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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.
Nisan 1, 5767, 3/20/2007
KABBALIST WARNS OF WAR
The Rabbi and students were gathered at the Kotel for a special Rosh Chodesh prayer. "In the month of Nisan, we were redeemed in the past, and in the month of Nisan, we will be redeemed now," he said. "This time, the army of Israel will have the upper hand, and it will bring honor to the Nation of Israel by obliterating our enemies."
Rav Eliyahu Leon Levi
Rabbi Levy said that everyone should recite Tehillim and work on repentance. He criticized the yeshiva world for not sending groups of top students to kibbitzim and non-religious neighborhoods to bring them closer to Torah. "If a fire breaks out amongst the weeds, it spreads to the haystacks as well," he warned, implying that when misfortune falls, both the wicked and righteous are engulfed in the flames. He also lamented over the plague of immodesty in the Holy Land, saying it was the prime cause of the dangerous decree hanging over our heads.
Adar 28, 5767, 3/18/2007
HOLINESS OF THE MARITAL UNION
"Rabbi Shimon said: Woe to the man who says that the Torah comes to teach tales of this world and to speak about ordinary affairs. If that were so, even today, we could create a Torah dealing with ordinary matters that would be far superior. But this is not the case. For all the words of the Torah are concerned with exalted matters and celestial secrets....
"The stories of the Torah are only her worldly garments, and whoever thinks that this worldly attire is the Torah itself, and not something deeper, may his soul be obliterated – he will have no portion in the world to come. For this reason, David said, "Open mine eyes, that I may see the wonders of Your Torah" (Tehillim, 119:18), meaning the things that are beneath the Torah’s worldly garment.
"In the very same way, the Torah has a body made up of the commandments of the Torah, which are called the body of the Torah. This body is dressed up in garments that are the stories of this world. The fools of the world only see the garment, the worldly narration. They do not know anything more, nor do they look beneath this outer garment. Those who understand more, do not look just upon the garment, but on the body that is under the garment. The Sages, the servants of the exalted King, those who stood on Mount Sinai, peer down to the soul, which is the principle thing of them all, and this is the real Torah. In the future, they are destined to gaze into the soul of the soul of the Torah" (Zohar, Bamidbar 152b).
More than any other subject, the Torah repeatedly elaborates in Torah portion after portion, on the detailed construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). This unusual repetition is especially perplexing when we remember that the Mishkan, was to be a temporary structure until the building of the Beit HaMikdash in Jerusalem.
Obviously, there is more here than meets the eye. Indeed, the Zohar teaches that the Mishkan contains the blueprint for all Creation. It is the point of union of heaven and earth, designed to unite the Shechinah and the Holy One Blessed Be He. In Kabbalistic terms, the service of the Jewish People in the Mishkan parallels the marital union. This is symbolized by the keruvim, the male and female figures on top of the ark that would seem to couple in a loving embrace when G-d was pleased with the Jewish People. Thus, in the supplication following the Tikun HaYesod prayer, "Yeshuat Eliahu," Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi has written:
"Blessed L-rd, may I merit to truthfully keep the laws of family purity, and not play games with my mind, by giving in to all sorts of temptations, by saying, ‘This is permitted, and this isn’t really that forbidden.’ For behold, we have seen what the Torah has said regarding the ideal marital union, ‘And the men came upon the women’ (Shemot, 35:22), and not, Heaven forbid, in any other way, which bring about upside down couplings, causing severe judgments and increased suffering in the world."
In other words, according to the Kabbalah, the missionary position, with the man on top, facing downward, and the woman lying on her back, facing up, is the proper position for marital relations. Rabbi Levi writes: "This way of performing the marital union is the preferred and most perfect way, the way of the Torah, called "panim b’panim," and not in other positions, as stated in some books whose authors have not reached the path of truth, and wrote differently. In so doing, they have spread out a snare for all the Jewish People, and they cause them to sin and bring about the corruption of the precious soul of the Jewish People, and cast them into a cavernous pit, may Heaven have mercy."
Readers interested in learning more about the holiness of marital relations are encouraged to read Rabbi Levi’s guidelines in greater depth. The Torah commands the Jewish People to be holy, and, whether we like it or not, our holiness starts right here.
Adar 26, 5767, 3/16/2007
Here is a short story for your reading pleasure. From my book,
“Days of Mashiach.”
