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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.

       

      Av 15, 5771, 8/15/2011

      The Three Oath Excuse


      Since there still seems to be some confusion surrounding the “Three Oaths,” let’s have Rabbi Meir Kahane explain the matter, by posting another one of his essays from the incredible seven-volume set, “Beyond Words,” which is like an encyclopedia of the major Jewish Issues of our times, as seen through the laser-true vision of the holy Rabbi.

       

      But first, I would like to say a huge “yasher koach” to the initiater, compiler, and editor of this monumental publication, Mr. David Fein, who labored for a decade to bring it to pass. All too often, the people behind the scenes go unnoticed. But the truth is that the Jewish People wouldn’t have achieved such grandeur without all of the silent heroes who have contributed whatever they could to the overall good of the nation. A person should never say, “Who am I to think that I can contribute something substantial to the betterment of Am Yisrael?” The Creator has blessed everyone with his, or her, personal unique gifts. When a person focuses his talents and powers, bolsters his willpower, and rises up from his own individual concerns to devote himself to the “Clal,” to the all-encompassing community of Israel, then he becomes a partner with our holy Forefathers, and with the chain of Jewish builders throughout history, so that in carrying out his righteous contribution, he has a full share in all of the work that has gone into preserving and building our nation throughout all of its generations. To him comes G-d’s promise, “And as for you, I will bestow upon you great reward, as if you yourselves had done it all” (Avot, 2:2).

          

      And now, to the matter of the “Three Oaths,” through the vast Torah scholarship and crystal-clear prism of Rabbi Meir Kahane:

       

      The Three Oaths”

       

        “‘And you shall inherit them and you shall dwell in their land’ (Deuteronomy 12:29). The dwelling in the Land of Israel is equal to all the mitzvot in the Torah.” (Sifri, Re’eh 80)

        “A man should dwell in the Land of Israel, even in a city with a majority of non-Jews, rather than outside of the land, even in a city of Jews.” (Tosefta, Avoda Zara 5:2)

       

        “What are these three oaths? One that Jews should not go up to the land as a wall (together with force — Rashi); one that Jews should not rebel against the nations of the world; and one that the Holy One, Blessed Be He, made the nations swear not to enslave the Jews too much.” (Ketuvot 111a)

       

        “It is a sin to go live in Israel! It was a sin to create the state!” For the Talmud clearly tells us that the Jews were sworn not to go up “as a wall,” by force, and not to rebel against the nations! Our opposition to a state? Our refusal to go live in Israel? Far from a sin, we are the upholders of Torah! Such is the argument of some of our people . . . .

       

      Once and for all, let them be answered because failure to do so convincingly cost us the lives of countless Jews who might otherwise have attempted to go up to the land in the years before World War II.

        “V’hu yachel l’hoshiya et Yisroel m’yad Plishtim. And he [Samson] will begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5)

        “Rabbi Chama, son of Rabbi Chanina, said: ‘The oath of Avimelech was violated [by the Philistines].’” Meaning: the word yachel can also come from the root meaning ‘to violate.’ And so Rabbi Chama says that the meaning here is as follows: Abraham and the king of the Philistines, Avimelech, swore unto each other that, for the length of the lives of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, each people would not harm the other. Rabbi Chama says that the Philistine’s oath was violated, and thus no longer in force — it was annulled. Why? Rashi says: “Because they broke the oath first [by persecuting the Jews]” (Sotah 9b-10a).

        And so we have a rule laid down here. Where a Jew and a gentile are both bound by an oath, the violation by the gentile frees the Jew from his obligation! And more, even when there is no explicit obligation on the part of the gentile, a violation of his implicit obligation is enough to free the Jew from his. And this is seen in the words of the Ramban (Nachmanides) on the commandment (Deuteronomy 23:7), “You shall not seek their peace and their good [the Ammonites and the Moabites] all your days, forever.” Says the Ramban: “And the verse (also says, ibid., 2:9): ‘You shall not distress Moab, nor provoke war with them’ (and there appears to be a contradiction between the commandment not to go to war with them and not to seek their peace). If so, the verse ‘do not seek their peace’ commands us if we are fighting for a city that they themselves conquered (and which was not originally theirs) — or if they come to fight in our land then we are allowed to pursue them and capture their territories . . . and thus did David do to all the Ammonite cities because they broke the obligation first and fought us and therefore we are not obligated to call out in peace.”

