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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.
Today, we are all Weiners. In the global cyberspace village that knows no boundaries or shame, the Internet makes Weiners out of all of us.
I’ve been saying it for a long time – everyone is affected. The temptations and pitfalls of the Internet are simply too ubiquitous and mighty to withstand. If a person doesn’t constantly work on himself to guard his eyes, his morals, and his fear of G-d, he is certain to become a Weiner himself. That’s why we created jewishsexuality.com.
Whether it’s Twitter, or Facebook, Chat, or regular Internet surfing, you have to be a Superman not to get snared in the net of egotism and immorality that the Internet upholds as the norm. In the digital days we live in, it’s a ME ME ME world where anyone and everyone can have his own website and vomit his views into cyberspace as if he is some famous astronaut. Look at my Face! Look at my body! See how I twitter! Take a whiff of my blog! The very opposite of the sacred values of modesty and humility which our holy Torah lauds.
U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner is simply a victim, and we are all victims with him. That’s what cyberspace does to you. Just like the Diaspora. In fact, they’re the same. The Diaspora is cyberspace. It breaks down all borders. Instead of being married by a rabbi, Weiner was married by a goy, not just any goy, but by a supergoy, a man who was an immoral disgrace to the world, who sought to rob the Jews of Jerusalem, an evil egomaniac of a man, married to an evil egomaniac of a woman who wants to tear the Land of Israel asunder and give it to the Nazis of today.
Instead of marrying a Jew, Weiner married a Muslim. Then, instead of burying himself in a hole in shame for turning his back on his holy forefathers and his holy Jewish faith, he exposed himself for all the world to see, making a mockery out of the holy Covenant. The DeWeinerization of Weiner. That’s the Diaspora in a nutshell, where everyone, sooner or later, is turned into a deWeinerized Weiner.
What’s the solution?
Come to Israel. True, the curse of cyberspace has invaded our holy borders as well. And not accidently, my friends. At the present time, when half of the Nation of Israel is still scattered amongst the gentiles, the global village is controlled by the enemies of holiness. Like in the days of Midian and Moav of old, the landlords of cyberspace are waging a war against the Jewish People and G-d, polluting G-d’s chosen people with immorality and all kinds of godless character traits and morals. To make us assimilate. To make us all into Weiners. To Facebook and Twitter us all into oblivion.
Friends, save yourselves while you can. Come to Israel. The Holy Land protects us. Hashem watches over us here. Yes, we have Internet and all of its smut. But assimilation is miniscule. So if you don’t want to become a Weiner forever, come to Israel now! Guard yourselves! Protect your children! Don’t let the Internet make a Weiner out of you!
And download a safe filter. Everyone. Now!
As the holiday of Shavuot approaches, it is a good time to ask, “Just what is the Torah?” Since an explanation of the Torah, in all of its profundity and depth, is impossible in the format of a blog, we will concentrate on the national and personal aspects of the Torah in a concise and clear fashion, so that every reader can measure himself in line with the Torah’s guidelines.
First, it is important to understand that the Torah is first and foremost the national constitution of the Jewish People. As we say in the blessing over the Torah, “Blessed art Thou, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has chosen us from all peoples, and given us Thy Torah.” The Torah was given to us, to the nation, and just not to scattered individuals. Over the 2000 years of exile from our Land, people adopted an incorrect understanding of Torah, seeing it as a list of personal commandments like putting on tefillin, eating kosher, and keeping Shabbat. This is because in the galut, without our own Land, we lacked our national essence, existing as scattered individuals and communities around the world, without a country of our own. But the Torah is far more than a list of individual mitzvot. The Torah is our national constitution and guide - how to live as a holy nation in G-d’s Holy Land.
