Inside Israel 4:44 AM
Jewish World 12:14 AM 3/10/2014
Middle East 2:15 AM
The Jay Shapiro Hour
Torah Tidbits Audio
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.
Once again this week, we were asked to host some Birthright visitors for a Shabbat meal. This time I passed. We had some of my wife’s family coming from out of town, and when I have to speak English to the American kids, it draws attention away from the family reunion.
I think the Birthright program is a positive thing on the American Jewish agenda, but, as I have said in the past, it’s not the real McCoy. You do a disservice to Israel when you turn it into a ten-day Disneyworld tour. Even when the visit comes to strengthen Jewish identity, the Land of Israel is much much more than a fix of Jewish adrenaline. The Land of Israel is much more than a cool place to visit to feel proud to be a Jew. Rabbi Kook writes: “this orientation to the Land of Israel is not worthy of lasting fruition, for the foundation of this concept is rickety in light of the towering, unshakable holiness of Eretz Yisrael” (Orot, 1:1).
Let’s face it. Most of the Birthright kids return to America, and after a short time back in their gentile universities and colleges, getting stoned out of their minds and shacking up with all of the easy Miss American co-eds, any Jewish pride that they gained in Israel vanishes in Suzy and Sally and Cindy’s embrace.
For a Jew, the Land of Israel isn’t a place to visit. It is THE place for a Jew to live. Turning it into a Jewish Disneyland is a travesty. It’s a distortion of all the Torah. It’s turning everything upside down. This has to be clear. If you don’t tell the Birthright kids that they really belong in Israel, and that America is nowheres-ville for a Jew, you’re dooming them to live out their lives in delusion.
A far better Birthright program is contained in the Torah portion we read on Shabbat, and in the portion we will be reading this week, concerning the tribes of Reuven and Gad, and the half tribe of Menashe. The Torah states: “Take the sum of all of the congregation of the Children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, by their father’s houses, everyone who is able to go to the army in Israel” (Bamidbar, 26:2).
First of all, notice that we are called the Children of Israel. As we have explained elsewhere, the term “Jew” is an invention of the Diaspora, referring to the Israelites from the tribe of Yehuda who were exiled from Eretz Yisrael. We are Israelites. All of us. No matter where we live. We are the Children of Israel. We belong to the Nation of Israel. Not to America, England, Germany, or Canada.
Secondly, the Torah calls upon every male to enter the Israeli army upon reaching the age of twenty. Now, I ask you – why should my sons be required to enlist in Tzahal, while the sons of American Jews are Scott free to get stoned every day, advance their careers, and play tennis with Suzy, Sally, Cindy, and Samantha? As Children of Israel, they belong in the Israeli army too!
Therefore, the Government of Israel, along with the Bronfmans, Steinhardts, and many other fine Jews, should inaugurate a new program, “Birthright II,” whereby every Diaspora Jew, upon reaching 20, will have to donate three years of army service to Israel, just like my kids. In my opinion, everyone should start when they are 18, like my kids, before they start college and contact venereal disease from Sally and Cindy, and wipe out half of their brain cells with all kinds of spiked and “colossal” drugs. The boys will join the Israeli army, in special units geared for English speakers. Knowing in advance that a 3 year obligation will cause American Jews to rise up in arms, we will make a special dispensation and require only 2 years of army service instead. The weak of heart, who don’t want to be combat soldiers, will be able to fill out their service by working in army kitchens, cleaning the lavatories, painting warehouses, and the like. Girls will also be required to serve at least one year, as part of the “Sherut Leumi National Israel Service Program,” just like my daughter is doing. They will work in non-army positions, all around the country, in hospitals, day-care centers, kindergartens and the like.
This way, instead of being just a fun and soon forgotten Disneyland visit to Israel, the new “Birthright II” will be, first of all, an obligation, letting every Diaspora youth know that he is a 100% official Israeli. Secondly, by the end of their 1 to 3 year program, they will speak Hebrew, think like real Israelis, and be Sabras through and through, instead of being JAPS. In addition, most of them will want to stay in Israel at the end of their service, saving them from wasting the rest of their lives in America and marrying out of the faith.
