Middle East 4:15 AM 12/10/2013
Inside Israel 12:14 AM 12/10/2013
Middle East 5:15 AM 12/10/2013
Ask the Rabbi
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.
The book making all the news, “Torat HaMelech,” came out of the small Samaria yishuv of Yitzhar, a mountaintop settlement, very similar to the small mountaintop settlement of Pincus that provides the backdrop for the short novella, "The T'shuva of David Dor," that opens my collection of short stories, “Days of Mashiach.” And just as the Shin Bet is always trying to plant stinkers amongst the settlers, David Dor, the main character of my novella, has the same task of infiltrating the community to gather evidence that the settlers are planning to blow up the Temple Mount. I’m certain you’ll enjoy the book. In fact, there isn’t any book like “Days of Mashiach” in capturing the Jewish experience today, from the hilltops of Judea and Samaria, to the underground Israel War Command Center, to the Diasporas of South Africa and New York. But why listen to me? Instead of buying a true Jewish book, go out and waste your money of some stupid Hollywood movie.
Regarding "Torat HaMelech," I don't know what all the fuss is about. The book is a scholarly summary of the laws of war, including the question of whether it is permissible to kill innocent (non-Jewish) civilians during wartime operations and battle in order to win the war, and/or save the lives of Israeli soldiers. The book brings down hundreds of Rabbinic opinions over the centuries. I suppose they will all have to be arrested.
But, isn't this what the Americans did when they blew up Hiroshima? Isn't this what the Americans and Nato forces do today in Afganistan, Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia, or wherever else they bomb? What's the big news? Everyone conducts military operations this way. Why is it such a horror if Jewish law also finds this an acceptable thing to do?
As I have previously written, it's all because the leftists in Israel are terrified that the religious are getting more and more powerful, with the growing wave of tshuva, and all the babies we have, and they are in a desperate panic to save the secular society they have wrongly imposed on the Jewish State. But times are a changing. Yes, my friends, times are a changing.
Here's the fun and exciting continuation of yesterday's excerpt from "The Discman and the Guru." After Sam's quest to pray on the Temple Mount triggers a new Intifada, and the eyes of the world are once again focused on Jerusalem, Israeli police rush the American teenager to the Kfar Shaul Psychiatric Hospital at the other end of the city.
Once again, let's have Sam tell his story:
THAT MORNING, Arab riots erupted on highways near Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hevron, and throughout the Gaza Strip. Thousands of Arabs mobbed Israeli Army outposts. At an outpost near Shechem, two Israeli soldiers were killed. In the city of Hevron, wild mobs attacked the Jewish quarter, firing rifles that the Israeli government had given to the Palestinian Police. Yasir Arafat claimed that he was trying to quell the disturbance, but his soldiers stood by and watched as the mobs filled the streets. Palestinian policemen even joined in the shooting. By eleven o'clock in the morning, dozens of Arabs had been killed and wounded, and five Israelis were dead.
Of course, I only heard about all this later. Handcuffed and surrounded by soldiers, I was brought to the top security ward of a psychiatric hospital in Jerusalem, where I was placed under round-the-clock guard. Longtime patients gathered in the corridor of the general ward to see the new inmate. Some were dressed in street clothes, others wore hospital robes, while others still wore their pajamas.
“Greetings good friend!” one called out in perfectly clear English. “I'm the Messiah.”
“Don't listen to anything he tells you,” another patient shouted. “He's crazy. I'm the real Messiah.”
A squadron of soldiers stood all around me, waiting for the hospital authorities to direct them to a room.
“They're both nuts,” a man with a bushy beard and burning eyes called over from the doorway of the ward.
“Shut up, Moses,” another called out, giving Moses a shove.
I was surprised that they all spoke in English. I wondered if they too had been tourists like me. A patient in pajamas and slippers slid over my way. “Who are you, fellah?” he asked.
“Sam Singer,” I answered. “My father is one of the wealthiest men in the world. He'll get me out of here soon.”
The patient turned toward his buddies. “His father is one of the wealthiest men in the world,” he told them.
