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      Hollywood to the Holy Land
      by Tzvi Fishman
      Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Jewish Creativity and Culture

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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 3, 5767, 2/21/2007

      50 Ways To Leave Your Lover

      Dear Shmuelik from Monsey,

      Thank you for your comment on the previous post, “Fishman may be a clever writer, but the fact is that there is no Torah obligation at this time until the Mashiach comes for a Jew to live in Israel.”

      "I will stay here until the Mashiach comes and survive where I am," this is nothing but an evil heart and a great loss, and a sickness of reasoning and spirit. Rambam
      The Torah giant, the Rambam, has established in his “Letter of Teman” that our performance of the commandments is not dependent on the Mashiach’s coming. We are to do all of the commandments to the best of our ability, and G-d will do what is fitting in His eyes. “However, if a man will stay in a place where he sees the Torah is waning, and where the Jewish People will be lost with the passage of time, and where he can not stand by his faith, and say, ‘I will stay here until the Mashiach comes and survive where I am,’ this is nothing but an evil heart and a great loss, and a sickness of reasoning and spirit.”

      In addition, the Ramban (with an N) states that the commandment to settle the Land of Israel is an obligation from the Torah, beholden on us in every generation: “In my opinion, this is a positive commandment, enjoining them that they dwell in the Land of Israel and possess it, because it was given to them, and that they should not despise the inheritance of the L-rd” (Supplement to Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam, Positive Commandment #4).

      The Gaon of Vilna warned that the sin of the Spies in not wanting to conquer and dwell in the Land of Israel will return to haunt the nation in the time of Mashiach: “Many will fall in this great sin of, “They despised the cherished Land.” Also many guardians of the Torah will not know or understand that thy are caught in the sin of the Spies, that they have been drawn into the sin of the Spies by many false ideas and empty claims, and they support their claims with the already proven fallacy that the commandment to settle the Land of Israel no longer applies in our day, an opinion which has already been refuted by the Torah giants of the world, both the early and later authorities” (Kol HaTor, Ch.5).

      Referring to this week’s Torah potion, “Mishpatim,” Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook taught an interesting lesson. “It is written that after six years, a Hebrew slave must go free. If he refuses, saying, ‘I loved my master – I won’t go out to freedom,’ this is an awful thing. Likewise, when a Jew falls in love with life in the exile, saying, ‘I loved my master, the foreign nation,’ this is a tragic mistake.”

      We could bring a long list of Torah authorities who rule likewise, but a blog is not the place for a detailed elaboration of Jewish law. In all likelihood, it would not matter to our friend, Shmuelik from Monsey. He would undoubtedly answer with an assortment of convoluted explanations in order to rationalize his love for the exile.
      I Love New York, the Jerusalem of the West

      For simple people like me, it seems pretty clear that G-d wants His people back in the Land of Israel. In our times, we have witnessed the miraculous rebirth of the Jewish Nation in Eretz Yisrael. Who has brought all this about? The Zionists or G-d? Who has gathered millions of Jews from the four corners of the world in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy? The Zionists? The Jewish Agency? Or G-d?

      Even to an eye untrained in the exegesis of Jewish law, it is obvious that G-d has decided that the time has arrived to come home. To facilitate the way, He has transformed desert and wasteland into vineyards and orchards that export produce to all the world. G-d has built thriving cities and settlements, restored Jerusalem’s beauty and power, led Israeli armies to victories over vast greater forces, and rocketed the tiny country into becoming a world leader in medicine, science, and computer technology. And Eretz Yisrael is once again the Torah center of the Jewish world.

      Who has done all this if not the Holy One Blessed Be He? How can anyone think that He does not want His children to return home to Israel? He has even given us a Jewish airline to bring us here in a glatt kosher fashion. With a Jewish airline, and available apartments, and a modern economy, and millions of Jews already here, how can anyone claim that the time to return has not come?

      Shmuelik, my friend, wake up! Open your eyes! The L-rd is bringing the exiles back to Zion. It is happening now. G-d hasn’t waited for Mashiach to come. Why should you? As the song says, “Get on the bus, Gus. No need to discuss much. Just get yourself free.”

      Shevat 30, 5767, 2/18/2007

      The Key To Happiness

      Chodesh Tov!

      The Hebrew month of Adar is beginning. Our Sages teach that when the month of Adar commences, we all should add an extra measure of joy to our lives. Our joy is not only because we were saved long ago in Adar from the plot of the wicked Haman to destroy all of the Jews, but also because we trust that the G-d of our Forefathers will also save us today from Jew-haters the world over, in Teheran and Baghdad, in Damascus and Cairo, in Ramallah and Aza, in Moscow and Berlin, in Paris and London, in Stockholm and Rome, in Pyongyang and Peking, in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and New York.

