Middle East 4:45 AM 12/11/2013
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Inside Israel 2:44 AM
News & Call-In with Tamar Yonah
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.
I’ve been having a great time reading through the amazing, inspiring, and incomparably educating, seven-volume collection of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s writings, “Beyond Words.” It’s literally an encyclopedia of Judaism, and a laser-eyed CT of the ills besetting the Jewish nation in our time. Volume 7 is especially important - in addition to articles from 1989 and 1990, it has indexes that enable the reader to find articles by subject, by title, and even by the references in the article to specific quotations from the Torah and the Talmud.
To order the volumes at www.amazon.com, type “Beyond Words Kahane” on the search line. Or at the link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=beyond+words+kahane
To order in Israel, call 02-5823540.
The Introduction of the series, written by David Fein, the collection’s compiler and editor, presents an important overview of Rabbi Kahane’s writings, and offers an inside glimpse at his towering personality and his struggle to serve the Jewish People by getting out the true message of Torah. Here it is in full:
An Adherent’s View
An Honest and Courageous Rabbi
By David Fein
The writings in this anthology constitute a classic collection of Jewish thought and literature, not just a cry from the heart, a commentary on events past and forgotten, or mere rhetoric. Their author will eventually be recognized as a prophet before his time, the most honest and courageous Jew and Zionist of his generation.
Rabbi Meir Kahane’s main focus in his much-too-short life was “What is good for Israel and the Jewish people.” He loved his people and his land, and led them with honor and ethics. He did not join with corruption of any color to gain wealth and power. For over 30 years, he was at the head of any action that protested the bringing of pain or injury to a Jew.
He loved the Jewish people, but thought there was something terribly wrong with them: They had been destroyed psychologically by a 20-century long exile, losing all common sense and sense of self-preservation. After 2,000 years of figuratively living in someone else’s attic, his own people were the epitome of abnormality, complexes, and insecurities. The Rabbi wanted to save the Jews and their tiny State of Israel, not from external enemies, but from themselves. He often quoted Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar: “The fault . . . is not in our stars, but in ourselves” (see the article “The Fault, Dear Brutus,” January 12, 1979).
He said there was a Jewish Idea that today was either silent or distorted. He spoke about truths, unpopular Jewish truths, about which no one else had the courage to speak. And like the Prophets of old, he criticized his people for their shortcomings and warned of the enemy outside — and perhaps more importantly — inside the gates. He did not know everything, nor did he claim to have all the answers. He was not a politician but a Rabbi who used politics to advocate for the Jewish people. Most rabbis and ordinary Jews who privately agreed with him did not have the courage to support him publicly.
Rabbi Kahane was the most impressive and controversial Jew of his time. He was so different from his contemporaries as to be almost an existential anomaly. His incisive and analytical mind, brilliance as a writer and orator, charismatic personality and sincerity made him a natural leader. These elements combined in him so favorably that one could not help saying, “This is a man!” He had the quality of being “real.” How does one know when someone he or she meets in life is for real? One just feels it, knows it. Such was this man. The power within him was far above that of anyone else in his generation.
The Rabbi was a complete and normal Jew, an ideologue and exponent of a complete, normal and healthy Jewish way of life.
He was an amalgam of a rare combination of influences. Although his father was an Orthodox rabbi, he was raised, to quote his own words, “in the real world,” his friends being mostly secular Jews and gentiles. He knew the ways of the world and thought highly of many of them. His ability to relate to people of different backgrounds served him well throughout his life. His knowledge of Western history, philosophy and even sports was on the highest level. He was a very “Western” man. And, learned in both ways, he chose the Jewish way, which he thought superior. What differentiated him from other rabbis was not knowledge, per se. It was the uniqueness of his mind: the brilliant logic, his healthy outlook and his physical and emotional courage.
After serving as a rabbi in two synagogues in New York, he realized that “being a rabbi” (i.e., working as one) was not for him. He said that in olden times being a rabbi was not a career or a profession, but a calling, and as such entailed the need to work a “real” job as well. He noted that around the time of Maimonides, rabbis became paid employees of synagogues or communities, and he quoted the Rambam as saying, “No good can come of this” (Commentary on the Mishnah, Tractate Avot 4:7).
Rabbi Kahane’s views regarding the non-Jewish world have been distorted. I must disabuse the reader of the thought that the Rabbi disliked non-Jews. His attitude could be summed up as “Vive la différence!” Let every people be true unto itself. He respected accomplishment, decency and goodness in others. I believe he admired gentiles for their normality and for being able to exist and develop in peace in their own lands. He thought they possessed not only wisdom, but the common sense lacking in his own people. He had excellent relations with all types of people — I personally witnessed many gentiles, some of them quite prominent, greeting him warmly, if not adoringly. Although he thought the United States was a great country — by far the greatest foreign land Jews have ever lived in — he believed that the Golden Age of “symbiosis” between Jews and America would eventually end.