ON EAGLES' WINGS
“We'll go to Israel when the Moshiach comes,” he insisted. “Meantime, our life is here.”
This day, as always, Mervyn Levy woke up at six, in time to catch the morning minyan. For over fifty years, he had said the same morning prayer, “Modeh ani... I render thanks unto You, living and everlasting King....”
Quietly, so as not to disturb his sleeping wife, he rose out of bed and tiptoed to the bathroom to wash. It looked like another splendid South African day. Light filtered in from the bathroom skylight and sparkled over the hanging ferns and marble counters. Birds chirped happily outside. The only reminder of trouble was the faint aroma of smoke blowing in through the window.
Mervyn dried his hands with a soft, monogrammed towel. The reflection in the mirror was mildly depressing – darkening bags under his eyes and a paler shade of grey in his hair. He adjusted the black skullcap on his head, ran an electric shaver back and forth over his suntanned face, and stepped outside the bathroom to say the morning blessings.
Gunshots sounded in the distance as he dressed. Away from the aroma of soap in the bathroom, the smell of the fires was stronger. He gazed out of the mansion's second story window to make sure everything was quiet around the high-voltage fence which surrounded the house. The Doberman and German Shepherd snoozed peacefully out on the lawn, not bothering to lift up their heads as Johnson, the white security guard, walked by on his rounds. In the distance, the cloud of smoke which had blackened the Johannesburg sky for the last three days looked ominously closer.
Mervyn walked into his upstairs study. Volumes of holy Jewish texts, many worn with use, filled the shelves of his library. Plaques and certificates which he had received for a lifetime of philanthropy and fundraising covered the walls. Mervyn turned on the radio and tuned in on the chimes of the BBC News.
The announcer's polite British accent belied the gravity of his report. In Johannesburg, the rioting blacks had overtaken the President's residence, and were holding him captive until their demands for a rebel government were met. The eastern district of the city was ablaze from the night's rioting, and masses of rampaging “shocks” were heading toward the northern suburbs, battling soldiers with the rifles that Marxist subvertists had smuggled into the country.
The announcer's calm, civilized reporting continued. The rioting tribes were overpowering the South African soldiers with the sheer force of their numbers. To Mervyn's chagrin, they were progressing toward the suburbs of the affluent whites. The airport road was still open, and thousands of citizens were fleeing the country each hour. All highways entering the city were open, but motorists were being advised to drive elsewhere.
Mervyn switched the station to Radio South Africa. The voice of the Defense Minister was typically cool, promising to bring the situation under control. Other than that, the world stock market was active, and South African sugar cane was selling well in France and England.
Mervyn walked across the hallway to his son's empty bedroom. The view from the boy's window looked out toward the city. Beyond the sparkling blue swimming pool and tennis court, smoke billowed in the air over the Johannesburg skyline. The twenty-year-old youth was in Israel, and Mervyn never stopped worrying about his safety. He had left home, contrary to his father's wishes, to study in a Yeshiva in the volatile West Bank. While Mervyn was pleased that the boy was learning, he feared that the impressionable lad would come under the influence of some radical rabbi and decide not to come home. Their daughter, too, was in Israel, volunteering on a religious kibbutz. Every day, the first thing the Levys looked for in the newspaper were the reports from the Middle East. Both he and his wife were terrified that their children would be the victims, G-d forbid, of an Arab attack. Every week, in letters and phone calls, Mervyn urged the kids to come home. Gazing about the boy's room, he felt it was hopeless. Pictures of Israeli warplanes and tanks covered the walls, alongside posters of Masada and Jerusalem. Looking at them made Mervyn uneasy. He had never been a Zionist. He loved the Holy Land itself, and he donated money to several religious schools in Jerusalem, but he could never support a government in Israel which didn't uphold the laws of the Torah. In addition, the Israelis hardly behaved like a civilized people, and a decent living couldn't be found. It would take the Almighty Himself, or at least the Mashiach, to bring him to Zion. This was what his rabbis had taught.
The black cook and the houseboy were nowhere in sight as Mervyn walked downstairs to the kitchen. He picked up the phone and dialed the synagogue. Since the outbreak of the rioting, before driving over to pray, he called to check that the road was all clear. As he waited for an answer, an explosion in the distance shook the foundations of the house.
“Hallooo,” said a deep African voice at the other end of the wire.
“Who is this?” Mervyn asked.