        Again, the rule is clear. The Jew is obligated by an oath? Fine; of course he must obey it — as long as the gentile obeys his oath. But when the gentile violates his obligation, the Jew is similarly freed from his.

        Yes, there was an oath that the Jew was sworn to uphold — neither to go up by force en masse nor to rebel against the nations. But the All Mighty gave the nations their own oath, their own limitation: Do not enslave my people too much! What happened to this oath? It went up in flames in Auschwitz and in Kishinev and in the Crusades and with Chmielnicki and with the millions of Jewish dead and tortured and martyred. Every Jewish woman who was violated was a violation of the gentile’s oath. It went up in smoke in the gas chambers of every generation. The gentiles sneered at the oath and annulled it. The Jewish oath was tied to that of the gentile’s. When the one was ripped to shreds, the other died too.

        There is no oath that the All Mighty forces on a people that suffered as we did at the hands of murderers and liars, too. Those who stay in the Galut are the hypocritical Pharisees of which the Talmud (Sotah 22) speaks. They are not in the impurities of America because of piety and sworn obligation. All these wrap themselves in an oath that died long ago in the blood of Jews. There is no oath except the one at Sinai that gave us a land of our own in which to live.

       

      March 1978

       

      “Beyond Words” can be ordered online at Amazon Books:     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



      Av 13, 5771, 8/13/2011

      Ask Your Local Rabbi


      During the week, we will take a look at some other “tell it like it is” essays of Rabbi Meir Kahane from the amazing new seven-volume collection, “Beyond Words.” For the moment, as is our custom, we will take a look at the Torah portion we read on Shabbat, to what we can learn from it. After all, that’s why we it. The Torah isn’t some ancient document that had no bearing on our lives, G-d forbid. The Torah is the living Divine guide on how we are to conduct our lives. There are many things to learn in this week’s portion of “Va’etchanan,” but we will concentrate on one thing that the Torah repeats again and again.

      As we have written in the past, we are to learn from our Forefathers. The accounts of their lives come to teach us how we are to live. They are our fathers. We are their children. We are to model our lives after the example they set. Their aspirations are to be our aspirations. So, right at the beginning of the Torah portion, we find Moshe Rabbeinu, our teacher, pleaded with G-d to let him enter the Holy Land. Our Sages told us that Moshe pleaded, cajoled, begged, entreated, beseeched, appealed, implored, prayed, invoked, supplicated, cried, petitioned, nagged, even sang. Finally, G-d had to order him to cease. More than anything else, Moshe wanted to enter the Holy land. After all, it was the goal of his mission, to bring the Jews into the Promised Land. Moreover, it is the goal of the Torah. To truly live the Torah, you have to be in the Holy Land. The Torah was given to the Jews to be performed in the Holy Land. G-d didn’t want the Jews to settle down in the wilderness with the Torah. That isn’t the real Torah. The Torah isn’t just putting on tefillin, eating glatt kosher hamburgers, and observing Shabbat. The Torah is building a holy nation in the Land of Israel, so that all the nations of the world will learn that they have to serve G-d too – not just on Sunday mornings in their private lives, but all of the world’s government must bow to Hashem, and that is something that they can only learn through the holy national life of the Nation of Israel in Eretz Yisrael.     