The Rabbi did not advocate violence, per se. He sought peace as much as any other person. He believed that in most cases one should not resort to violence unless one has tried everything else. He did, as any normal person, advocate the use of violence in self- defense and when there is no other way to react to an enemy. When one deals with Esau, one must use the weapons of Esau.
Rabbi Kahane disliked people and nations who disliked Jews, and he hated those who hated Jews. He noted that as a mark of our abnormality, Jews do not really hate their enemies. He criticized the famous remark of Golda Meir: “I can forgive the Arabs for killing our boys. What I cannot forgive them for is for making our boys kill them.” The Rabbi said that he did not forgive the Arabs for killing our boys. (Another immortal remark of Golda Meir, the socialist Laborite, was: “I do not want to wake up every morning and hear of how many Arabs were born the night before.”)
• • •
“Oh, give me an honest atheist!,” Rabbi Kahane used to sigh. He believed that Judaism was meaningful only when one does not “play games” with it, and that its practice and outlook had become warped from the long Exile. One cannot create a healthy culture as a minority within a majority culture. He thought the Judaism of his native U.S. was not Judaism, but a materialistic caricature of it that was obnoxious to G-d. He believed that the Reform and Conservative movements were disastrous to the Jewish people, and that the “prim and proper” Orthodoxy of Jews in affluent American suburbs (which he called “the suburbs of the Shadow of Death”) left a lot to be desired, namely complacency and lack of self-sacrifice. He felt all American Jews, from atheist to ultra-Orthodox, have much in common: They live in their own mental world, and they do not want to leave America.
The Rabbi accused the American Jewish leadership of inaction and impotence during the Holocaust. The leaders did nothing because of fear — of being accused of double loyalty, of getting arrested, of losing their standing among the gentiles. Ordinary Jews enjoyed expensive Bar Mitzvahs as 12,000 Jews per day were turned into soap. Kahane coined a term that became famous: “Never Again!” He did not mean that Jews would never again suffer a Holocaust, for as long as they live among gentiles, such a thing is possible. Rather, he meant that never again would Jews go meekly and voluntarily to their deaths, as they had in many cases after following the advice of fellow Jews, who, collaborating with the enemy, told them to leave their homes and relocate for the sake of goodwill and “peace.”
Zionism without Judaism was bankrupt, he wrote, and represented nothing more than “shallow, empty nationalism.” The real war was not with the Arabs, but for the hearts and minds of Jews, especially young Jews. And unless we win this struggle, we can defeat the Arabs in battle a hundred times and still lose the war. Kahane was a critic of the society that secular Zionism had created among the Jews in the Land of Israel, and he thought it the worst of cultures, its practitioners having neither Jewish values, nor, in many cases, any values. “Are you a more just society than Sweden?” he rhetorically asked his secular Knesset opponents. He thought that Jews on all sides of the political spectrum needed to learn tolerance — towards each other — and that just because one does not agree totally with another does not make that person an enemy.
• • •
The goal of those who held power in the Jewish world during the years of Rabbi Kahane’s activism was to separate him from mainstream Jewry, in an effort to minimize his truthful, powerful message. Their genius lay in the use of defamation, distortion and rhetoric, thus obviating honest discussion and analysis of the issues he raised. Their words did not have specific meanings, but were rather sounds used to evoke particular emotions. It did not matter that in recent history the involuntary expulsion of hostile civilian populations had been internationally sanctioned. As just one example, U.S. President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Clement Atlee agreed in 1945 to the expulsion of several million ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe.
Kahane was bothered not so much by people who disagreed with him as by hypocrites. For twenty years he asked: Do the Arab citizens of Israel have the right, peacefully, through babies and not bullets, by becoming a majority of the population, to change the name of the country to “Palestine,” and do with it as they see fit? Not one Jewish leader would answer the question. No one answered “No”; no one answered “Yes.” The Rabbi’s response: If you believe in the absolute rule of democracy, of course the Arabs have that right. And if you are a Zionist, of course they do not. Is there a contradiction between Zionism (of any kind) and the ideal of democracy? Yes, there is.
Perhaps Rabbi Kahane’s greatest victory was in forcing “the only democracy in the Middle East” to make a mockery of itself, by committing political homicide in broad daylight in openly banning a legitimate party that polls indicated would become the country’s third largest.