For some reason, everyone laughed.
“My father is wealthier than your father,” a patient shouted.
“My father is wealthier than everybody's father put together,” another one claimed.
Soon all the patients were arguing. A white-jacketed attendant hurried over and started pushing the crowd back into their ward. I was herded into a doctor's office and shoved into a chair. During the interview, a few high-ranking cops and government officials ease dropped in the back of the room. A uniformed soldier wearing a red beret and a chestful of medals stood at attention. The psychiatrist wore a knitted kippah and glasses. He had a neatly trimmed beard.
“How did you get that head wound?” was the first question he asked.
“The other day, I went up to the Temple Mount and started to sing,” I replied. “When the police dragged me away, the commander, Aharoni, smashed my head against a wall.”
The doctor glanced over to the Minister of Police who was listening by the door.
“I see,” the psychiatrist said. “Did a doctor take a look at it?”
“No. A medic bandaged it, that's all.”
“Well, we'll have a doctor take a look at it soon. Does it hurt?”
“Not anymore,” I said, turning around to take in the small audience behind me.
“I'd like to ask you some questions, do you mind?” the shrink inquired politely.
“No,” I answered. “Go ahead.”
“What were you doing climbing the wall?”
“I wanted to get inside the Temple Mount.”
“To be close to G-d.”
“Why didn't you wait for the morning?”
I thought about the question and shrugged. “I didn't feel like waiting, that's all.”
The psychiatrist nodded.
“The morning before when I went up there, I wasn't even praying. The police arrested me when I started to sing with some tourists. I was the only person arrested – apparently because I'm a Jew. Let me ask you, Doctor, does that make sense to you?”
“Whether it makes sense to me or not, that is the law. Do you understand what you've caused?”
“I'm sorry if someone was hurt. If this was really a democracy, it wouldn't have happened. In a democracy, people have rights. If an Arab can pray on the Mount, why can't a Jew?”
The psychiatrist didn't have an answer. For a moment, he glanced up at his distinguished audience, which included the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army.
“Tell me,” the doctor inquired. “Have you ever been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons before?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “As a kid.”
“Is that so?” the psychiatrist asked with interest.
“A few times.”
“My parents thought I was weird.”
The psychiatrist kept nodding his head as if it were attached to a spring.
“Weird in what way?”
“I used to pray to G-d in my closet.”
“And your parents didn't approve?”
“They wanted me to be normal, whatever that is.”
“Did you take medication?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I answered. “A lot.”
“Do you remember what kind?”
“Halydol, Prozac, Thorazine, Ritilin, and five or six anti_depressants.”
“You were depressed?”
“Not at the beginning, but I sure was after the psychiatrists got through with me.”
The doctor flinched as if he had been slapped in the face.
“Nothing personal, mind you,” I said. “I was just trying to answer your question.”
“Of course. Feel free to say what's on your mind.”
“It isn't easy with such a big audience,” I answered, glancing back at the crowd by the door. “Who are they all?”
“Doctors, policemen, government officials.”
“I want to see a lawyer,” I said. “And I want to talk to the United States Ambassador to Israel. I'm an American, and I know my rights. The Israeli government is persecuting me because I'm a Jew.”
“That's ridiculous!” the Minister of Police blurted out.
“Then how come an Arab can pray on the Temple Mount and I can't?”
“That's the law,” the flustered cabinet member shot back.
“That's discrimination,” I said.
“This isn't a trial,” the psychiatrist cut in. “I myself am not an expert in the law, but I'm sure the Israeli government has good reasons for enforcing its statutes. The police will want to ask you questions, and I'm sure they will let you speak to a lawyer, but right now, just tell me, are you taking any medication at this time?”
“No,” I answered. “Nothing at all. I haven't taken any of that poison for years. I learned to keep quiet and mind my own business, that's all.”
“Until last night,” Israel's top Army commander commented, striding out of the room.
A mob of journalists were waiting for him outside the entrance to the ward.