      But you don’t have to take my word for it. Look at what Moshe tells us again and again in this week’s Torah portion:

      “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, to the statutes and to the judgments which I teach you to do them, in order that you may live and go in and possess the Land which the L-rd G-d of your fathers gives you” (Devarim, 4:1)

      Now, I grew up in America. I went to a fancy phony boarding school in New England. I went to college and took all kinds of courses in English. I memorized all the rules of William Strunk & E.B. White’s “The Elements of Style.” Please take another look at the verse above. There are two parts to the sentence. The first clause says what G-d expects from the Jews. The second clause tells why. The first part of the sentence expresses the means to carry out the goal. The means are the statutes and judgments of the Torah. The goal is to live a Torah life in Israel, as it says, “in order that you may live and go in and possess the Land which the L-rd G-d of your fathers gives you.”

      Let’s take another example, a few verses on: “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the L-rd my G-d commanded me, that you should act accordingly in the Land whither you go in to possess it” (Devarim, 4:5).  Once again, we are told that G-d gave us the commandments in order that we keep them in the Land. The goal is not merely keeping the commandments, but rather keeping them in the Land, the only place where most of the commandments can be kept. And of course, lest someone have any doubts, the Land which the Torah refers to is the Holy Land, not America, Germany, Australia, or England.

      Let’s go on. Once again, Moshe tells them: “And the L-rd commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might do them in the Land into which you go over to possess it” (Devarim, 4:14).

      My dear brothers and sisters – is there something not clear about this? Maybe the first time you hear it. But the second time, and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth. The goal of the Torah is to observe it in Eretz Yisrael. That’s why Moshe repeats it again and again. There are several similar examples in this Torah portion, but my fingers are tired from typing. You can read them yourselves.     

      Print out this blog, take it to your local rabbi, and ask him if I’m wrong. I don’t see any other way of explaining these verses, do you? Let me know if he says something different. I’d be very interested to learn. Maybe Moshe made a mistake. Maybe when he told us (Devarim, 6:3), “Hear therefore, O Yisrael, and take care to do it, that it may be well with thee, and that you may increase mightily, as the L-rd G-d of your fathers has promised thee, in the Land that flows with milk and honey,” maybe Moshe stuttered and really meant to say, “in the Land that flows with milk and money.”

      Ask your local rabbi. I’d be happy to know his response.



      Av 11, 5771, 8/11/2011

      Beyond Words


       

      I admit that I am a pathetic hack writer in comparison to the towering brilliance and Torah genius of Rabbi Meir Kahane, of blessed memory, may Hashem revenge his murder. Rabbi Kahane was the first to write about the plight of Jews in Soviet Russia. Rabbi Kahane was the first to warn America Jews in his writings about the dangers of assimilation. In his essays and articles, Rabbi Kahane was the first to call American Jews to wake up and come on aliyah. Rabbi Kahane was the first to write that Israel must oust the Arab enemies within its borders. Rabbi Kahane was the first to write that Israel mustn’t be afraid to stand up to the goyim, with absolute faith in Hashem alone.

           

      Beyond Words

       

      Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the JDL and Kach, published 22 books and authored well over 1,000 articles before being assassinated in 1990. Some of his books are available online and at select bookstores, but until last week, the overwhelming majority of his articles were only available in old issues of “The Jewish Press”, “Kahane” magazine, and other publications. Now, after a ten-year effort, a seven-volume set containing many of these articles has just been published. Called Beyond Words: Selected Writings, 1960-1990, the collection spans 3,500 pages with some of the best articles that Rabbi Kahane ever wrote.

       

      In addition to the many articles on Judaism, Zionism, Jewish identity, Israel’s future, the Holocaust, assimilation, territorial concessions, revenge, and peace, Beyond Words also includes several indexes in Volume 7 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.

       

      “Beyond Words” can be ordered online at Amazon.com by typing “Beyond Words Kahane” on the search line, or at this link:

      http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=beyond+words+kahane

       

      Here for your reading pleasure is a sample of Rabbi Kahane’s incomparable insight, honesty, clarity of expression, love for the Jewish People, love for the Land of Israel, love for the Torah, and uncompromising love for G-d.

