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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.
On the day before Yom Kippur, there is a custom which many people practice, called Kapparot, whereby a rooster is waved around one’s head, then slaughtered. Ever wonder why? I’ll give you a hint. Our Sages have warned us not to be like roosters with our wives. A Jew is called upon to sanctify himself, even in matters that are permitted to him. If you enjoy Kabbalah, the Arizal explains this custom in greater detail at the beginning of his discussion of Yom Kippur in the book “Shar HaKavanot.”
In fact, all of Yom Kippur deals with Tikun HaBrit, rectifying our sexual transgressions. You’ll find lots of fascinating insights in the essay, “Yom Kippur and Rectifying the Brit,” posted on our jewishsexuality.com website. If all of these insights are true (and who are we to doubt the Torah wisdom of the Arizal, Rabbi Nachman, the Sfat Emet, and the Chatam Sofer), then why have the majority of us never been taught all of these exalted matters? Perhaps the most diplomatic answer is to be found in the teaching of Kohelet that to everything there is a time (Kohelet, 3:1). In our age of wanton sexual transgression, the time has certainly come.
I would like to take this opportunity to ask forgiveness of any and all readers whom I may have offended. I have tried to present the truth, and nothing but the truth in this blog, always for educational purposes, out of deep love and concern for my brothers, but sometimes the truth hurts. Writing for the Internet is not a simple matter. The audience is so widespread and vast, with so many different types of readers, that you are bound to upset someone. Plus, my style of writing is sometimes very strong, often employing humor and exaggeration for effect, and this may be a little like the famous bull in the proverbial china shop. So, I sincerely ask your forgiveness, and I will strive to be gentler in the future, with an emphasis on adding light, rather than exposing the darkness.
May you and all the Jewish People be inscribed in the Book of Life for a wonderful year of happiness, prosperity, health and shalom.
And pay attention to our very last request at the end of Yom Kippur:
“Next Year in Jerusalem!”
Rabbi Hanan Porat, of blessed memory, studied at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. As a student of HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, he was one of the leaders of the Gush Emunim settlement movement, from the first breakthrough settlements in the Shomron, to the return to Hevron, and the continuing rebuilding of Judea and Samaria. In addition, he was a dedicated teacher of Torah, traveling all over Israel to gives lectures on the Torat HaGoelet, the Torah of Redemption, Torat Eretz Yisrael, spreading the great light of Torah which he had learned at Rabbi Kook’s Yeshiva.
In tribute to his great spirit which surely shines on after his passing, we would like to continuing in his footsteps, by giving others the opportunity to experience the incomparable light of Rabbi Kook’s teachings, by familiarizing readers with a wonderful website dedicated to Rav Kook, www.ravkooktorah.org. The website, created by Rabbi Chanan Morrison, presents a broad spectrum of Rav Kook’s writings, in clear and succinctly explained translations which make Rav Kook’s vision of Redemption accessible to every reader. Also recommended are two important books which present Rav Kook’s insights and thoughts on the Torah portions, “Gold From the Land of Israel,” and on the Shabbat and the Jewish holidays, “Silver From the Land of Israel,” both by Rabbi Morrison. http://www.ravkooktorah.org/book-gold.htm
Here is a short piece about Yom Kippur which appears in both books:
The Ox and the Goat
There are many unique aspects to the Temple service on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. One special feature of Yom Kippur concerns the chatat sin-offerings. On all other holidays, a single sin-offering was brought, from a goat. On Yom Kippur, however, there were two sin-offerings: an ox and a goat.
What is the significance of these two animals, the ox and the goat?
Forgiveness for All Actions
The ox is a symbol of great strength. Oxen were traditionally used for construction and cultivating land. The ox's strength was harnessed to till the earth, to transport goods, and other constructive purposes.
The goat is also a symbol of power — but of a corrosive, destructive nature. The Hebrew word for goat (sa'ir) means to storm and rage. The foraging goat devours the very roots of the plants. Overgrazing by goats leads to land-erosion and destruction of pasture.
Both of these forms of power — constructive and destructive — may be used for positive goals, and both may be utilized for evil purposes. Each has its proper place and time. We use constructive forces to build and advance, and we need destructive forces when dismantling existing structures in order to rebuild and improve. Both types of forces, however, may be abused, causing much sorrow and grief.
The most common need for atonement is when we accidentally hurt or damage. For this reason, the standard chatat offering is the goat, a symbol of blight and destruction.
On Yom Kippur, however, we seek forgiveness for the misuse of all forms of power. Therefore, we offer a second chatat from an ox, the classic beast of labor. With this offering, we express our regret if, inadvertently, our constructive deeds may have been inappropriate or harmful.