“No comment. No comment. No comment,” he repeated in answer to their barrage of rapid-fire questions.
More journalists and TV crews were waiting outside on the street, where a lively demonstration had formed. Most of the crowd were settlers and religious people from Jerusalem. Hastily-made placards read: “FREE SAM SINGER!” Another sign said: “JEWS HAVE RIGHTS TOO!” When the Chief of Staff strode out from the hospital, Ariel Tzur started yelling, “JEWS HAVE RIGHTS TOO! JEWS HAVE RIGHTS TOO!” Following his cue, the crowd started chanting, “JEWS HAVE RIGHTS TOO!”
When the psychiatrist finished talking to me, the Israeli Police took over. The psychiatrist closed the door of the room and walked over to the nurse's station to make a telephone call. While he was speaking, the saintly Tzaddik of the Kotel, Rabbi Dov Bear HaCohen, shuffled over my way in the slippers he wore over his arthritic, swollen feet. With his prayer gown, he might have passed for one of the patients in the ward, if not for the holy gleam that lit up his face. Though the police guards had been given orders not to let anyone into the ward, no policeman or soldier would dream of denying the revered rabbi entrance. In addition to his great devotion to Jerusalem, he was respected by everyone in the country for his selfless good deeds. Not a day passed when he didn't visit some hospital or prison to bring assistance and cheer to the sick and down-and-out.
“Shalom, Rabbi,” the psychiatrist said, putting the phone down to greet him.
“I want to see the Singer boy,” the venerable sage responded.
Once again, the inmates on the floor gathered at the door of the ward to see the revered figure. No one made any jokes. No one called out. They all stood in respectful silence.
“Right now, the police are interrogating him,” the psychiatrist answered.
“Why did they bring him here?” the rabbi wanted to know.
“He seems to have a history of mental disease.”
“If he is mental, then so am I,” the white-bearded, ninety-year-old tzaddik replied. “I want to pray on the Temple Mount too.”
“Of course, I understand, but there are political questions here that must be considered.”
“Nonsense,” the rabbi said, dismissing the doctor's rebuttal with a wave of the hand. “Halevai that every Jew had such a yearning to get close to G-d.”
The psychiatrist nodded.
“Until he is released, I'm staying with him. Lock me up too,” the rabbi exclaimed, holding out his hands, ready to be handcuffed.
The inmates cheered. The police guards looked as startled as the psychiatrist.
“This isn't a prison,” the doctor answered.
“Fine. Then I simply will wait in the ward with the others,” the old man insisted.
He shuffled closer to the doctor and whispered in his ear.
“Between me and you, it's the Jews who don't want to pray on the Temple Mount that need treatment, not the ones who do.”
Without further ado, the Tzaddik of the Kotel walked into the mental ward. As the cheering patients made way, the rabbi shuffled through the entrance and plumped himself down on a chair.
Outside on the street, hundreds of protesters had gathered to demand my release. Wrapped in a white and blue prayer shawl, the flamboyant Ariel Tzur stood on the roof of a van, shouting through a megaphone. Camera crews from all over the world filmed his passionate speech.
“What great crime did the Jew, Sam Singer, commit?” he shouted out in his theatrical English. “The crime of wanting to pray on the holiest site to the Jewish nation. Arabs pray there. Americans pray there. Japanese tourists pray there. But when a Jew prays there, he is arrested. Today, if Judah the Macabee were alive, he would be arrested by the Israeli Police! If King David were living, he would be thrown into an Israeli prison! If Rabbi Akiva were living, he would be labeled insane. We demand the immediate release of the prisoner of Zion, Sam Singer! Free the Prisoner of Zion, Sam Singer! Free Sam Singer! Free Sam Singer!”
The crowd joined in the chant. “Free Sam Singer! Free Sam Singer!”
Continent to continent, coast to coast, all across the globe, television viewers heard the cry to free Sam Singer.