“It ain't the rabbi,” the voice, like jungle drums, answered.
Mervyn could hear the laughter of “shocks” in the background.
“I want to speak to the shamash,” Mervyn demanded.
“You're next, Jew,” the ugly voice said and hung up the phone.
Mervyn's wife appeared in her bathrobe and slippers. “What was that explosion?” she asked.
“The rioting,” he answered.
“What's the matter?” she asked, noticing his pale white complexion.
“They've taken over the shul!”
“Oh my G-d, no,” she gasped.
It was practically their personal synagogue. Mervyn had donated the money to build it.
“How do you know?” she asked.
“One of them answered the phone.”
Rose Levy walked to the window. The dogs were up and around now, racing along the perimeter of the fence, jittery from the explosion. Their noses pointed in the air, sniffing at the ashes in the wind.
“Where are the servants?” she asked.
“I haven't seen them,” Mervyn said.
He opened the window and called to the security man whose company guarded the house day and night. His report confirmed Mervyn's suspicions. The servants had left with their suitcases and Mervyn's Mercedes early that morning. Sure enough, when the Levys checked through the house, several radios, cameras, and pieces of silver were missing, along with the valuable car.
“It's like rats leaving the sinking ship,” Rose said. “If we were smart, we would leave too.”
“Nonsense,” the businessman answered.
“There's nothing here for us now,” his wife insisted.
“What are you talking about? Our whole life is here. Our house, our friends, my business.”
“Most of our friends have left the country,” she argued. “Our house is like a palace that no one comes to visit. You can't even get to work. They've taken over the synagogue, and our children are six-thousand kilometers away in Israel. Oh, Mervyn, let's join them.”
She looked at him pleadingly.
“We will join them when G-d wants us to,” he said.
“Please, Mervin. We have all the money we need. Even if we can't take it all out of the country, so what? Who cares about the business? Who cares about the house? I want to be close to our children.”
Mervyn didn't answer. He was tired of discussions about living in Israel. In a matter of hours, the riots would be squelched, and life would return to normal.
He retreated to his study to phone the police. Until the authorities drove the “shocks” from the shul, he wouldn't be able to daven. He didn't have his tefillin at home. They were in the cabinet in shul where he left them each day after the morning prayers.
Finally, the police station answered.
“Hallooo,” the same deep tribal voice said.
“Police?” Mervyn asked.
“That's right. This is the pooolice.”
Immediately, Mervyn hung up. The police station was less than a kilometer away from his house. Quickly, he opened his wall safe and pulled out two guns. His wife watched from the doorway. He had taught her to shoot in the range he had built in the basement.
“Please, Mervyn, please, take me to Israel,” she urged.
“We'll go to Israel when the Moshiach comes,” he insisted. “Meantime, our life is here.”
He placed a heavy Magnum in her hand. Unable to face the look in her eyes, he turned away and dialed the security services. He breathed easier when a white voice answered the phone. Mervyn requested that two additional guards be sent to his house, but they didn't have a single man free.
“I'll pay you double,” he offered.
“Not even triple,” the man said. “We are all hired out.”
Two other security services told him the same. Finally, he managed to hire an extra guard for one-thousand rand a day.
“I thought you had brains,” his wife said. “But this is committing suicide. Is that what G-d wants?”
“G-d wants us to trust in Him, and He'll take care of the rest.”
Just then, the telephone rang. It was a collect call from Israel.
“It's Jerry,” Mervyn said. Rose ran to pick up the phone in the kitchen.
“Hello, Jerry. Can you hear me?” Mervyn yelled.
“Shalom, Dad,” the boy answered.
“Where are you?” his mother asked.
“In the yeshiva.”
“Thank G-d you're all right,” the mother said.
“Why shouldn't I be all right? It's great here. But I hear you have problems. Why don't you pack up and come to Israel?”
“Nonsense. Everything is fine here,” Mervyn insisted.
Just then, a bullet shattered the living-room window. A sliver of glass grazed Mervyn's cheek. Instinctively, Mervyn dropped down to the floor.
“I'm worried about you, Dad. I heard on the radio that the rioting is getting worse.”
“You're mother and I are fine,” Mervyn replied.
Drops of blood trickled over the telephone. A bullet hole graced the oil painting on the far wall. “How is your sister?” he asked.