As for America’s “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews, there will be special Haredi programs combining army service and Torah study, with all of the glatt-kosher gefilta fish you can eat.
Having been the first director of “Volunteers For Israel” (Sarel) in America, and one of the organization’s founders, I am certain the program could work. (In fact, for a salary of $400,000 per year, I might consider accepting the CEO position of “Birthright II.”)
I would like to hear your feedback and suggestions about this bold and revolutionary new project. Outside of immediate aliyah, it’s the only thing I can think of to save the endangered kids of the Diaspora from turning into an extinct species, G-d forbid. Of course, it will require a great amount of funding, but the money is there (if America’s economy doesn’t crash next week as some heavyweight Israeli Kabbalists have been predicting as the next stage of Mashiach.) And, of course, parents, rabbis, educators, and the Diaspora Jewish establishment will have to start singing a new tune, putting the emphasis on “A New Future in Israel,” rather than expanding the local shul, making money in America, and lounging with the Sisterhood girls around the Federation pool.
Later in the week, we will continue this great call and challenge with a discussion of Reuven, Gad, and the half tribe of Menashe.
In the meantime, Shavuah tov!
A few blog readers have complained that shipping rates make my online books too expensive to order. So I have asked my online distributor to slash prices and run a special summer sale for your reading pleasure. At the conclusion of this blog, you will find a rundown of the books. G-d willing, my novel, “Tevye in the Promised Land,” will be available in another week.
This Shabbat, we read the Torah portion of “Pinchus.” Last week, we read how 24,000 Israelites of the tribe of Shimon took Moav sluts into their tents and were all killed in a plague of G-d’s anger. Please note that this is eight times those who were killed over the sin of the Golden Calf. This shows us that the Almighty despises sexual transgression more than any other sin, as it says in the holy Zohar:
“For we have learned that the Holy One Blessed Be He has no greater zealousness than His zealousness over the holy Brit, for this Brit is the secret of the Sacred Name and the secret of faith. As is written, ‘And the people began to commit harlotry with the daughters of Moav,’ (Bamidbar, 25:1) then, immediately afterward, ‘And the anger of the L-rd was kindled against Israel.’”
This all came about upon the advice of the wicked Bilaam. After his curses failed, he told Balak to send the Moav and Midianite sluts into the camps of Israel, in order to entice them into transgression, precisely because he knew that nothing arouses G-d’s wrath more than sexual immorality.
Today, Bilaam’s strategy is being carried out by the purveyors of Internet smut. As we have said in the past, when a Jew enters immodest websites, he short-circuits his connection to G-d. As the Arizal teaches, the ענג pleasure he experiences turns into געע a plague. He pollutes, not only his own soul, but brings myriads of damaging spiritual agents into his home with each new click on the mouse. This is the reason I wrote the book, “The Mouse Made Me Do It!” My dear, brothers and sisters, I am not crying wolf. This warning is based on the 100% foolproof teachings of our holiest Sages. Each time you grab the mouse and guide it toward a forbidden site, you are playing Russian roulette. The damage you cause yourself and your household holds true whether you watch X-rated material or the candy-coated sleaze you can find all over youtube.
What can you do? First, get a reliable filter. In Israel, Rimon has an excellent product. For Diasporians, the K9 Web Protection.com filter has a high rating. But let someone else hold the code. Even if you fancy yourself a tzaddik, our Sages have warned that no one is immune to these temptations, and that there is not a righteous man who does good, but doesn’t have some sin, precisely in these matters.
And don’t fool yourselves into thinking that it isn’t such a big deal, that you aren’t affected by it, that it’s not really hard porn, or that it’s just to get you into the mood so you can do the mitzvah with your wife.