       

      Goodbye Wall

       

      They come in all sizes and shapes, complexions and complexes, in fusion and confusion, from East and West and North and South. They are Jews; they are tourists; they come to see it. It. The Wall. They come with beards and kaftan — direct from Williamsburg; they come with Rabbinical Council mustaches, from Flatbush and Kew Garden Hills; they come with black yarmulkas to signify Agudah and knitted ones to shout their support and empathy with Zvulun Hammer; they come with no yarmulkas and are given them by their local American Jewish Congress tour guide; they come with no yarmulkas and wear the cardboard type that the keepers of the wall dispense; they come with whatever they come with. To see It. The Wall.

       

        They come with familiarity (some having been to Israel seven, eight, ten times), having reached the rank of resident tourist. Usually these are Orthodox Jews who come up to the Wall with confident strides as if to shake the hand of a familiar acquaintance. Others are not sure just what they have to do, how they are required to act, and they stand uncomfortably and nervously, glancing about to see what the others are doing. Still others stand, just stand before the Wall — thinking, meditating, praying, talking, whispering, weeping.

       

        And then they leave. They have been to the Land, been to Zion, been to Jerusalem, the Holy City, and been to see It. And then they leave. They leave behind their money, their tour guides, their little notes they wrapped into a small ball or wad and left in the crevices of the Wall. They leave the Land and Zion and Jerusalem, the Holy City, and It. The Wall. They go back to Great Neck and Boston and Los Angeles and Miami and, of course, Washington Heights and Monsey and Williamsburg and Boro Park. They leave Old Jerusalem for newer ones and the Wall for Wall Street because they must. To see Israel is to enjoy an experience beyond comparison. To see Jerusalem, the Holy City, is to gather a treasury of memories beyond price. To see the Wall is to experience a thrill that is indescribable. But everything has its time and its place and all good tours must come to an end. Israel is the finest of all places to visit but not even it is for them to live there.

       

        And so they leave. The beards and the beardless, the Orthodox (ultra and neuter), Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Humanist, agnostic, atheist . . . . They leave. For “home.” And I often wonder: When they came, they ran to say hello to the Wall. When they leave, do they make a point to say goodbye?

       

        And, indeed, how does one say goodbye to the Wall? What does one say to It? Does one stand there and daven Mincha, pray the Afternoon service that says: “And may our eyes behold Your return to Zion . . . ” and then say to It: “Well, I suppose I have to go now. The business can’t shut down for more than three weeks. Take care of yourself and let’s hope that He returns soon . . . ?” Does one shake the Wall’s vegetation in lieu of a hand and does one kiss it — kiss it Goodbye? If one knows that the Shechina, the Divine Presence, never left the Wall, how does one say goodbye to Him? What does one, who is leaving Israel for the Exile that we are told finds him with no G-d and worshipping idolatry in “purity,” say to the Divine Presence at the Wall?

       

        I suppose that it is all this that finds most people leaving Israel without saying goodbye to It. I suppose that especially the ones whose heart and conscience are not as stone cannot say to the Wall whose stones are as hearts: Goodbye, I am violating a basic tenet of Judaism; I betray my Land; I go back to the fleshpots and materialism of the Exile and thus forsake you.

       

        But I also wonder what the Wall says and thinks as It watches the Jews who come to visit as casually as if they were taking a trip (as so many more do lately) to Puerto Rico and Spain and Aruba and Rome. I wonder what It thinks as It looks at the hordes of tourists who come to touch It, fondle It, kiss It, stare at It, memorialize It in their film (still and motion) — and then go back to the lands that they consider their real homes. I wonder what It thinks as It watches the Jews pray and sway and bay at It. I wonder what It thinks as It watches the ritual and idol worship that has been built about It by the American Jewish Congress, the Ministry of Tourism and the UJA. I wonder what It thinks as It watches the Orthodox Jews from New Frankfurt on the Heights and the majesty of Crown Heights and sees all the “religious Jews” on their three-week vacation before going back to idolatry.