Jerry said she was fine. They had spent Shabbat with each other in Jerusalem. Interference on the line jumbled the rest of his answer.
“Jerry, do you hear me?” Mervyn shouted. “You're mother is sick with worry about you two. We want you both to come home.”
“Israel is my home,” the youth said.
Before Mervin could argue, the connection was lost. Rose found her husband sitting on the floor, wiping the blood off his cheek.
“Sweetheart, what happened?” she asked in alarm.
Her husband didn't answer. He crawled across the room and switched on the radio. According to the latest report, the Defense Minister had fled the country. The revolting tribes had taken over the Union buildings, and a fierce battle was being fought at the airport.
“Please, Mervyn, let's leave the country right now,” Rose beseeched.
“We'll go when G-d takes us,” he answered.
He reached for the telephone and dialed the security service to find out why the new guard hadn't come.
“Hallooo,” the voice answered.
Trembling, Mervyn hung up the phone.
“I'm going to pack,” his wife said.
Mervyn raised his head to the window in time to see the security man, Johnson, open the front gate and run off. The guard dogs ran off down the street after him. The cloud of smoke was closer now, only a few streets away. Quickly, Melvyn ran downstairs, unbolted the heavy front door, and raced outside to relock the gate. Like a soccer forward, he scampered back into the house, triple-locked the door, and raised the voltage of the electric fence. Suddenly, a voice called out from outside the house.
“Levy? Are you in there?”
Mervyn peeked out the window. An army jeep was parked at the gate. A soldier held a megaphone to his lips.
“Shalom, Levy,” the soldier shouted. “An airplane is waiting to take you to Israel. We're from the Israeli army.”
“Go away,” Mervyn yelled back.
“We have orders to evacuate all Jews from the area,” the soldier replied.
“Orders from whom?”
“Orders from the Prime Minister of Israel.”
“I take my orders from G-d,” Mervyn yelled back.
Angrily, he closed the windows and shutter.
“It may be our only chance,” his wife said. She stood beside their suitcases, all packed to leave.
“It's the Satan,” Mervyn mumbled.
He strode past her, and returned upstairs to his study. Determined to carry on as usual, he opened the business file he had been reviewing the previous night. If he couldn't drive to his office, he would continue to work at home. In a few hours, the South African army would have the situation under control. Nervously, he reached over and switched on the radio.
“Hallooo,” the jungle voice said. “AMANDLA! The people will govern!”
Mervyn switched off the set. He picked up the telephone, but the line was dead. Rose stood staring at him from the doorway. They had been married for thirty years. Before she could speak, a great rumble, like thunder, sounded outside the house. Lightning seemed to flash in the sky. The lamp in the room blinked off and on. Melvyn rushed to the window. A tank had smashed through the electric security fence. It parked in the yard, leaving a trail of trenches in the manicured lawn. The tank hatch flipped open, and another soldier appeared.
“Levy!” he called through his megaphone.
Mervyn stared out the window.
“Let's go with them,” Rose pleaded, appearing at his side.
“No,” he answered adamantly.
“Levy! We've come to take you to Israel. The roads are all closed. It's your last chance.”
“I'll go to Israel when G-d comes and takes me,” Mervyn yelled out. “Now get off of my property!”
The soldier shook his head and dropped down out of sight into the tank. The hatched closed. The tank lurched into gear, spun a neat circle, and drove off, chewing up more of the Levy front lawn.
“Why, Mervyn?” his wife asked with tears in her eyes. “Tell me why.”
“G-d won't betray us,” he answered. “He'll send the Mashiach. The Almighty will answer our prayers.”
Rose thought he was wrong, but she didn't know what to say. She loved him. She admired his earnest belief. But she was frightened. She didn't possess his ardent convictions. Her husband was ready to die for his religious convictions – hers were less strong. She wanted to be with her children, to see them married, to see them have babies of their own.
An explosion shook the mansion. The gas burner in the villa down the street had blown up, and the three-story home was ablaze. Rose looked out the window. Rebel soldiers were converging from every direction.
“They're coming!” she said.
Mervyn handed her more bullets.
“What good will these do?” she asked. “There are thousands of them.”
“We'll have to shoot as many as we can. Maybe we can scare them away.”