Zimri, the head of the tribe of Shimon, also had noble intentions. He believed that by having relations with the Midianite slut, he could raise her up spiritually and convert her to the one and only true faith. But all of the best intentions won’t shield a person who violates a prohibition of the Torah, as Zimri shortly discovered when Pinchus’s javelin pierced through his loins in the midst of his fornication.
A Jew is to conduct his marital relations in holiness as the Zohar teaches:
“When is a man called ‘one?’ When the man and his wife are together, and he sanctifies himself with an exalted holiness, and his intention is directed toward sanctification. Behold, when a man is engaged in marital relations, and he strives to sanctify the act in the proper fashion, then he is whole and is called ‘one’ without blemish. For this reason, a man should make his wife happy at this time, in order that they should share the same desire and the same intention. And when they are united in this manner, then they are completely one; one soul and one body. Their soul is one through their shared desire to cleave one to the other. And their body is one, for as we have learned, a man who is not married is in a state of separation, and only when male and female are united do they form one body. Thus, they are one soul and one body, and are called one person. Then the Holy One Blessed Be He rests upon that oneness, and infuses it (the offspring of that holy union) with a spirit of holiness. These (offspring) are the ones referred to as, ‘sons of the Holy One Blessed Be He,’ as has been said, and thus it is written, ‘Be holy, for I, the L-rd, am holy.’” (Zohar, Vayikra 81b).
In contrast, the Zohar teaches, when a man gazes at forbidden things, he brings impurity upon himself, comparable to worshipping idols:
‘We have learned, it is forbidden for a man to gaze upon the beauty of a woman, so that he should not come to have evil thoughts and thus be incited to something worse. For this reason, when Rabbi Shimon had to walk through the town, followed by his disciples, whenever he came to a place that beautiful women were apt to be found, he would to lower his eyes and say to his companions, ‘Do not turn aside after foreign gods.’ For whoever gazes at the beauty of a woman by day, will have sinful thoughts at night. And if these evil thoughts overcome him, he transgresses the commandment, ‘Thou shall not make for yourselves molten gods.’ Furthermore, if he has marital relations with his wife while thinking about these evil images, the children born from such union are called ‘molten gods.’ For this reason, it is written, ‘Do not turn astray after their gods,’ and, ‘Thou shall not make for yourselves molten gods’” (Zohar, Vayikra 84a).
Readers can find more passages from the Zohar on this theme on our website www.jewishsexuality.com. An in-depth study of the subject, including a guide how to escape from the clutches of pornography addiction, is contained in the book, “The Mouse Made Me Do It!”
As for the summer book sale, here’s a selection of reduced titles:
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.
Dad A Novel
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."
Days of Mashiach Short Stories
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.
The Discman and the Guru
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.
Eretz Yisrael The Teachings of HaRav Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook
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.
The Art of T'shuva - The Teachings of HaRav Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook by Rabbi David Samson and Tzvi Fishman
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.
Books can also be ordered through Amazon Books.
It didn’t take long for the US State Department to issue a strident condemnation of the talkback laws which appeared yesterday in the Israel National News blog, “Hollywood to the Holy Land,” written by novelist, Tzvi Fishman.
State Department spokesman, Steve Stevens, said: “The rules set forth in Fishman’s blog are racist and a clear violation of the principle of free speech which America holds so important. They are an affront to every homosexual, Christian, and free thinker. It is no coincidence that this deplorable enactment immediately followed the new law passed by the Israeli Knesset which bans boycotts against segments of the Israeli population. We are very concerned with this dangerous swing to the right and are keeping watch on the situation.”
Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, issued a terse statement to the press later in the afternoon. “While I usually enjoy Mr. Fishman’s blogs, and agree that all Jews should get out of America and move to Israel, his ban on gay priests is a crime against humanity and a stain on the proud pluralistic history of the Jewish People.”