Little did I know that I had become an international celebrity. More than that, I had become the symbol of a cause. Already, the photograph of Sam Singer clinging to the Temple Mount wall was being printed in every newspaper in the world. On the way to the press, Time Magazine yanked its cover-story on President Bill Boston for a picture of me instead. That week, my picture would grace the covers of Newsweek, People, US News and World Report, Sports Illustrated, Soldier of Fortune, and every important international weekly from Australia to Sweden. While the police were grilling me on the top floor of the mental hospital in Givat Shaul, my photograph was being printed on posters at a printing press down the street. One of Tzur's enterprising followers was even printing my picture on T-shirts with the caption, “If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem.” Not since Neil Armstrong's boot had stepped on the moon had a photograph received such worldwide attention.
I won't give away the ending. If you want to get a teenager thinking about Judaism and Israel, this book is the perfect gift. It should be required reading for every young person in the Diaspora!
In the beginning, the Jewish world scorned Rambam’s opus work of halachah, the “Mishna Torah.” Rabbi Nachman’s writings were banned. The same with the Ramchal, author of the now famous “Mesillat Yesharim.” The Haredi world tried to uphold publication of “Eim HaBanim Semeichah,” written in the midst of the Holocaust, proving beyond a shadow of question the obligation of living in Eretz Yisrael.
So I am under no illusions. My books speak about the things that truly matter, things that many readers would rather avoid. Nonetheless, the people who read my books truly enjoy them. Translations of my novels into Hebrew have found a appreciative audience, especially among young people who are hungry for true Jewish substance. Several of them have been adapted into high-school plays.
“The Discman and the Guru” is a perfect example. The novel tells the story of Sam Singer, a sensitive teenager from a super wealthy, broken, LA family, who can’t relate to the crass material world around him. Setting off on his own, he journeys around the world to find G-d and the TRUTH. After escapades in London, Paris, Rome, India, and Mecca, he arrives in Jerusalem, where he is arrested several times for trying to pray on the Temple Mount. Warned by Israeli police that he will be thrown out of the country if he tries once again, he undauntedly sets off at night to scale the towering southern wall. But a climbing mishap occurs, and he is left dangling in mid air, high up on the wall, when an Arab street-cleaner spots him, and spreads the alarm that a settler is trying to blow up the Temple Mount mosques.
Here’s an excerpt from the novel, told by Sam himself:
As I said, what happened from that point on became history. The streetcleaner alerted an Arab family who lived across from the Old City wall. The man of the house telephoned a PLO connection, who in turn awakened the Wakf. Within minutes, the loudspeakers in muzzeins throughout East Jerusalem were announcing the “Israeli assault” on the mosque. In the name of the Mufti, Arabs were to congregate on the Temple Mount to repel the Zionist invasion. In the meantime, the streetcleaner had run to the Israeli police station by the Kotel. While loudspeakers in Jerusalem's mosques were calling for jihad, hysterical sirens sounded all over the city. Israeli police cars and army jeeps raced to the scene. Buses speeded Israeli paratroopers to the sight. Searchlights were focused on my way. Sniper rifles were aimed at my back.
I heard all the raucous, but I didn't dare look down. I pressed my body against the metal lattice and prayed. When Yosi described the scene later, he made it sound like an action-packed movie. Down below, Arabs filled the street. Police formed a human barricade, pushing them back. Police horses galloped to the scene like a well-rehearsed cavalry charge. Police and TV helicopters roared over the Old City. Suddenly, a great light beamed down on me from out of the sky as if all of heaven were watching. Thanks to CNN, the unfolding drama was broadcast live to all of the world.
Up on the Temple Mount, Moslems hurrying to defend the el Aksa Mosque charged the Israeli police station, trapping the outnumbered policemen inside. Israeli soldiers arrived on the scene in full battle gear. Temple-Mount Commander Aharoni shouted orders to the troops of Border Police that were bussed in to quell the growing riot. Out on the street, soldiers were firing gas cannisters at the mobs of Arabs who had come up from Silwan to throw stones. Sipping on a hot cup of coffee, Gibson climbed sleepily out of his car and trudged over to the sidewalk where the army commander on duty was arguing with a police captain. Gibson later told me that the commander wanted to let one of his sharpshooters take me down from the wall.