The issue is not Kahane’s opinions, but the right of a Jew in a Jewish state to express views that can be accepted or rejected in the marketplace of ideas. One does not have to agree with anything Kahane said on the Arab issue to be shaken by the frightening efforts to silence differing views. The question is: Where does it end? If there is no objective truth, why is a religious or Khomeini-type party that bans a secular party it sees as blaspheming the “word of G-d” any worse than a secular party that bans a competing party on the grounds that it is offensive to its values? Both are operating from exactly the same premise.
Since the Rabbi’s death, in exquisite justice, it has become common for prominent Israelis, including former Prime Ministers, speaking in the West, in many cases at prestigious universities, to be “banned” themselves. Alas, those who hate the Jewish state consider even those Israelis who banned the Kach Movement to be pariahs and even their kind of Zionism to be illegitimate. “Said Rabbi Hillel when he saw a skull floating on the water: ‘Because you drowned others, you were drowned, and those who drowned you will in turn be drowned’” (Pirkei Avot 2:7).
• • •
Nineteen years after Kahane’s death, history has vindicated his foresight. Conditions have deteriorated for the Jews, and life in Israel has become drastically less secure. The Rabbi wrote: “We are not a ‘free people in our land,’ but, rather, a terrified people.” We, the Jews, have not cured or purged ourselves of our contradictions, schizophrenia, or terror at the thought of having to do just that. As we did during the Holocaust, we are collaborating with the worst enemies of our people. As an example of the yiddishe kup (Jewish head), we imported into the country 20,000 terrorists, gave them automatic weapons, designated them “police,” and called them “peace” partners. No, the fault is not in “our stars.” It is the logical result of a State and People that lost its Judaism, then its Zionism, and then its very sanity. “From the sole of the foot unto the head, there is no soundness” (Isaiah 1:6).
After his murder, Rabbi Kahane was eulogized by many in the religious-nationalist camp. Most came to bury him while praising him as little as possible. They felt guilt over their lack of support for his positions and relief that he would no longer be around to embarrass them. Most prefaced their comments by saying that not only did they disagree with his ideas, but they were as far from them as “East from West.” They were not exaggerating, but rather exhibiting symptoms of our sickness, a pathology not limited to “left-wing” or secular, “assimilated” Jews.
The leadership of the Israeli right-wing, of the settlers, never did, and does not now, espouse (publicly, at least) the philosophy of Rabbi Kahane. They reject any idea of expulsion of Arabs and, like the Left they so castigate, raise high the lie of coexistence with Arabs, lest they be branded “racists.” Thus, the right-wing appeal to the wider Israeli public not to give up the territories is based strictly on secular, “practical” issues, such as security, rather than issues of theology or G-d (see the article “Ashamed of G-d,” May 25, 1990). In this, the right-wing continues the policy of the mainstream Zionist leadership, which from its beginnings in the late 1800s ignored the Arab presence in the Land, in naïveté or unwillingness to want to see that the Arabs also had “political ambitions.” The consensus is that to raise the issue of Arabs-who-do-not-want- us would cause the mass of Jews to reject the whole settlement “enterprise.” According to this philosophy, self-restraint (havlaga), life-as-a-daily-hell and the continued murder of Jews are unfortunately the price we must pay on the road to redemption. And so we must act as we did when we were defenseless, before there was a State, before we had one of the world’s strongest armed forces. We must continue settling the land, sometimes suffer, reject vengeance, as much as possible ignore the Arabs, and, in the end, G-d will, somehow, provide the solution.
In 1988 I visited Ma’aleh Amos, a settlement in the territories that is surrounded by many Arab villages. I spoke with a resident, originally from the West. She told me that it was not the numerous Arabs but Rabbi Kahane who frightened her. This comment surprised me, and the next day I told it to the Rabbi. He quickly responded, “Of course I do.”
Today Israel is doing a magnificent job of manifesting so-called Jewish moral superiority by apologizing for its existence and fighting an enemy dedicated to its total destruction with feeble, temporary military incursions. Israel’s no-policy is allowing its Arab citizens to grow and destroy the country from within. Arabs currently constitute 20% of the population of the State, and their birthrate is twice that of Jews. The Galilee and the Negev, both sensitive military areas, today have solid Arab majorities. It was only because of the votes of Arab Members of Knesset that the Oslo Accords passed — the majority of Jewish Knesset members voted against it.
What concerns Arabs is not the relative size of Israel or its degree of tolerance for the Arabs who live in it. It is the fact that Israel is a Jewish state and not an Arab one, the fact that it exists at all. Because the Arabs believe Israel was established on land entirely stolen from them, there is nothing Jews and Israel can do to make them “happy” — other than cease to exist.