Murry Wolfman, head of the powerful, New York based, Anti-Semitism Conference, also was quick to join the condemnation. “This is not the Israel we believe in. People like Fishman, Baruch Marzal, and Yaacov Katz are ruining the country. If the religious take over, they will ban anyone who doesn’t practice Orthodoxy. This dangerous neo-fascism must be cut off in the bud.”
Meanwhile, in an unusual alliance, the Vatican has joined forces with the World Committee for Gay Gays in issuing a joint statement condemning Fishman’s ban on missionizing and homosexuality. “What is the difference between the blog ‘Hollywood to the Holy Land’ and Nazi Germany?” their announcement asks, adding, “Of all people, the Jews should behave with a higher standard.” WCGG chairman, Bruce Luce, says that he has already sign up 200 gays and clergymen who will be setting out on a flotilla from Rome to Israel, in protest of the blog.
About 50 gays, dressed only in their underpants, were waiting for Fishman to leave his apartment building for morning prayers. The demonstrators held up signs reading, “Gays Are Not Goys!” But the crowd soon dispersed when they learned that Fishman had left his home before dawn to pray at the Kotel.
Issuing a statement on Fishman’s behalf, the “Cyberspace Coalition of Bloggers” said: “The attacks against a fellow blogger are insidious and resemble the kind of nefarious actions we are seeing in Iran and Syria.”
In a brief telephone comment, the controversial INN blogger said, “My detractors are not up in arms against me – they are up in arms against G-d and His Torah.”
In the wake of the controversy, the Palestinians are calling for a United Nations General Assembly condemnation of Israel, claiming that the rules which Fishman has instituted are aimed at denying the legitimacy of the Palestinian presence in Palestine.
The Israel “Peace Now” group has petitioned the Israel Supreme Court to close down Arutz 7 and Israel National News, which has so far refused to issue a statement.
In Tokyo, a Japanese clergyman has set himself on fire in front of the Israeli Embassy. His body turned to ashes before the sign he was holding, “Broggers! Leave Buddha alone!” went up in flames alongside him.
In response to the recent smashing exhanges which make Wimbledon look like childs play, we are posting the rules of the game, which all talkbackers will have to abide by.
Thou shall not write about anything of a missionary nature.
Thou shall not write about homosexuality.
Thou shall not encourage the violation of any mitzvah.
Thou shall not discourage anyone from performing a mitzvah.
Thou shall not berate others personally.
That makes five. If anyone can think of five others, please send them in.
Have a nice day.
Recently, an acquaintance in the neighborhood was walking down the street when he suddenly collapsed to the sidewalk, stricken with a fatal heart attack. He was sixty years old. Whatever might have been going on in the spiritual side of his life, on the physical side of the coin, he was very overweight. At the very beginning of the year, another friend of mine didn't make it to Yom Kippur prayers because his blood pressured skyrocketted, and he had to be rushed to a hospital. Since then he's been on a serious diet to lose weight and eat healthier foods. Having learned his lesson, he exercises regularly and feels like he has been given a new lease on life.
Now that my beard has streaks of white, my doctor insists that I make periodical visits to a cardiologist. He also recommends a bi-annual blood test, a prostate check at the urologist, and a simple home examanation to see if there is any colonic bleeding, G-d forbid.
The Torah commands us to very carefully guard over our lives, repeating the word "maod" which means "very much." Therefore, when a person reaches the age where his beard begins to turn grey, he should make it a point to examine his health.
Women too. As a woman approaches fifty, she should go for the examinations and ultrasounds pertaining to women. Even at the age of forty, it doesn't hurt to make a routine, yearly visit to her gynecologist.
Please don't wait. How many tragic strories could have been avoided if people had simply been more precautious. While the teaching of our Sages is certainly true that it isn't the bite of the snake that kills, but the sin which led to it, one is not to test G-d by gambling with his life, by ignoring his health and the recommendations of doctors, thus neglecting a Torah command.
So be sure to eat healthy foods, get regular exercise, and don't put off important medical check-ups.
And be happy - that's the best medicine there is!