(Gold from the Land of Israel, pp. 198-199. Adapted from Olat Re'iyah, vol. I, p. 167)
May this learning, and the learning that readers may glean from the many other illuminating writings in these books and on the ravkooktorah.org website, be a tribute to Rabbi Hanan Porat, may his memory be for a blessing.
Believe it or not, visitor number 1,000,000 to our blog “Hollywood to the Holy Land” was none other than everyone’s favorite talkbacker, Moses Brown from Dimona.
Congratulations, Moses! You have won a non-autographed copy of probably the world’s greatest novel, “Tevye in the Promised Land.” Please choose between the large format, paperback edition, or the just-released Kindle edition.
For all readers who have been following this blog, you too can have the pleasure of reading this award-winning classic of true Jewish literature, which is obtainable at Amazon Books, including the new, low-priced Kindle version.
While I thank Hashem for the success of this blog, and feel very grateful for having the opportunity to spread the wonderful truths of our Torah, I am even prouder in having had the honor of writing “Tevye in the Promised Land.” A blog is a blog, but “Tevye” is a work of art. You can put a message across in a blog, but no blog can compare with the depth, poignancy, drama, and emotional power of a novel.
Rabbi Kook writes that preceding the Redemption of Israel, Jewish writers will do t’shuva, paving the way for the nation to follow: “Literature will be sanctified; the writers too will become holy. The world will be elevated to realize the great and subtle power of literature – the uplifting of the spiritual foundation of the world with all of its prowess… Every writer will not dip his pen without first sanctifying his thoughts before each creation, thoughts of t’shuva, deep meditations of return to our Source. Then the work will come out pure, the spirit of G-d will rest upon it, and the spirit of the entire nation will grace it with holiness” (Orot, Orot HaTechiyah 37).
This is what I have striven to do in my novels. They are works that are filled with t’shuva, with faith, simcha, and great inspiration. For instance, after I made aliyah to Israel, I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving Tevye still standing on the roof in some foreign land with a fiddle in his hand. So I decided to bring him to Israel and give him a shovel and rifle instead. In his unforgettable adventure to become a pioneer building in the Promised Land, Tevye, the Milkman from Anatekva, is put through test after test, just like the Nation of Israel itself, and, clinging to his towering love and faith in G-d, he rises to overcome every challenge and crisis.
So, Moses, I hope you enjoy the book, and I urge all INN readers to get yourselves a copy, and share it with your children, your families, and friends. It’s the best New Year’s gift I can give you for having had the willingness to put up with me on this blog.
May the New Year bring you and all Israel everything good, in health, prosperity, and Torah, and may you and all Israel merit to serve Hashem with everlasting joy in the Land of Israel, the Land that Hashem gazes upon from the beginning of the year to the end.
Fabulous Prize to Tzvi Fishman’s Millionth Clicker
Sometime between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, a lucky blog reader will become the millionth visitor to our blog “Hollywood to the Holy Land.” First, I would like to thank everyone who has participated and helped to make the blog a lively and popular forum. This thank-you also goes out to the great silent majority, who regularly read our postings without sending in talkbacks. I hope you have all gained new insights into Judaism and into our true mission as the Children of Israel.
As you are well aware, we have focused on two primary issues over the years. First, we have tried to make our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora realize that Judaism is much more than eating bagels and lox in Brooklyn, Toronto, London, Melbourne, Mexico City and Timbuktu. Judaism is the living the holy national Torah life of the holy Jewish People in the Holy Land which the Creator of the Universe bequeathed to our forefathers and to us. We are not the Children of America, or the Children of France, or the Children of Germany and Russia. We are the Children of Israel. The Jewish People belong is Israel. The exile is a curse which is meant to come to an end. Baruch Hashem, that end arrived with the establishment of the State of Israel, and it has since become the obligation of every Jew to return home to Eretz Yisrael and do his or her share in the rebuilding of our holy ISRAELI NATION. Diasporinians who are aged, or ill, or who cannot come on aliyah for any valid reason, can do whatever they can to help those who can come, and certainly everyone, including parents, teachers, rabbis, Jewish organizations and the like must totally revamp their agendas to make aliyah education their main goal, with the cry, “Let My Children Go!”
Secondly, we have stressed that the uniqueness of a Jew is in his, or her, holiness, and that this holiness must first and foremost be expressed in our sexual lives, as set down in Jewish Law and the teachings of our Sages. In this area, we were perhaps the first to openly discuss this foundation of Judaism on the Internet, and to warn readers of the very great dangers of Internet surfing, one of the most pernicious destroyers today of our holy Jewish souls.