       

        Surely, this last remnant of the Temple, in which preached the Prophets who inveighed against hypocrisy, remembers their words and repeats them to the descendants. Surely it repeats the words: “When you come to appear before Me, who sought this from your hand, to trample My courtyards? Bring no more worthless offerings, incense of abomination they are to Me. As for New Moons and Sabbaths and your calling of assemblies, I cannot abide iniquity along with solemn meeting . . . ” (Isaiah 1:12-13).

       

        The Wall looks at those who come to honor It and at that very moment plan to betray the Land and abominate it by leaving for an Exile they call “home” — and repeats: “Behold, to obey is better than a sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams” (Samuel I 15:22).

       

        They leave the Wall for “home.” They refuse to dwell in the Land of this Wall. It knows that that which they plan — peace and security in the Galut — will never be. It knows that if they reject the wall of the All Mighty, that there will be other walls for them: walls of fire and walls of prisons and camps. The Galut is one huge wall for the Jew — though he refuses to see it.

       

      If one comes to the Wall late, very late at night and listens carefully, very carefully, he can hear the Wall. It weeps softly to itself and says: “Woe unto my people for their humiliation of the Land . . . . ” And it seems to me that the Wall would prefer that those who say goodbye to it, would not bid it hello.

      September 16, 1977

       

       

       

       



      Av 8, 5771, 8/8/2011

      Exile Blues


      On Tisha B’Av, we mourn over the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, over the destruction of Jerusalem, and over being exiled from our Land. Unfortunately, because of the great length and darkness of the exile, there is a totally mistaken and distorted understanding of what exile is. Instead of experiencing it as a terrible punishment, it is sometimes experienced as a pleasant place.

      In his weekly Torah lecture, Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, and son of the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, of blessed memory, related that he was once in the Diaspora with his father. “One of the Jews in the synagogue approached me and said that he would consider moving to Israel, but that it was too dangerous. When he said it, I felt like tearing my shirt in mourning. I felt like throwing myself down on the floor and beg G-d to forgive us for our sins. In the darkness of exile, people don’t see that assimilation is eating us up alive, and that in a generation or two, all will be finished, no longer will their children be Jews! As for the Orthodox, who will save them when the gentiles turn their wrath against them again? As our prophets declared, “Only in Zion will there be a refuge.”   

      My beloved brothers and sisters in exile, don’t let the past three or four decades of calm deceive you. Don’t think that the exile is a thing of the past. The exile continues today. And the exile is a terrible curse. Make no mistake about it. The exile is the worst punishment that there is for our nation.

      Rabbi Eliahu explained:

      THE EXILE PAINS HASHEM

      If a father has to throw a child out of the house, it pains the father as well as the son. The Talmud teaches that Hashem cries over His children in galut. Three times a day, He cries out, “Woe to the Father who has cast His children into the lands of the heathens… and woe to the children who have been banished from their Father’s table,” (Berachot 3A).

      THE EXILE IS A CHILLUL HASHEM

      When the gentiles see the Jews living in their countries, they say, “These are the children of G-d who have been cast out of His Land. G-d doesn’t have the power to guard over them in their Land. We succeeded to uproot them, and their G-d was powerless to help them” (See Ezekiel, 36:20-24).

      JEWS ARE HELPLESS IN THE EXILE

      When a child is thrown out of the house, he doesn’t have anyone to protect him. Throughout the exile, we were persecuted and slaughtered. Over the centuries, millions and millions of Jews were mercilessly killed. Wherever we wandered, sooner or later, the gentiles turned their wrath against us.

      THE EXILE ALIENATES JEWS FROM G-D

      When a child is thrown out of his house, he is cast away from his father. The exile distances us from G-d, as King David said when he was forced to leave the Land, “For they have driven me out this day from being joined to the inheritance of the L-rd, saying, Go and serve other gods” (Shmuel 1:26:19). The Gemara in Ketubot explains that living outside the Land of Israel is like serving other gods, because the exiled Jew is cast out of his Father’s house. Rabbi Elazar said, “From the day the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, and iron wall was drawn between Israel and their Father in Heaven” (Berachot 32B).