“Are you crazy?” the captain argued. “He may be wired with explosives.”
Detective Gibson reached over and borrowed a pair of binoculars from an officer standing nearby. Adjusting the lenses, he focused in on the wall.
“Singer,” he said. “It's Singer.”
The army commander looked over.
“You know him?” he asked.
“Call off the snipers,” Gibson barked. “It's just a mixed-up kid from the States.”
A soldier in the archeological garden held up his hand and gave out a call. Keeping a safe distance away from the wall, he signalled for the boys from the bomb squad. Other soldiers formed a radius around the area, clearing the site. Sirens blared as cars carrying the Minister of Police and the Mayor of Jerusalem arrived at the scene. Though dawn was still several hours away, the area looked just like rush hour. Crowds were streaming down the hill from the Old City. Among the bystanders was Rabbi Dov Ber HaCohen, the Tzaddik of the Kotel. He had been in the middle of his nightly midnight prayer when the news came that a Jew was trying to scale the southern wall of the Mount. Staring up at me as I clung to the lattice high up on the wall, the Rabbi recited a verse from King David's Psalms.
“For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones and cherish her very dust.”
Not far away, Ariel Tzur was being interviewed by a CNN News crew against the background of the brightly lit wall. Other film crews hurried over to get the passionate settler on tape.
“He wants to pray on the site of the Temple, that's all,” Tzur explained in his Biblical English, as camera lights flashed in his face. “Isn't it absurd that in Jerusalem a Jew can't pray where Kings David and Solomon, and all the great Jewish prophets prayed in the past?”
“The site is also holy to the Moslems,” the TV reporter challenged.
“If a thief steals your house, who does the house belong to?” Tzur asked in response. “To the thief or to the original owner? Let the Moslems pray in Mecca. The Temple Mount belongs to the Jews.”
“Even if it means jihad?” the reporter shot back.
“Of course. By all means. Let there be war. If the Russians demanded control of New York, wouldn't every American be ready to fight?”
“That's true,” President Bill Boston said. “The man has a point.”
He was watching the special live report from Jerusalem in the Oval Office, while waiting for the nightly CNN Election Report to begin.
The on-the-scene reporter turned away from Tzur and stood facing camera with the tiny figure of you-know-who in the background. “Police sources say that the mysterious Spiderman climbing the Temple Mount wall is an American tourist, Sam Singer, from Beverly Hills, California.”
“Sam Singer,” the President exclaimed as the camera zoomed in on a close-up of me on the wall. “Well I'll be a hog in shit. I know that boy. That's Ralph Singer's son. Get me Ralph on the phone this minute!”
Back in Jerusalem, flashing his I.D., Gibson had made his way past the soldiers blocking the entrance to the archeological garden. Carrying a bullhorn in his hand, he headed up the stone stairway toward the wall. Before he reached the top step, a barrage of stones flew down like hailstones from the Temple Mount. Inside the yard, Arabs were throwing bricks and rocks over the wall at the Israelis below. Soldiers fired tear gas over the wall in retaliation, hoping to drive the rioters away. Smoke filled the air. Helicopters roared overhead, searchlights flashing. Throughout the Moslem sections of the city, mosque loudspeakers continued to cry out, “Slaughter the Jews!”
“Singer, come down!” Gibson called out through the bullhorn.
I recognized the voice of the laid-back policeman.
“I can't!” I yelled back, my eyes burning from the smoke of the tear gas.
“You got up there!” Gibson yelled.
“I hurt my knee,” I called back.
It was true. My knee had twisted when I had latched onto the metal lattice guarding the window high up on the mosque.
“Try!” Gibson urged.
I pulled out a foot from one of the lattice holes and searched for the hole down below. Slowly, I lowered myself down a rung, but a pain shot through my knee, making me shudder.
“I can't,” I called down.
Another rainstorm of rocks showered down on the archeological park, as if fired out of catapults on the Mount.