      I am happy that I can walk around with a long Biblical beard and a big white kippah and not have to worry about getting a beer bottle smashed over my head.
      One of the major principles of Judaism is to serve G-d in happiness. A person is not supposed to perform the commandments as if they were a burden, nor out of heartless routine. The Kabbalist master, the Arizal, stated that he attained exalted levels of Divine Inspiration because he performed the commandments with transcendent joy. Needless to say, with all of the trials, pressures, and worries of daily existence, at home, at work, and at the bank, happiness is not an easy state to achieve. True joy is not running from one movie to the next, or buying something new every day, but rather by being happy with whatever life brings, in the steadfast belief that whatever G-d sends our way is for our good. This kind of faith requires hard work and lots of learning, and, for most of us, there are many pitfalls and depressions along the way.

      What can we do if we fall into hard times and a cave of darkness where everything looks gloomy and lined with despair? The famed Rabbi Nachman of Breslev has some advice. “Look for a good point,” he says. After all, everyone has something good they can be happy about. Think about your one good point and let the happiness it brings lead you to another good point. Then another. Soon you will realize that things aren’t really so bad.

      To take myself as an example, when things get out of hand with the kids, or when I botch things at work, or when I seem to be getting further away from G-d rather than closer, or when the bank manager calls with a warning that I had better fill up the minus before noon, I pause, remember where I am, and say, “Thank you G-d for bringing me to the Land of Israel. Thank you that this test of my nerves is happening to me here in Jerusalem, and not in Los Angeles or New York.”

      Jews Make the Big Move

      Remembering this makes me immediately happy. I am happy that G-d led me to realize that Israel is the true place for a Jew. I am happy to be in my homeland, and not in someone else’s. I am happy to hear Hebrew wherever I go. I am happy that my children learn about Avraham Avinu and King David in school, and not about George Washington and the Boston Tea Party. I am happy that they will be soldiers in the Israeli Army and not have to depend on someone else’s army to defend them when the Jew haters get restless again. I am happy to be a part of the colossal historic enterprise of the return of the Jewish People to Israel, a prophecy come true, and to do my small share in the nation’s rebuilding. I am happy that when elections come around, I am voting for Jews, even though many of them may be knuckleheads. I am happy that when I have to pay a traffic fine, the policeman is Jewish and my money goes to the State of Israel. I am happy that the calendar I live by is Jewish, and that when December comes around, I don’t have to see Santa Clauses and mangers wherever I look.

      Believe it or not, I am happy to be writing blogs for INN and not scripts for MGM. I am happy that I am a ten minute drive from the Kotel and not a ten hour plane ride. I am happy that I can walk around with a long Biblical beard and a big white kippah and not have to worry about getting a beer bottle smashed over my head. I am happy that I can walk down a supermarket aisle like a human being and not have to bend over and search for little OU’s like an ape.

      It turns out that from one little thought, I am happy for a whole lot of things.

      If you are Jew who lives in the Land of Israel, you can try this how-to-be-happy technique. If you are a Jew still living in someone else’s country, pretending to be a Frenchman in Paris, and Englishman in London, or an American in New York, if you want to be truly happy, which means being truly a Jew, I suppose you will just have to come to Israel too.

      Shevat 27, 5767, 2/15/2007

      Did He Really Say S-x?

      In our inaugural blog, we mentioned that we will be writing a lot about sex. Someone asked me why? He said that it wasn’t modest to discuss the subject in a public forum, and that it would only cause readers to think about it, something which the Torah forbids. This is a little like saying that one should not talk about the dangers of drugs because it may lead to drug abuse.

      The saintly Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levy, has been warning the public about the dangers of immodesty and sexual transgression for years. According to the Kabbalah, most of the tribulations, tragedies, sicknesses, family conflicts, and economic hardships that come upon the individual and nation all stem from sexual wrongdoing, known as blemishes to the Covenant, or Brit. Not to speak about these matters out of modesty, Rabbi Levi maintains, is like seeing a woman drowning in a river and not diving into the water to save her because it is forbidden for a man to touch a strange woman. “When you see that someone is about to fall off a cliff,” he asks, “Do you keep silent, or do you cry out in warning?”

      The Torah giant, Rabbi Aharon Cutler, was also strident about the need to address these crucial matters:
      Rabbi Aharon Kotler

      “I want to awaken you to a painful and shocking matter about which many people err. There are many people whom refrain from speaking about these things under the pretext of modesty. May Heaven help us! In such a fallen and licentious generation as ours, where everything is exposed without shame in the open - to speak about holiness and modesty – this is considered an affront to modesty?! Can there be a greater deception on the part of the evil inclination than this?! On the contrary, it is an absolute obligation to speak about these matters in public!”

      Today, with pornography available to everyone over the Internet, and with immodest fashions wherever you look, the need to educate people in these matters is even more imperative.
      Today, with pornography available to everyone over the Internet, and with immodest fashions wherever you look, the need to educate people in these matters is even more imperative. I have spent a lot of time in yeshivas for quite a number of years, and almost no one talks about the importance of guarding the Brit, which means observing the laws of proper sexual relations with one’s wife, and with one’s wife alone, for all other sexual relationships and acts are forbidden. Sorry, guys, but that’s the way it is. Ever since G-d made an eternal Covenant with our forefather, Avraham, sexual holiness has been the foundation of the Jewish People. If a person doesn’t learn these matters, again and again, the evil inclination is very adept at convincing us that forbidden and immodest behavior isn’t so bad.