      THE EXILE GIVES STRENGTH TO THE GENTILES

      The Ramban explains that when Jews are in exile, their prayers and Torah learning goes up to the celestial angels that Hashem has placed over the nations, giving them strength to rule over Israel (Ramban on the Torah, Achre Mot, 18:25).

      THE EXILE SHRINKS THE TORAH

      Without the Land of Israel, Jewish statehood, the Temple, and Sanhedrin, Jews outside the Land have one “four cubits of Halachah,” the individual laws governing the private mitzvot like tefillin, kashrut, and Shabbat. The rest of the Torah, over two-thirds of the Mishna, cannot be practiced. Thus the Gemara states, “There is no greater bitul Torah (neglect of Torah) than this.” Why? The prophet answers, “For the herd of the L-rd has gone into captivity,” (Yirmeahu 13).

      IN THE EXILE THERE IS NO PROPHECY

      In foreign lands, Israel has no prophecy, its most unique connection to G-d. As it says, “Her king and her princes are among the nations; there is no Torah; her prophets also find no vision from the L-rd” (Lamentations, 2:9).

      EXILE CUTS OFF OUR PRAYERS

      Jerusalem is the gateway to Heaven, the place where all prayers ascend. In the exile, the gates of prayer are closed, as its says, “Even when I cry and call for help, He stops up my prayer” (Lamentations, 3:9). Only the gate of tears remains open.

      THE EXILE DESTROYS MALCHUT HASHEM

      Malchut Hashem, the Kingdom of G-d, in the world is manifested by the the Kingdom of Israel in Eretz Yisrael. When Jewish sovereignty is lost over Israel, the Jews are not merely scattered amongst the nations, the Kingship of G-d is destroyed and the Shechinah goes into exile as well. Foreign powers seem to rule in G-d’s place, and the Jews become servants to foreign regimes, as if G-d lacks the power to rule over His people alone.

      IN EXILE, JUSTICE AND PEACE ARE LOST

      From Jerusalem, the world is to learn the true path of justice. In the future, all of the nations will come to Jerusalem to learn from Sages of Israel how to truly base justice in their countries and how to serve G-d in world peace.

      IN EXILE, BLESSING IS LOST

      The Talmud teaches that when Israel dwells in its Land and obeys the will of Hashem, rain comes in fullness and the world is filled with blessing (Baba Batra 25B). Only when all of Israel is gathered in our own Land can we be free of foreign dependency  

      IN EXILE, THERE IS NO JOY

      The Psalmist laments, “How can I sing the L-rd’s song in a foreign land?” (Tehillim 137). Only when we return to Zion can our hearts be filled with joy, as it says, “Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with ringing song”(Tehillim 126).

      IN EXILE THE SHECHINAH IS IN TORMENT

      One Shavuot night in the exile, the Shechinah spoke to Rabbi Yosef Karo, author of the “Shulchan Aruch,” and said: “If you only knew of only one one-hundred thousandth of the pain that I must suffer here, you would never have any joy in your heart, when you recall that because of you I have been cast into the dust.” Then the Shechinah told Rabbi Yosef Caro that if he wanted to cleave to Hashem, he and his students should go on aliyah to the Land of Israel.

      May the day soon come when Tisha B’Av will be transformed into a day of joy, for all who mourn over Jerusalem will merit to see her joyous  rebuilding. Amen.    

       

       

       



      Av 5, 5771, 8/5/2011

      The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself


      Time flies my good friends. Time flies. For those of you who are still wallowing in the darkness of galut, all of my efforts have failed. I am heartbroken. Beloved brothers are drowning in quicksand and don’t even reach out their hands to be freed. True, some readers have been influenced by my writings. There are even fortunate ones who, hearing the call, have peeled away the layers and layers of Diaspora darkness and come to live in the Holy Land, to bathe in its celestial light. But as our Sages have taught us, at the end of galut, the Holy One Blessed Be He Himself will have to come and forcefully drag the Jews out from the exile by their peyes in order to bring them home.   