The Rabbi believed that Israel had catastrophic leadership, but deserved it. Its people are deluded, self-centered, and apathetic, and the same is true of its government. With every concession to Arabs, Israelis either celebrate, shrug and say “Give peace a chance,” or continue sitting in front of the television set. Of those who do understand, many are frightened and simply want to survive each day rather than confront the problems at hand. They see what happened to one who spoke the truth. They know that if they say that the Arabs must be transferred out of the country, there is an excellent chance of their ending up in jail. I do not blame them and cannot say what I would do in their position. The problems and solutions are frightening, and life so short. But we must stop deceiving ourselves and face the issues honestly. The truth, no matter how difficult or bitter, is always better to acknowledge.
The choice posed by many, that we can either “rule over another people” or have a Jewish state, is a false one. It is this false definition of the problem by both the Left and the Right, and people’s fear of speaking up, that have led us to false solutions and may, G-d forbid, destroy us. We are hardly “ruling” over another people. If anything, it is they who are ruling us. Furthermore, giving back land or dividing the country with a wall does not solve the problem of too many Arabs — because Israel faces the same demographic and terrorist threat on the “safe” side of the wall from Arabs who are its own citizens. Finally, ignoring the problem of too-many-Arabs has led us to the present policy of having no position except trying to muddle through and survive another day.
Rashi said: “And you shall clear the land of its inhabitants, and then you will possess it. Then you will be able to exist in it, and if not, you will be unable to exist in it” (Commentary on Numbers 33:53).
Sforno on the same verse: “If you drive them out, then you will be able to live there . . . and if not, you will not survive there. When you eliminate the inhabitants of the land, you will be privileged to hand over the land as an inheritance to your children. But if you do not eliminate them, even though you conquer the land, you will not be privileged to hand it down to your children.”
Must the Arabs be expelled from the country? Yes, they must. The Arabs must go so that the Jewish people can exist in the one land that they possess.
• • •
Rabbi Kahane used to say, half-joking, that Jews are so neurotic and paranoid, they need a “national couch.” I do not think that is funny. Our abnormality, our deep sickness of soul, our refusal to choose, causes the death of Jews in Israel and condemns the country to an endless hell. Moreover, it results in the “death” of Jews in the Exile by making Israel an unattractive, dangerous place, leading Jews to stay away from it and to disappear — albeit comfortably — through assimilation.
Had Rabbi Kahane lived, I believe he would eventually have become Prime Minister of Israel. And had he been allowed to take his rightful place in the history of his nation, he would not have abided the wreckage that has befallen us since his passing.
Rabbi Kahane was quite relaxed concerning his own importance. While his supporters viewed him as literally carrying the fate of the Jewish people on his shoulders, he tried not to take himself too seriously, quoting the Talmudic maxim that “One should not believe in oneself until the day one dies” (Pirkei Avot 2:4). People constantly admonished Meir Kahane about his safety. He was fatalistic, often saying, “They got Kennedy, didn’t they?” He believed that if the issues he spoke about remained unresolved, there would be great suffering for the Jews, but that in the event of his demise, G-d would find another way to save the Jewish people — the important thing being that Jews must never lose hope or faith. G-d’s plan is perfect, even if we do not understand it or it may seem harsh. And even though the thought may not be of much comfort, G-d will never allow the Jewish people to be totally destroyed, as that would be the ultimate Hillul Hashem, Desecration of G-d’s Name.
Some say that if only the Rabbi had cultivated a different public image, he would have been more successful. After his murder, some supporters wrote that those who opposed him did so because they misunderstood him or thought his public demeanor too abrasive; that if only people could have seen what a nice person he was, things would have been different! One person asked me to include articles showing the Rabbi’s humorous side, claiming they would improve the book. It is true that he had a keen sense of humor. (Example: “Jewish women choose not to have babies. Abortion is their game: 35,000 abortions last year, all Jewish. Arabs don’t have abortions; they’re frum.”)
I disagree with this point of view and think such people are living in a state of denial. Those who opposed the Rabbi did so because they understood him only too well. The reason for the enmity and opposition to him on the part of the Left was not because they thought he lacked a sense of humor and did not explain things “nicely” enough. It was because they abhorred his ideas. And the Right saw in him a clear danger to its status and standing.
Kahane believed our salvation would come from the Torah, its study and practice. He understood, however, that it is a sociological law that salvation will not come from rabbis or functionaries who have salaries and jobs to lose (see the article “‘Amcha’ — Your People,” July 2, 1971). From where would it then come? “The back of the bus” — from people who have nothing to lose.