      Let’s face it – the sexual urge is overwhelming in its power, and it is easy to succumb to its wiles and tricks.

      Every week, people with all sorts of very serious problems come to speak with Rabbi Levy, and it turns out that in about seven out of ten cases, the root of the problem is sexual wrongdoing. In one way or another, all of us are victims of the immodest, immoral culture that reigns throughout the world. Today, in the age of the Internet, the plague of pornography has even spread to our homes. Only education can combat it. This is the reason that sexual issues will be addressed in this blog. If our warnings help even one Jew, it is, as our Sages have taught us, as if we have saved the whole world! And if, on the other hand, what we write causes a reader to think about sex in an improper fashion, chances are that it was in his head already. In the meantime, readers can visit our website: www.jewishsexuality.com for in-depth articles on this all-important issue to both the holy Nation of Israel and to the world.

      Shevat 27, 5767, 2/15/2007

      Mind Blogging

      When I told my wife that I had been invited to write a blog for INN, she asked me what a blog was. So I did some research into the etymology of the word.

      Apparently, the word was coined by Shmuel Bloggerman, who shortened his name to Shmuel Blog, so that people wouldn’t know he was Jewish.

      In the world of medicine, blog is a common word. In hospitals, you will often hear doctors say, “What is the patient’s blog count?” or “His blood is blogging.”

      Sinks, drain pipes, and toilets can also get blogged.

      Other uses of the word are: “The traffic is blogged.” “The runway is blogged.” “My head is blogged.”

      Grandmothers often say, “My bowels are blogged.”

      Teenagers are fond of saying, “absolutely mind blogging!”

      Apparently, the word was coined by Shmuel Bloggerman, who shortened his name to Shmuel Blog, so that people wouldn’t know he was Jewish
      Some say that blog was originally supposed to be glob, as in “A glob of vomit,” but that a typing error changed Internet history.

      Marine biologists maintain that fish were the first creatures to use the expression. Underwater recordings of fish reveal that they are always saying, “blog, blog, blog.”

      In slang, the word is used as a curse, as in, “Get blogged!” or “Go blog yourself!”

      Englishmen say, “This is a blogging good cup of tea.”

      The philosopher, Descartes, said, “I blog, therefore I am.”

      Ringo Starr said, “You are what you blog.”

      Blog is actually an acronym in Hebrew for “Bagels, Lox, and Gefilta Fish.” Others say, “Bitul Lemud Gadol,” meaning a big neglect of Torah learning.

      One of the most important principles of Judaism is to serve the L-rd with Simcha, which means joy. Rabbi Nachman taught that it is a mitzvah to always be happy!

      So happy blogging!

      Shevat 26, 5767, 2/14/2007

      Blog of Blogs

      To my Jewish brothers and sisters the world over, and to all friends of the Jewish People and Israel, I bid you shalom.

      It is with great embarrassment and trepidation that I have agreed to inaugurate this blog. Who am I to express my yearnings, thoughts, views, and prayers over such an international public forum? Then again, after four thousand years of reincarnations in previous lifetimes, and during my voyage from Hollywood to the Holy Land in this life, I have hopefully gleaned some precious bits of knowledge that I can share.

      Nonetheless, I will try to lower my voice to a whisper and let other more holy and knowledgeable voices do the writing. Thus we will hear the musings of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook, the opinions of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the esoteric wisdom of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and the holy Zohar. We will study some Kabbalah, Jewish Law, and translate important writings of Torah giants throughout the ages. We will speak about happiness in marriage, a lot about kosher sex, and bringing up the kids. We will hear about people’s problems, and learn how the saintly Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, helped them adopt a healthier, happier path.

      When we write about politics, we will try to see G-d’s ever-present Hand in the modern unfolding of Jewish history and search to find deeper, more spiritual solutions to our national ills. Hopefully, we will laugh together, and pray together, and exchange ideas. Sometimes I will probably bore you, and other times I will write things that peeve you off. Whatever we write, we will endeavor to do so in the letter and spirit of Jewish Law, even when speaking about the corrupt and empty-headed politicians who often mess up our lives. Our main goal will always be to strive to get closer to Torah, to the Land of Israel, and to G-d.

      That is the reason we are on this planet.

      Everything else is “vanity of vanities,” like surfing on the Internet, the virtual cyberspace hooker of our times. So here we go. Hold on to your seats. This is the blog of blogs, the voice of holiness, Torah, and truth, preparing for blast off. Get ready for a magical mystery tour of the universe. May the L-rd be with us, and may all that we do find favor in His eyes.