Another roar shook the house. This time it came from above. A ferocious wind stripped the leaves off tree branches outside. Mervyn rushed to the staircase leading up to the roof. He swung open the metal door. A gust almost knocked him over. An army helicopter hovered above the house. A Star of David was painted on its tail. A rope ladder unravelled in the sky and dropped down to the roof. Once again, a soldier held a megaphone to his lips.
“Let's go, Levy,” he called. “This is your final chance.”
“Please, Mervyn, please,” Rose said, pulling at his arm. She grabbed a hold of the swaying ladder and tried to drag him toward it. “If not for my sake, for the sake of the children.”
“Levy, hurry!” came the call from above.
Mervyn didn't answer. He stood on the rooftop, praying. “Please, G-d, come and save us. Please, G-d, come and save us,” he repeated again and again.
Rose couldn't budge him. The blacks were running up the street. Within moments, they would reach the mansion.
“Climb up the ladder!” the soldier ordered.
Mervyn ignored him. He continued to pray. Beside him, the ladder jerked out of Rose's grasp.
“Mervyn!” she yelled at her husband. “Open your eyes! G-d sent you a jeep. Then a tank. Then a helicopter. What more do you want?”
Gunshots whistled through the air. The helicopter flew up and away. The blacks were charging into their yard now. They smashed into the house.
“They're coming! They're coming!” Rose hysterically shouted, but her husband continued to pray.
He saw them burst onto the roof. He saw them grab his wife before she could shoot. He heard her wild scream. They slammed the metal door, trapping them with no hope of escape. Mervyn didn't even raise his gun. He only kept praying. Even when they grabbed him, he still kept on praying for the Almighty to save them. A black arm grasped him around the neck. As the air left his body, he closed his eyes and heard Hebrew voices.
“I must be going to heaven,” he thought.
Then, once again, he felt a great whirlwind around him and heard the roar of a thundering chariot. A commotion of voices burst out all around him, all speaking the sacred tongue. He opened his eyes expecting to see a vision of angels and the gates of Gan Eden, but he was still on his roof.
It was the blacks who were shouting in Hebrew!
“They're Ethiopians!” he realized. “Jews!”
Sure enough, they were Israelis! A special team which the Mosad had sent to rescue the South African Jews!
The helicopter swooped back over the house, dangling a rope through the air. Two heavy vests landed on the rooftop with a thud.
“Maher! Quickly,” one of the black soldiers ordered.
Forcefully, he strapped a vest around Mervyn. Another soldier snapped a hook closed, and Melvyn was hoisted off his feet into the sky. He spun in small circles as the rope whisked him hydraulically up toward the aircraft. Its automatic fire kept the real rioters at bay on the lawn. Up and up he swirled. Israeli soldiers reached down to pull Mervyn into the ship.
“I'm not going to Israel until....” he began to argue, when a punch silenced his protests at last. Rose was lifted aboard next to her unconscious husband. As gunshots ricocheted off the cabin, the helicopter rose away from the house and from the burning city below. Not until the Levys had been flown to a military base forty kilometers away and transferred to an Israeli Air-Force plane did Mervyn awaken.
“Where are we?” he asked.
“On a plane to Israel,” Rose told him.
Mervyn stared out the window as the powerful jet raced down the runway and soared into the air. Below them, the South African plainlands disappeared under clouds of black smoke.
“G-d answered your prayers, Mervyn,” Rose said with a smile.
Mervyn glanced back out the window. Tears of happiness welled in his eyes. They were on their way to Israel. The Almighty was bringing them home.
Adar 25, 5767, 3/15/2007
First, some opening remarks:
On Tuesday, my Rabbi and teacher, the revered and holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, shlita, journeyed with students to Meron for an all-night tikun at the tomb of the exalted Tzaddik, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, composer of the Zohar, to pray on behalf of the Jewish People. As has happened on many occasions, badly needed rain began to fall immediately, watering the thirsty fields, filling the Kinneret, and forcing immodestly dressed women to flee from the streets of our Land. If only it would rain all summer!
I appreciate all of your comments and hope that we can to continue to engage in a brotherly and productive exchange. However, I ask that comments be in good taste, with proper language fitting the Jewish People, so that the editors at IsraelNationalNews needn’t be forced to delete passages and words.
In a blink of the eye, the week has passed, Shabbat is almost upon us, and we haven’t found time to mention this past week's Torah portion. According to Rabbi Levi, this super acceleration of time teaches that the Mashiach is near. As the cycle of Redemption approaches its climax, the inner spiritual mechanisms which power existence all speed up like the frantic finale of a washing machine’s finishing spin. So before Shabbat arrives, let’s take a retrospective look at the infamous sin of the Golden Calf.