Jews frightened by his proposal to transfer the Arabs invariably raised the issue of unfavorable world reaction to such a move. The Rabbi understood that his solution would make the nations of the world — united in nothing except what concerns Israel — unhappy. He responded that a state is not given to a people on a silver platter, but must be earned through sacrifice. He said that it is preferable to have a Jewish state that is hated by the entire world than an Auschwitz that is loved by it. In summary, “Ein breirah” — there is no choice.
• • •
In 1937, when Meir was a child of five, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, on his second visit to America, visited the Kahane family’s home. It was only two years before the Holocaust; he had come to the U.S. to speak about Jewish survival. Jewish organizations boycotted him and took out full-page ads in newspapers urging Jews not to come and hear him. Meir’s father told his son that once only six people showed up to hear Jabotinsky speak, but he would not let the organizers cancel, saying: “I will speak to six people, who will speak with another six people, and those six will speak with more, and so on. It is a matter of life and death for the Jews.”
The very act of speaking the truth, no matter what the outcome, is a victory in itself. Rabbi Kahane told me that he felt free, quoting the Talmudic statement, “There is no free man but he who studies Torah” (Pirkei Avot 6:2). When we become honest and normal, and with courage go out and conquer the mountain for a Jewish people in a Jewish state, we will also be free.
I hope that this introduction has not only helped to clarify the feelings that Rabbi Kahane’s followers hold for him, but also touched readers’ minds and hearts. I am honored to have known this great man and hope this collection of writings is a fitting tribute.
This week, I had the opportunity to show visitors some of the beauties and wonders of the Holy Land. It gave me a chance to relive the magic of experiencing the Land for the first time and to be blown away by its immeasurable holiness and value to the Jewish Nation. Wherever we went, be it museums, archeological sites, settlements, the tombs of our Forefathers, Yad Vashem, the Dead Sea, or walking the streets of Jerusalem, the experience is 1000% Jewish. Everything is Jewish here: the mountains, the stones of the buildings, the trees, the sky, the towns, the shopping centers, the air you breathe, the overpowering, all-encompassing holiness permeates everything with such a profound saturation, that even the things that you wouldn’t think of being holy or Jewish, like Madison Avenue style billboards or Arab neighborhoods, are dwarfed in the transcendental Jewishness of the Land and have no lasting impact, nor are able to blemish the towering holiness of Eretz Yisrael.
In contrast, whenever they spoke about America, I had a terrible feeling of coldness, recalling the utter gentileness of the United States. There, everything is gentile. The streets are gentile, the faces are gentile, the mountains are gentile, the air isn’t air, the language is gentile, the signs are gentile, the stores are gentile, the historic monuments are gentile, the culture is gentile, gentile, gentile, gentile, gentile.
I don’t know how Jews can live there. Someone who is assimilated and estranged from his roots, I can understand that he doesn’t feel the emptiness and strangeness of living in an unholy foreign land. But for a Jew who cares about being a Jew, and who cares about Judaism, I can’t understand how he can live in a gentile land. If he was born there and doesn’t know anything else, then that’s what he used to – he thinks that’s all there is. But for a Jew who has experienced Israel, I don’t understand how he can tolerate living anywhere else. Why would anyone want to live in a gentile land amongst the gentiles when he or she can live in the Jewish Land? Even for people who complain that Israeli society is secular, it is still the Holy Land. The holiness pervades everything, making it a million times holier and more Jewish than anywhere else in the world. How can an Orthodox Jew live in a foreign land? Of his own will and choice? I don’t understand.
The truth is that not everyone feels things so deeply. Even in the days of the Exodus, four-fifths of the Jews didn’t want to leave Egypt and died in the plague of darkness. And in the wilderness, the Spies cooled the hearts of the people and dissuaded them from journeying on to the Land, a national disaster that haunts us until today. Even in the time of Ezra, when the exiled Jews were allowed to return to Israel and build the Temple, the majority remained in Babylon, unwilling to give up their mansions and businesses, as the “Kuzari” makes clear (Kuzari, 2:24).
After re-experiencing Israel this week, more than ever, I thank G-d that I’m here. I thank G-d that He opened my eyes and allowed me to see the difference. I thank G-d that He gave me a new heart to feel the difference. I thank G-d that he led me to enlightened teachers who could make me understand that Torah was much more than keeping kashrut and Shabbat.
After saying goodbye to the visitors at the airport, I once again got down on my knees and kissed the ground that G-d gave to our Forefathers. How thankful I was that I wasn’t boarding an airplane and flying away from the Land. How could somebody? How was it possible? Truthfully, I don’t understand.