The Torah was given at Mount Sinai, but it was not meant to be practiced there. The Torah is meant to be practiced in Israel. Over half of the commandments in the Torah apply specifically to the Land of Israel, including the laws of the Temple, the laws of kingship, the laws of war, the laws of the Land, the laws of the Sanhedrin. In fact, all of the mitzvot were given to be practiced in Eretz Yisrael. Rashi explains that we also perform the individual precepts like tefillin and kashrut in the Diaspora, so that we don’t forget how to do them during our absence from the Land. For the principle practice of the mitzvot is in Eretz Yisrael. This is the reason why G-d commands the Jews, after giving them the Torah, to leave Mount Sinai and take up their journey to Eretz Yisrael. G-d wants everyone to know that the Torah is to be lived in Israel, and not in Sinai, Brooklyn, Melbourne, or Tokyo.
Tragic proof of this is the incident of the Spies who returned from their scouting mission with a negative report of Eretz Yisrael because they wanted to continue to live in the wilderness of Sinai. Their rebellion against G-d brought about the death of the entire generation in the desert. In contrast to the sin of the Golden Calf where only 3000 men were slain in punishment, the entire adult male populace which left Egypt, over 600,000 men (excluding Yehoshua and Calev), perished in G-d’s wrath over their perversion of the Torah in not wanting to make aliyah to Israel.
G-d wants the Jewish People to live in Israel – period. He gave us the Torah to enable us to achieve the holy lifestyle necessary to live in our unique Holy Land. The Land of Israel is a Divine Land. It is like no other place in the world. It is a spiritual essence attached to the spiritual essence of the Israeli Nation, and to the spiritual essence of the Torah, in an inseparable three-way spiritual bond, all bound together in our life source in G-d. The Jewish People and the Torah can only be complete in Eretz Yisrael. The service of G-d can only be complete in Eretz Yisrael. “For the Torah will go forth from Zion, and the word of Hashem from Yerushalayim.”
This is G-d’s will for the Jewish People and for the world. In order to be a light to the nations, the Jewish People must build its sovereign, independent Torah nation in Eretz Yisrael.
Once the national aspect of Torah is understood and internalized, in the context of our national Torah which encompasses all of the nation, each and every Jew has his, or her, individual obligations as part of the nation. The Torah is the soul and identity of every Jew. To be true to his essence, a Jew must live his life according to the guidelines of the Torah. If he doesn’t, he is not being true to himself.
In order to explain this let’s take the example of a motor vehicle test. Every year in Israel, a car owner must bring his vehicle to an inspection center where his car is hooked up to a battery of machines which measure the performance of his motor, his headlights, his wheel alignment, his steering, and his brakes. At the end of the inspection, he receives a print out of everything he needs to fix.
Similar, when we make a self-accounting, measuring our lives according to the guidelines of the Torah, we get a print-out of our alignment to the Torah’s commandments and a list of the things we need to correct. For instance, are we actively connected to the ideals of the Nation and its goal of national Redemption? Are we living in Eretz Yisrael? Do we live our sexual lives according to the holy laws of the Torah? Do we guard our speech as the Torah demands? Do we guard our eyes? Do we endeavor to help our fellow in whatever way we can?
The holiday of Shavuot affords us the opportunity of encountering the Torah anew. It is our annual spiritual visit to the inspection center, where we are inspired to take a look at ourselves to make sure that our beings are aligned to the Torah’s directives. This is the meaning of receiving the Torah – accepting the Torah, in all of its wholeness and truth, and making it the primary aspiration and guiding light of our lives.
Someone sent me this in an email. Since Israeli governments have never spread the simple truth that there was never a Palestinian people, the Internet may be the only way to get the message out to the world:
IS THE WORLD JUST PLAIN STUPID?
An interesting questionnaire for Palestinian Advocates
By Yashiko Sagamori
If you are so sure that " Palestine , the country, goes back through most of recorded history," I expect you to be able to answer a few basic questions about that country of Palestine :
1. When was it founded and by whom?
2. What were its borders?
3. What was its capital?
4. What were its major cities?
5. What constituted the basis of its economy?
6. What was its form of government?
7. Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat?