Our Sages teach us that we should strive to find, in our Torah learning, practical applications in our lives. This is part of the advice that the Ramban gives in his famous letter to his son, regarding the acquirement of the proper character traits. This being the case, what can we, the Jewish Nation in the Land of Israel today, learn from the incident of the Golden Calf?
Even though this examination may give the critics of Israel ammunition in their arsenal of excuses for wallowing in galut, we present it in order to face our problems, so that we can fix them. We are not afraid to address our shortcomings, understanding that the purpose of life in this world is to work toward perfection and tikun.
Rabbi Kook writes: “If not for the sin of the Golden Calf, the nations who dwelt in the Land of Israel would have made peace with Israel and surrendered to them, for the Name of G-d that would have been called on Israel would have awakened within them the awe of Divine exaltation, and no form of war would have been waged, and Israel’s influence upon them would have taken peaceful paths as in the Messianic era. Only, due to sin, the process was postponed by thousands of years” (“Orot,” Chapter on War, Essay 4).
After the world-rectifying revelation of G-d on Mount Sinai, the Nation of Israel should have journeyed straight to Jerusalem, peacefully establishing the Kingdom of G-d in the world. Crowned by the Torah, we should have filled the hearts of mankind with such an exalted fear and reverence for G-d, that no nation would have dared wage war against us. But the incident of the Golden Calf, while Moshe Rabainu was still on the mountain receiving the Law, had a profound psychological effect on the world. The spectacular revelation of G-d at the Red Sea was suddenly blemished and dimmed. G-d’s Name in the world, as it appears in the life of the Nation of Israel, was horribly disgraced. Israel’s exalted standing was damaged, and our moral force and supremacy collapsed. In our fallen state, in the eyes of the nations, we were just like them. Thus, instead of the red carpet that should have awaited us upon entering the Land of Israel, we now had to fight in order to claim our inheritance. Because of the Golden Calf, we lacked the absolute moral authority to make the seven nations in Canaan peacefully understand that for the benefit of the world, the Land of Israel must belong to the Jews. Instead of seeing G-d’s chosen nation on earth, they looked at us as if to say, "You are sinners too – why should we give up this land to you?”
Thus, when we come to rectify the sin of the Golden Calf, we must uproot the sexual transgression, murder, and idol worship that still exists in our midst
In order to understand the implication of the Golden Calf for us today, we have to take a closer look at the sin itself. In describing the shameful event, the verse says, “they rose to make merry” (Shemot, 32:6). Rashi explains, “This implies sexual wrongdoing and murder, for here Hur was killed.” G-d tells Moshe to go down from the Mountain, “For thy people have dealt corruptly.” The Hebrew word for dealing corruptly, “sheechate,” also has the meaning of sexual transgression, as it appears regarding the sin of the generation of the Flood, “for all flesh had corrupted it ways on the earth” (Bereshit, 6:12. See also, Zohar, Bereshit 61b). This is also the case regarding the sin of spilling seed of Er and Onan, as it says, “When he went into his brother’s wife, he spilled it (sheechate) on the ground” (Bereshit, 38:9). This teaches that the merriment surrounding the Golden Calf came from sexual corruption. While the main perpetrators in the crime were the “Eruv Rav,” the non-Jewish riffraff of the nations that came out of Egypt with the Jews, when the festivities started, we didn’t do what we should have to protest.
Thus, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov explains that the main sin of the Golden Calf was sexual transgression (“Likutei Halachot,” Yom Kippur, 1). “For the forgiveness that Moshe won for the Jews was actually over transgressions to the Brit, for the sin of the Golden Calf was over sexual misconduct, as our Sages have taught us - the Jewish People only worshiped idols to provide an excuse for publicly engaging in sexual licentiousness” (Sanhedrin 63A). The “Sfat Emet” also writes that the main atonement of Yom Kippur is over sexual transgression, for “On Yom Kippur, Moshe won G-d’s forgiveness over the sexual sins of the people at the time of the Golden Calf” (“Sfat Emet,” Yom Kippur, 5656).