Yesterday, I took some tourists to Yad Vashem. In the early 1930’s, Germany was a “cultured” and “enlightened” society, famous for its literature and its arts. Jews were a part of the upper strata, prominent in all spheres of German life. Then, in the throes of economic decline, Hitler rose to power, rallying the masses in his call for Aryan supremacy, by blaming the Jews for all of the country’s ills.
In five years, six million Jews were murdered. The Vatican was silent as the slaughter continued. The powers that be in Washington, knew of the carnage, and decided not to bomb the rail tracks which led to the death camps. The French and other cultured European countries aided the massacre. With only a handful of exceptions, the world turned a deaf ear to the nightmarish plight of the Jews. Yes, the Allies fought against the Germans, but it was to save themselves, not to save the Jews.
The Yad Vashem experience is a little like a “reconstructed” death march through the hell that was Nazi Germany. Leaving the museum’s terrifying exhibits and halls, you walk out of the darkened chambers into bright sunlight, where you face the forest and hills of Eretz Yisrael. There is no explanation. There is no sign to read. No one tells you what to think or how to feel. Some people probably don’t catch the point at all. Others might think that the museum designers are trying to get across the universal message that after darkness comes light, or that life goes on, triumphing over suffering and death. I, however, explained to the visitors that they were staring out at renewed Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael, precisely because that the Holocaust had come as a painful amputation to uprooted us from the exile, after we had failed to respond to the call to come home, which had arisen for the first time in nearly 2000 years with the birth of the Zionist movement, for, as our Prophets had warned us, only in Zion would there be a refuge from the death camps of galut.
The visitors nodded their heads.
“So how can you return to America,” I asked them, “to continue living in yet another exile amidst the gentiles when you can live today in your own Land in Israel?”
“A Holocaust like this could never happen again,” one said.
“Certainly not in America,” another added.
“The world has learned its lesson,” the third remarked.
Hearing their words, I realized that it was the Jews who hadn’t learned the lesson. Just as Zeev Jabotinsky warned the Jews of Europe and no one listened, the Yad Vashem Museum warns the Jews of the Diaspora and no one listens. Yes, it’s nice, very powerful, deeply agonizing, and what lovely grounds. But the visitors leave the museum and return to their lives in America, and France, and England, and Australia, and all the Germanys of tomorrow.
My friends. History repeats itself. Especially Jewish history. In every Diaspora we ever lived, no matter how good things seemed to be, the time always came when the gentiles reminded us that we were a hated minority who didn’t belong. And it will happen again. Even in America – if there are any Jews left after the silent Holocaust of assimilation decimates our ranks. Yes, my good friends. Make no mistake. You are living a delusion. It will happen again. The Almighty has promised that the Children of Israel will return to their Land, and He will bring it about, in one way or another, His words will all come to pass, whether by our joyful aliyah, or by force, with His wrath poured forth.
The choice is yours.
Internet Pornography – Public Enemy #1
In the beginning of the week, an Israeli teenager phoned me, wanting to talk about his addiction to Internet porn. He said that he’s been in turmoil for almost two years, feeling terribly guilty and depressed, with no one to talk to because of his feelings of transgression and shame. He turned to me because he saw a banner ad for the Hebrew version my booklet, “The Mouse Made Me Do It!” and followed it to the link on our jewishsexuality.com website, where it is posted for free downloading.
In the course of our conversation, he revealed that there was no anti-porn filter on his home computer, and that he couldn’t ask his father to have one installed because he discovered (by surreptitiously checking out the history of his dad’s laptop) that his father is hooked too.
The next day, I got an unhappy email from a divorced fellow who now lives alone, and who is also a victim of Internet temptations. He also came across our website and identified himself in the section called “Pornoholics Anonymous.” He related that simple curiosity led him into a two-hour per day habit, caused him to find his wife no longer attractive, and eventually led to their divorce and the break-up of the family.
These are just two examples. As we have written in the past, the problem is not just a breakdown in morality. Watching pornography is a serious Torah transgression of, “You shall not turn after your heart and your eyes which lead you astray.” In and of itself (without mentioning the serious transgression of spilling semen in vain which very often accompanies non-kosher surfing) viewing immodest websites cuts a person off from G-d and from Torah, making prayer and Torah learning empty and void of all meaning. Young people afflicted with the problem (plague is a better word) describe their becoming withdrawn and social recluses. Whether a person clicks on hardcore pornography or the “normal” socially-accepted bikini-clad celebs that are all over the web, the result is the same. Because our eyes are directly connected to our brains and our souls, with every immodest click, a person damages the highest levels of his, or her, spiritual framework.