“Umph,” Gibson groaned as a brick smashed into his back. The blow knocked him down to the ground. Quickly, he stumbled down the stone steps, out of range of the homemade missiles.
The eyes of the Mayor and the Minister of Police looked frantic. A decision had to be made. The bomb squad couldn't search the site under the barrage of rocks flying down from the wall. On the Mount, the police station had been torched and policemen were trapped inside. Normally, in a situation like this, the Prime Minister would make the decision to send troops into the Mount or not, but the leader of the country was away on an economic mission in Japan. The Minister of Defense was next in line, but in the crazy world of Israeli politics, the Prime Minister had kept that portfolio for himself. And the Minister of Police was a former lawyer who had never held an army command in his life.
So it was the jumpy Aharoni who made the decision. Dutifully, he had waited for directions from the political echelon, but hearing that his men were trapped in the burning police station, he ordered the troops at the Temple Mount gate to prepare for attack. When orders didn't come from the powers that be, he gave the command to charge. A hundred of Israel's toughest paratroopers stormed through the archway. A mob of rioting Arabs were waiting to greet them with lethal volleys of automatic fire. Firing rubber bullets, the Israelis forced a retreat. In the first blast of fire, eight Arabs were wounded. More gas cannisters exploded, turning the Temple Mount into a battleground of fire and smoke. While the riot unit chased after the stone throwers, a commando team charged the police station to free the Israelis inside. Firing live ammunition, they smashed through a throng of screaming Arabs, who fled to the other side of the courtyard. Six Arabs were killed, a dozen wounded. Within minutes, the wail of ambulance sirens filled the Old City.
Aharoni raised the face guard of his riot helmet. “Sterilize the Mount!” he yelled out to his officers as the Arabs regrouped and charged at the Israeli soldiers. A fierce round of fire drove them back across the yard.
“Clear the Mount! Clear the Mount!” soldiers called out through bullhorns.
While Jerusalem was waking up to the sound of ambulances, across the ocean, my father sat at the edge of a chair in front of a giant, wall_size television screen in his Beverly Hills office.
“Ralph, you’re not going to believe this. Turn on CNN News right away,” the President had told him over the phone.
A helicopter flying over the Old City of Jerusalem filmed the burning battlefield below. Ambulances rushed the wounded to hospitals. And there, stuck to the Temple Mount wall like a fly, was Ralph Singer's youngest son, Sam.
“What the hell?” he exclaimed, standing up from his chair.
“From the information we have at this time,” the CNN reporter explained, “the Jewish zealot is unarmed. Yesterday, the eighteen-year-old American from Beverly Hills, California, was arrested twice for trying to pray on the Temple Mount, a site holy to both Moslems and Jews.”
When the camera zoomed in to a close-up of the “zealot” who was causing the riot, my Dad must have flipped. It was me, all right, bald and bandaged, but me all the same, looking tired and frightened as I clung to the window lattice, seventy feet off the ground.
“Hold on,” my father called out, as if I could hear him, thousands of miles away.
My older brother, Wayne, hurried into the office. He stared open_mouth at the screen.
“Is that Sam?” he asked.
My father nodded.
“Where is he?”
“How the hell did he get himself up there?” Wayne wanted to know, sitting down on a couch to watch the mind-boggling footage.
The live CNN broadcast switched to an Arab in charge of Jerusalem affairs for the Palestinian Authority.
“This new Israeli attack on the Temple Mount will bring the whole Middle East to war against the Zionists,” he warned. “This time, we will reclaim all of our land.”
“Get me the President on the phone!” Ralph Singer barked in confusion.
“He's still on the line,” Wayne answered.
My worried father reached over to the coffee table and lifted the receiver.
“Bill? Are you still there?” he asked.
“One second, Mr. Singer,” an aide responded. “The President is speaking to the Israelis right now.”
My father kept his eyes glued to the giant Sony screen. Hovering over the roof of the mosque, a rescue helicopter carefully moved into place, swinging a rope ladder my way.