      Once again, we are beginning to read the Book of Devarim, and once again, we will repeat its simple lesson, in the hope that this year, Hashem will open the eyes of our brothers and sisters in their self-imposed captivity in foreign gentile lands to see the eternal truth of the Torah.

      This time, it’s not Tzvi Fishman, but Moshe Rabbeinu himself who tells the Diaspora lovers that the time has come to go to Israel, as it says: “Moshe began to explain the Torah, saying, The L-rd our G-d spoke to us in Horev saying: ‘You have dwelt long enough in this mountain – turn and take up your journey! Behold, I have set the Land before you: go in and possess the Land which the L-rd swore to your forefathers, Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov, to give to them and to their seed after them’” (Devarim, 1:6-8).

      “To their seed after them” – that’s us. You and me. G-d gave us the Land of Israel to possess it. You and me. He wants us to live there. Can anything be more simple than that?

      What is so difficult to understand? What is so confusing? Where is there room for doubt?

      To be absolutely certain that the Jews understood, and to be sure that all of their offspring, for all generations to come, would also understand the simple meaning of these words, G-d had Moshe explain this command in 70 languages (see Rashi, there) so that the Jews living in America, and Russia, and France, and Spain, and Brazil, and Holland, and Germany, and Italy, and every other country of the Diaspora would also understand that G-d wants us to live in Israel. Comprenez vous?

      Our Sages teach us that the seeds of the Temple’s destruction were planted on the night (Tisha B’Av) when the Jews in the wilderness rejected the Divine command to journey on to the Land of Israel. The people who rebelled against the commandment of living in Israel were rebelling against Hashem, as the Torah testifies, “And when the L-rd sent you from Kadesh Barnea, saying, ‘Go up and possess the Land which I gave you,’ and you rebelled against the L-rd your G-d, and you did not believe in Me and did not listen to My voice” (Devarim, 9:3).

      This week, as Tisha B’Av nears, I visited the graves of some of our holy Tzaddikim, to pray for the ingathering of our exiles, that Hashem put in our hearts a love and passion for Eretz Yisrael, as a tikun for the sin of the Spies, whose rejection of the Land led to the Temple’s destruction and to the destruction of the nation. I started at the graves of Rabbi Kook (who made aliyah) and his son, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda, on the Mount of Olives. Then I visited the graves of the great Kabbalist, the Chida, and Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi, Rabbi Shlomo Calebach, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, and Rabbi Yisrael Odessa of Breslov, Rabbi Meir Kahane, all buried on Har HaMenuchot. Then, after praying at the tomb of the prophet Shmuel, I drove up to Meron and prayed at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. In Safed, I prayed at the graves of the Arizal and Rabbi Yosef Caro. In Tiberias, I prayed at the tombs of the Rambam, the Shlah HaKadosh, Rabbi Akiva, the Ramcal, and Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess. The following morning, I drove to Hevron to pay my respects Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaacov, Sarah, Rivka, Leah, and to Rachel in Beit Lechem, praying that, in their merit, G-d gather our scattered outcasts from Brooklyn and Melbourne and Palm Springs and Mexico City, by filling their hearts with a love for Israel and the courage to make aliyah, in order to rectify the sin of the Spies who trembled when they saw the giants in the Land, just like those who tremble today at the “giant” missiles of Iran which, they scream, are pointed our way.

      After visiting our holy Forefathers and some of the holy Sages of our past, the giants of our history who so cherished our Land, and lived here in their towering faith, and often journeyed months to reach here, and live here, even in poverty and danger, my heart was filled with faith that G-d would surely answer my prayers and instill in the hearts of all of my brothers and sisters the very same love for the Land and the same holy courage that our forefathers possessed, thereby rectifying the sin of the Spies and paving the way for the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash.

      May it be soon!

      Shabbat shalom!