Without delving into the Kabbalistic understandings of this week’s Torah portion, “the brit and the chesed” mentioned in the first verse (Devarim, 7:12) refers to these matters. All of the subsequent blessings of fertility, abundant livelihood, and good health depend on the purity of our sexual lives. The Rambam, who was a brilliant physician as well as a giant in Torah, testifies that major cause of bad health and disease stems from the squandering of our holy sexual energies (Hilchot Daot, 4:19).
Today, the Torah’s warning, “You shall not bring an abomination into your house” (Devarim, 7:28) might just as well be talking about a computer that doesn’t have a reliable anti-porn filter. That’s step number one in overcoming the problem. Get the smut out of your home. And make sure that someone else keeps the code – not you! In Israel, the Rimon filter is very good, and the excellent K9 filter can be downloaded free from anywhere. Once you have a filter installed, learning about the serious of the transgression and how to overcome it is the next step. Our Jewishsexuality.com website is filled with articles on the subject, and that’s why we wrote the book and the booklets, “The Mouse Made Me Do It!” which is a warehouse of Torah information and counseling on the subject.
Once again, anyone who can donate toward the printing and distribution of the Hebrew-version booklets to high-school students, youth movements, and soldiers in Israel, will be doing a great and life-saving mitzvah. In addition, as our Sages have taught, giving charity and helping others escape the pitfalls of sexual transgression are powerful atonements for our own sexual sins.
Donations can be made out to the “Brit Book” and sent to: Brit Book, 19 Shoshana Street, Jerusalem, Israel 96149. For those seeking US tax-exempt status , donations should be made out to the “Central Fund For Israel” and earmarked for the “Brit Book,” and mailed to the same address.
Thinking about making aliyah? Can’t make up your mind? Or maybe you are already living in Israel and would like to send friends back in the “old country” something really powerful to make them wake up. Well, here’s the perfect thing - I am happy to announce that my new collection of best blogs, “From Israel with Love – It’s Time for Jews to Come Home,” is now available online at: https://www.createspace.com/3671839.
These always creative and poignant essays shed devastating light on the darkness of Diaspora life, while clearly explaining the Torah commandment to live in the Land of Israel, as stated again and again and again in the Torah, the teachings of our Sages, the writings Rabbi Kook, the “Kuzari,” etc. etc. etc., always in a clear, original, and often humorous style. Buy it for yourselves, send it to friends and family in the golus. In addition, let everyone know on facebook by sharing the link to the book with your friends: https://www.createspace.com/3671839.
Get the word out that IT’S TIME FOR JEWS TO COME HOME! IT’S TIME FOR JEWS TO COME HOME! IT’S TIME FOR JEWS TO COME HOME! Send the link to email lists. Post it on Twitter. The message could save a person’s life.
While you’re at it, here are some other books that you can recommend to friends who need a little hizuk in the Judaism, or in their connection to Eretz Yisrael, or who simply would a appreciate a genuine Jewish novel to read. The novels are filled with the deepest messages of Torah, while being told with the most brilliant literary flair of all the famous bestselling “Jewish” novelists who abandoned Judaism rather than embracing it.
One Man's Spiritual Quest for Health, Love, and the Golden Path
by Tzvi Fishman
New England high school teacher, Craig Peters, has hit a mid-life crisis. He's got problems with his wife, with his daughter, and with his health. Reading about a 120 year old miracle worker in Israel, he decides that this mysterious sage is the only person in the world who can save him from his troubles and from the unholy life he has been leading. Embarking on a "nothing to lose" quest to the Holy Land, he enters a spiritual world he never knew existed. His conversations with Saba Yosef, who uncannily knows everything about his life without being told, brings him to a desperately needed overhaul and inner cleansing. But it takes a near fatal "accident," and the intercession of Saba Yosef in the World To Come, to bring him back from the afterworld for a second chance at life, and the hope for a new, more loving beginning.