“Since when did your boy become such a snappler?” the President quipped, coming back on the line.
“I don't want anything to happen to him, Bill,” my father replied with concern.
“I just spoke to the Israeli Prime Minister in Tokyo. We'll get the boy out of there, don't worry. And I called Arafat and warned him to call off his jihad.”
“Why the hell did they arrest him for praying?” my father said angrily as he watched me reach out for the rope.
“It's a powder keg up there,” the President answered, eyes glued to the Oval Office TV.
“What kind of Jewish country is it?” Ralph Singer barked. “You're the President of the United States. Don't Americans have rights?”
“My State Department people are working on the proper response. This is a sticky matter. We've got an election coming up, remember? Get me a couple million dollars for ads in all the papers explaining whatever position we take. I'll call you back later.”
The President hung up the phone. My father, and hundreds of millions of viewers all over the world, watched as I grabbed ahold of the rope ladder. One hand, then the other. When I had a firm grasp on the rescue device, the hydrolic lift in the helicopter began to raise me up through the air. Clouds of smoke billowed up over the Temple Mount. The shooting had stopped, but the sound of ambulances could still be heard in the distance. I dangled on the rope ladder as the aircraft hovered safely away from the silver dome of the mosque. To tell you the truth, I was glad the whole thing was over. Hands reached down from the door of the helicopter, and soldiers lifted me aboard.
On the other side of the world, my father fell back exhaustedly into his chair.
“Thank G-d,” he said with a sigh of relief.
“He's crazy,” Wayne said. “Absolutely, certifiably nuts.”
The news broadcast returned to the regular Nightly Election Report. For the moment, the Temple Mount drama was over.
"The Discman and the Guru" can be obtained online at:
Now is the time to come to the aid of your country. Now is the time to come to the aid of your country.
Now is the time to come to the aid of your country.
Now is the time to come to the aid of your country.
Now is the time to come to the aid of your country.
I was planning to post an excerpt from my novel "The Discman and the Guru," but I encountered some technical problem which prevented me, so in the meantme, I'd like to ask you all a question.
This past Shabbat, Orthodox congregations recited the blessing over the upcoming new month (may it be a good month for everyone). We pray:
"May He who performed miracles for our fathers, and freed them from slavery, speedily redeem us and gather our dispersed people from the four corners of the earth, so that all Israel be joined in friendship together."
A person who says this prayer, what is he or she thinking? To me the prayer is asking G-d to redeem us, presumably from a bad situation, otherwise we wouldn't need to be redeemed. Then when the prayer says that we are dispersed, I understand that we are not where we should be. And I understand that we are to be gathered to the Land of Israel. That's what the prayer means, doesn't it? That we don't belong in the Diaspora? That we should feel uncomfortable there. That we belong in Israel and are longing to go. Isn't that what the words are saying?
This isn't the only time when we ask G-d to take us out from the exile and bring us to Israel. Every morning before reciting the Shema, we say: "Bring us home from the four corners of the earth, and help us to walk upright to our Land."
Once again, I understand that I am supposed to feel a desire to escape the Diaspora and come to Israel as a proud Jew. Isn't this what the prayer is requesting?
Also in the Amidah prayer which we say three times a day, we ask G-d to redeem us and to assemble us from the four corners of the earth and gather us to Israel.
When someone says this in America, what is he thinking? Doesn't he see that G-d has already cleared the way and all we have to do is get on the plane?
In the Sabbath Musaf prayer, Jews the world over pray to G-d to: "Bring us in joy back to our Land and plant us within our borders."
Isn't it wonderful that we now have a kosher airline, built-up cities in Israel, a stable, progressive economy, and villas and modest apartments waiting to be inhabited all over the country? What are people waiting for?
On the Jewish holidays, we ask G-d to: "Unite our scattered people from among the gentiles, and gather our dispersed from the four corners of the earth. Bring us to Zion, Your city with ringing song, to Jerusalem the place of Your Sanctuary with everlasting joy."
What do people think when they say these words? Can anybody tell me? I simply can't figure it out.