. Yehuda spread his people’s glory far and wide. He donned a breastplate like a giant and girded on his weapons of war. He organized battles, protecting his camp with his sword. He was like a lion in his deeds, like a lion’s whelp roaring for its prey. He sought out and pursued those (Jewish Hellenists) who transgressed the Torah, and annihilated those who oppressed his people. Transgressors of the Torah cowered for fear of him. All (Jewish Hellenist) workers of iniquity were thrown into confusion, and deliverance was accomplished by his hand. He went about among the cities of Yehuda, and from it he utterly destroyed the (Jewish Hellenist) evildoers. Thus he turned away wrath from Israel. To the ends of the earth he was renowned, and he brought together those who were ready to perish.”
Hanukah, my friends, is a lot more than eating jelly donuts and lighting candles. Hanukah celebrates the exalted holiness, bravery, and devotion to Torah of Mattityahu and his sons, the most revered and renowned Jewish heroes of all time. Hanukah celebrates our nation’s victory over enemies from within and without. Hanukah celebrates the eternal light and holiness of the Brit between Hashem and the Nation of Israel over the immorality and darkness of the world.
May the same spirit of fearless devotion to Torah rise up amongst us, and may the miracles that happened to our forefathers, in those days, at this time, happen to us today, shattering the darkness that surrounds us and revealing our eternal light!