A Modern Day Fable
by Tzvi Fishman
Harry Walsh is a brilliant, cynical, whoring conman, the bestseller author of phony "spiritual" self-help books. In past reincarnations, he appeared again and again as some of world history's most infamous and murderous characters, including Cain, Nimrod, Bilaam the Sorceror, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus, Titus, Muhammad, and King Richard the Lionhearted, to mention just a few. Now, the Almighty has decided to give Harry one last chance to change his errant ways. But when an angel arrives in New York with the mission of convincing Harry to set his present licentious life in order and break free from his sordid past, the angel himself falls to the temptations of the fast life in America as he tours around the country with the ribald celebrity. This modern day fable if filled with humor and hilarious escapades as it traces the unlikely friendship that springs up between the angel and the soul-stained writer. Along the way, the reader is taken on a roller-coaster ride through world history, encountering, along with Harry, startling insights and deep, poignant truths which have the power to illuminate the spiritual darkness of our times and add the Divine light and connection that is missing from our lives.
by Tzvi Fishman
The novel, "Dad," tells the touching, poignant, and humorous story of a loving husband with five hyperactive sons and another child on the way, who suddenly has to take care of his aging parents as well, while carefully placating his harried, stressed-out wife. It's a wild, hectic balancing act that would drive anyone insane, and Joseph Friedman is no exception as he struggles to help his anxiety-ridden Dad deal with the Alzheimer's Disease that has turned Mom into a totally different woman. "Dad" tells the story all people face as their parents reach the not so "Golden Years." An unforgettable family novel by the author of "Tevye in the Promised Land."
by Tzvi Fishman
"Days of Mashiach" is a collection of original and off-beat stories about Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora. Written with a keen and humorous eye on the Jewish experience in our time, the stories center around the redemption of the Jewish People, the ingathering of the exiles, repentance, settlement of the Land of Israel, and Mashiach.
by Tzvi Fishman
Seventeen year old, Sam Singer, son of one of the wealthiest men in America, frustrated by his childhood of money and fame, leaves his home in Beverly Hills in search of God and the "TRUTH." His poignant and humerous-packed odyssey takes him to London, Paris, Rome, India, Mecca, and finally Jerusalem, where his insistence on praying on the Temple Mount nearly sets off an international war. "The Discman and the Guru" is fun reading for the entire family.
by Rabbi David Samson and Tzvi Fishman
In his classic treatise, "Orot," Rabbi Kook teaches that a proper understanding of Judaism can only be achieved after one first recognizes the significance of the Land of Israel to the Jewish People. To understand who we are as a nation, and to actualize our role as a light to the world, we first have to comprehend the special relationship between the Divinely-chosen People and the Divinely-chosen Land.
Rabbi Kook writes: "It is impossible for a Jew to be devoted and faithful to his intellectual faculties and his imaginative powers when he is outside the Land of Israel, compared to the quality of their faithfulness in Land of Israel. Revelations of holiness, on whatever level, are clean in Land of Israel, while outside the Land of Israel, they are mixed with dross and impure husks."
Owing to the deep, esoteric insights and difficult Hebrew of "Orot," the book has remained the cherished possession of Rabbi Kook's students and the generation of Torah scholars who learned at the Rabbi Kook Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Now, in this illuminating commentary, Rabbi Kook's writings on the Land of Israel are explained in a clear and concise manner that is sure to add a treasure of knowledge to your understanding of Judaism and the role of Am Yisrael in the world.
While psychologists and self-help books offer many theories about man's existential dilemma and pain, Rabbi Kook reveals that the real cause of humanity's suffering stems from man's alienation from God. The solution, he teaches, is t'shuva. While t'shuva is normally translated as penitence or repentance, the root of the Hebrew word t'shuva means "return." T'shuva is a return to the source, to one's roots, to one's deepest inner self. Rabbi Kook writes:
"When one forgets the essence of one's soul; when one distracts his mind from seeing the true nature of his inner life, everything becomes doubtful and confused. The principal t'shuva, which immediately lights up the darkness, is for a person to return to himself, to the root of his soul. Then he will immediately return to God, to the Soul of all souls. This is true for an individual, a nation, for all of mankind, and for the perfection of all existence... All depression stems from transgression, from being distant from God, and t'shuva comes to light up the soul and transform the depression into incredible joy."
THE ART OF T'SHUVA explains Rabbi Kook's writings on t'shuva in a clear, concise, and illuminating step-by-step fashion. This encounter with Rabbi's Kook's vision is certain to lead readers to greater personal happiness, understanding, and spiritual growth.
“The Mouse Made Me Do It!”
by Tzvi Fishman
“The Mouse Made Me Do It!” is a clear, illuminating, and in-depth Torah guide, designed to help people who suffer from an addiction to pornography on the Internet. It is also designed to give people the understanding needed to break free from masturbation and other sexual transgressions, according to the teachings of the Torah and the Kabbalah. The famous “Twelve Step Program” in battling addiction is converted to a dynamic Torah approach to overcoming the powerful temptation of the web. The knowledge presented will allow people to regain control of their lives, break free of negative habits, and direct their energies in healthier, more positive paths by forging an active, joy-filled connection to God.