These two cardinal Torah principles, the mitzvah of living in Israel, and the mitzvah of living a holy life, are emphasized in this week’s Torah portion of “Nitzavim.”
In Israel, come the holiday of “Lag B’Omer, some half a million people journey to Meron, to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, to pay respects to the holy Tzaddik, who brought light to the darkness of the world with the secrets of Torah which he revealed in the “Zohar.” It is told that when the great Torah giant, the “Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh,” made aliyah some two hundred years ago, he journeyed to Meron. When he reached the foot of the mountain, he got down from his wagon and began to crawl up the hill, on all fours, toward the hallowed tomb. His students were amazed. “Rabbi, what are you doing?” they asked. “How can I, a mere creature of flesh and blood, have the arrogance to approach the holy site where this angel of G-d lies in rest?” he explained, proceeding to crawl all the way up the mount to the grave.
Rabbi Shimon spent twelve years in a cave, where he had to hide from the Romans for opposing their conquest of Israel. During that time, Eliahu HaNavi and Moshe Rabbenu appeared to him and taught him the secrets of Torah. One of the secrets they revealed to him was the secret of the Brit, the secret of the Covenant which G-d made with Avraham and the Jewish People, symbolized by the act of circumcision, and sealed on the organ of male reproduction, whereby the Jewish People were to safeguard their sexual purity in return for the gift of the Land of Israel. And thus, we find in this week’s portion, concerning the destruction of the Land:
“When, in the future generation to come of your children who shall rise up after you, and the gentile who shall come from a faraway place, shall say when they see the plagues of the Land, and the sickness which the L-rd has lain upon it… then the nations shall say, ‘Why has the L-rd done this to this Land? What means the heat of this great anger?’ Then men shall say, “Because they have forsaken the Brit of the L-rd G-d of their fathers… (Devarim, 29: 21-27).
The pamphlet we wrote on “Shmirat HaBrit” explains, in words and pictures, this vital fundamental connection between sexual holiness and our possession of the Land of Israel.
Then, the Torah goes on to capsulize Jewish history and state clearly, without any question or doubt, the destiny and goal of each and every Jew, of returning to the true observance of Torah, abandoning the cursed exile, and coming home to Israel:
“Thou shall return to the L-rd your G-d, and shall obey His voice according to all I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul [NO MORE HALF JEWISH AND HALF AMERICAN] , that then the L-rd your G-d will turn your captivity [IN BROOKLYN, TORONTO, AND MIAMI BEACH], and have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from all the nations amongst whom the L-rd has scattered you [AMERICA, AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AFRICA, THE QUEEN’S BRITAIN]… and the L-rd your G-d will bring you into the Land which your father’s possessed [BY GIVING YOU MONEY FOR AN AIRLINE TICKET], and YOU shall possess it” (Devarim, 30, 1-5).
YOU shall possess it!
Not someone else, dear reader. YOU! This is your destiny. This is what you were born for. This is what YOU, as a part of the NATION OF ISRAEL, are commanded to do – “circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all of your soul that you may live” (Devarim, 30:6), by giving up galut, by giving up your easy lives and your gentile colleges, by giving up your make believe American and Australian and German identities, by giving up your comfortable and conveniently erroneous conceptions of Judaism, and BY COMING HOME TO ISRAEL, according to the loud and clear call of the Torah!
That’s what’s written there, my cherished friends. That’s what it says!
And now for the prize! Since I can’t tell precisely who will be the 1,000,000th clicker, the prize will be awarded to the closest talkback entry to the 1,000,000th click. And I am pleased to announce that the prize will be a copy of what may be the greatest Jewish novel ever written, “Tevye in the Promised Land,” for which I won the Israel Ministry of Education Award for Creativity and Jewish Culture.
The Hebrew version of the novel was a big success in Israel. Many people have told me that the cover has fallen off their copies because their teenage children have read it so many times. Just last week, a rabbi told me he finished it for the third time. This week, an acquaintance who spent a week in the hospital called me up to thank me for having written the novel, claiming that the simcha it gave him helped him recover more than the medicines he received. Last Shabbat, when a friend of my 20 year old daughter discovered that I had written the novel, she flipped out, exclaiming that it was her all-time favorite book. Many people have told me that it is the best Jewish novel they’ve read in their lives, which makes it the best novel in the world. Sure, Tolstoy, Dickens, Hugo, Joyce, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Roth all know how to write, but what message do they bring to the world other than Christianity, atheism, assimilation, depression and despair?
So, once again, thank you for having been a part of the journey from “Hollywood to the Holy Land.” I could not have done it without you.