8.. Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?
9. What was the language of the country of Palestine ?
10. What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine ?
11. What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese Yuan on that date.
12. And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?
You are lamenting the "low sinking" of a "once proud" nation.. Please tell me, when exactly was that "nation" proud and what was it so proud of?
And here is the least sarcastic question of all: If the people you mistakenly call "Palestinians" are anything but generic Arabs collected from all over -- or thrown out of -- the Arab world, if they really have a genuine ethnic identity that gives them right for self-determination, why did they never try to become independent until Arabs suffered their devastating defeat in the Six Day War?
I hope you avoid the temptation to trace the modern day "Palestinians" to the Biblical Philistines: substituting etymology for history won't work here.
The truth should be obvious to everyone who wants to know it. Arab countries have never abandoned the dream of destroying Israel ; they still cherish it today. Having time and again failed to achieve their evil goal with military means, they decided to fight Israel by proxy. For that purpose, they created a terrorist organization, cynically called it "the Palestinian people" and installed it in Gaza , Judea, and Samaria . How else can you explain the refusal by Jordan and Egypt to unconditionally accept back the "West Bank" and Gaza , respectively?
The fact is, Arabs populating Gaza, Judea, and Samaria have much less claim to nationhood than that Indian tribe that successfully emerged in Connecticut with the purpose of starting a tax-exempt casino: at least that tribe had a constructive goal that motivated them. The so-called "Palestinians" have only one motivation: the destruction of Israel , and in my book that is not sufficient to consider them a nation" -- or anything else except what they really are: a terrorist organization that will one day be dismantled.
In fact, there is only one way to achieve peace in the Middle East . Arab countries must acknowledge and accept their defeat in their war against Israel and, as the losing side should, pay Israel reparations for the more than 50 years of devastation they have visited on it. The most appropriate form of such reparations would be the removal of their terrorist organization from the land of Israel and accepting Israel's ancient sovereignty over Gaza , Judea, and Samaria . That will mark the end of the Palestinian people.
Oops. I meant Jerusalem Day. Brooklyn Day is totally ridiculous. It’s as silly as Jews celebrating Monsey Day, or Toronto Day, or Boca Day. Brooklyn, Monsey, Toronto, and Boca are totally meaningless in the annuls of Jewish history. Who cares what’s going on in Brooklyn? Where is Toronto mentioned in the Bible? Jerusalem is where it’s all happening. All the eyes of the world are focused on Jerusalem. Jerusalem is where the world started, and it’s where the world will reach its grand finale when G-d reveals His supreme Kingship over Heaven and Earth. A Jew who doesn’t feel the wonder and thrill and excitement of Jerusalem Day is totally out of it. If he doesn’t feel a deep gratitude to G-d for having returned our cherished city to our hands, he’s out of touch with reality, and his Judaism is out of whack. Jerusalem is the heart of our Torah, the heart of our Land, the heart of our Nation. If a Jew doesn’t set Jerusalem above his chiefest joy, then his Jewishness is in need of an overhaul. If he feels more at home in Brooklyn, or Monsey, or LA, or in South Florida, than he does in Jerusalem, he needs to do tshuva fast.
This year, the organizers of the parade asked me to address a few remarks in English to Obama across from the American Consulate in East Jerusalem. I also had the great privilege to be invited up to the bandstand at the Kotel Plaza to dance and sing and pray along with tens of thousands of people who had attended the march to express their love of Jerusalem.