Thus, when we come to rectify the sin of the Golden Calf, we must uproot the sexual transgression, murder, and idol worship that still exists in our midst. That there is a problem today in Israel regarding sexual wrongdoing is certainly no secret. The problem is ubiquitous, from the prostitution in Tel Aviv, to the immodesty in our shopping malls, to the smut on our computers and televisions, to the misbehavior of public officials. Considering that the G-d of Israel hates immorality and is more zealous over sexual transgression than anything else, this is a distressing state of affairs that does not bring us honor, nor peace. As it states in the Zohar: “Rabbi Shimon said, There is nothing in the world that so arouses the zealousness of HaKadosh Baruch Hu as the sin of transgressing the Brit, as is says, ‘And I will bring a sword upon you that shall avenge my Brit’” (Zohar, Bereshit 66b. Vayikra, 26:25).
Regarding murder, a day hardly passes in Israel without hearing a radio report about a Jew killing some other Jew. And while the actual worship of idols doesn’t exist, anything that deviates from the path of the Torah, including our fascination with Western culture, smacks of foreign worship.
Therefore, as Rabbi Kook’s teaching implies, if we want to settle the Land of Israel in a peaceful fashion, without endless wars, the answer does not lie in territorial concessions, G-d forbid, nor in the signing of treaties, but rather in healing the ills of our society. Only in that way, can we return to our exalted glory and moral stature, and thus cast the fear of G-d on the nations around us, and upon the modern-day Canaanites in our midst. “As a result, everyone who sees the Jews will recognize that they are the seed blessed of G-d, and the world will be perfected in peace” (“Orot,” loc.cited).
Adar 23, 5767, 3/13/2007
Yesterday was a beautiful, warm, summer-like day in the
Don’t get me wrong. I am not blaming the women. It isn’t their fault. The younger women are trying to attract husbands, and the older women are trying to keep the ones they already have. The competition is fierce. As the Kabbalist, Rabbi Leon Levi, points out: these confused women are victims of the sick Western culture that is infesting our borders with a plague of immodesty that is far worse than locusts. In the meantime, the Holy One weeps to see how the Daughters of Israel have fallen.
Several months ago, when homosexuals wanted to stage a “Parade of Pride” in
It can be argued that this flagrant lack of modesty on a day-to-day basis causes far more moral and spiritual damage than a two-hour “Parade of Pride.” Where are the protest posters and angry demonstrations? Where are the outcries of the rabbis against this unholy behavior? Is the silence because we have become accustomed to this state of affairs, or because we feel impotent to extinguish the fire? Or is it because our over-exposure to it has made us spiritually insensitive to the tragedy that immodesty brings to our nation?
In 1927, when world Jewry was gripped in economic hardship and widespread persecution, the famed Torah scholar, the Chofetz Chaim, wrote a letter calling on the rabbis throughout the Jewish world to save the situation by publicly decrying the decline of modesty throughout their communities. He writes:
“Behold, our Sages stated, ‘A handbreadth exposed in a woman, in a place that is usually covered, constitutes sexual unchastity’ (Berachot 24A). And today, due to our many sins, this matter has very greatly spread, and the evil inclination seduces women to walk around without covering their hair, and to go out with their arms exposed, with dresses without sleeves. And many of their garments also expose the chest. Everything is exposed so that in whatever place a man should look, he is confronted with licentiousness.”
This was in 1927. The problem is a thousand times greater today! The Chofetz Chaim continues:
“It is written, ‘For the L-rd your G-d walks in the midst of your camp to save you, and to conquer your enemy from before you’ (Devarim, ).
This is a quote from the Chofetz Chaim, not from Tzvi Fishman! Just a short time ago, all through the recent war in
The Chofetz Chaim concludes:
“Therefore, every man has the obligation to extinguish this terrible fire, and to rectify the situation in his home so that everything will be according to Torah law, and not to allow licentiousness, G-d forbid. And in doing so, he will merit to have upright and exalted holy children.
“And more than anyone else, this obligation falls on the rabbis and on all those who are zealous to fulfill G-d’s words, that in every city and village, the importance of this matter must be publicly explained, in that it directly effects our survival and our success, both physically and spiritually, in this world and the next. Thus will the verse be fulfilled, ‘And your camp shall be holy.’”
After eighty years since his letter was written, it is time that we heed the words of the Chofetz Chaim and cry out against the day-to-day parade of immodesty that is polluting the holiness of our nation, and threatening the security of our people in our cherished