Yes, the State of Israel has problems, but it isn’t because of Bibi. It’s because of the Diasporians who prefer to remain in the exile of foreign gentile lands. If the Jews of the Diaspora came home to Israel, the Land would respond with an ever more incredible rebirth than we’ve witnessed up to now. All facets of the nation would multiply a thousand fold in the special chain reaction and blessing that occurs when the Children of Israel return home to their Land. Israel would lead the world in every single field. It would be so powerful, all the Arabs would flee. There would be no more talk of two states, or demographic problems, or military danger. All of the Land would be settled, from the Negev to the Golan. From the Euphrates to the River of Egypt. With all of its millions back in its bosom, Israel would be the superpower of the world. A light would shine forth from Zion to the ends of the globe. Hashem’s Name would be sanctified in the greatest way possible, and a religious revolution would seize the nation, in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, with the reunion of the Jewish People and their special Holy Land. Prophecy would return to Jerusalem and the Torah would be kept in all of its fullness.
So why aren’t you here, dancing with us on the streets of Jerusalem? What are you waiting for? Why don’t you come?
Why aren’t you here, dancing with us on the streets of Jerusalem? What are you waiting for? Why don’t you come?
What are you waiting for?
Why don’t you come?
What are you waiting for?
Why don’t you come?
Why don’t you come?
My family has just returned from a three-day vacation in Eilat. I have to admit, it was a big mistake taking them there. A disaster is more like it. If you remember, my wife and I toured the town a few months ago, visiting our daughter, who is doing her National “Sherut Leumi” Service there. Back then it was winter time, and the hotel we stayed at was relatively deserted. So we enjoyed the serenity and the beauty of the mountainous seaside resort.
But this time it was summer, and I let the discount coupon we received from our previous visit to lead me astray by making our booking at the lovely resort hotel. I have to confess – this time, I was totally blown away. I have never seen more bikinis, mini-mini shorts, and itsy bitsy blouses in my life. Everywhere I looked. All over the place. In the hotel lobby, at the pool, on the streets of the city. It was overwhelming. It took my breath away. SHhhhhhhwwwwweeew! Perhaps it was those gasping exhalations, and my overpounding heart that caused the terrible tornadoes on the other side of the ocean which were raging the very same time that my head was spinning frantically around and around in Eilat.
Now I try to guard my eyes, but this time it was impossible. I failed the test completely. Zero on the scorecard. Out for the count. Bonkers! It made my head dizzy. And my soul took a beating. I could actually feel it, as if each time I looked, I was tagged with a vicious right hook, like Smoking Joe Frazier must have felt going the distance with Mohammed Ali in the Thriller in Manila.
Now, I don’t want to make it seem like I’m holier than thou. I mean, I’ve been around. But I never experience anything like this – not in my Hollywood days on the beaches of California, not on the Riviera, or in my wanderings through the Caribbean. While I am ashamed of myself for looking, I have to report that amongst the many superlatives of the Land of Israel, we also have absolutely the most beautiful women in the world!
The problem is that when a Jew gazes at a women to enjoy her beauty, he does more damage to his soul than if he had eaten a lobster or a piece of pork. Transgressing the kosher laws blemishes the “nefesh,” the lowest level of the soul, while seeing something forbidden blemishes a much higher aspect of the soul, since the eyes are windows to the most elevated spiritual worlds of the “neshamah.” In effect, he pulls out the plug connecting him to G-d, because holiness and its opposite cannot exist together in harmony. Furthermore, if he is married, every time he gazes at the beauty of a strange woman, whether it be in the office, the hotel swimming pool, or on the street, he cuts off the flow of blessing that was originally destined for his wife, and this Divine “shefa” or spiritual bounty is wasted, and diverted to realms of impurity, polluting himself, his wife, his children, and the “Shechinah” herself. Because a man and his wife are one united soul, she instinctively feels his betrayal with her spiritual radar, and she is likely to be waiting for him when he comes home from the office with an outburst of anger and a frying pan straight to his head. And if his children suffer from headaches, allergies, problems at school, and the like, he should know that it all comes from his errant behavior, because they too are a part of his soul and suffer for his wrongdoings as well.
What this very difficult vacation taught me was that everything I have been writing about the importance of guarding one’s eyes is 100 percent true. Even though I only took my kids to swim in the pool at 7:00 in the morning before all the ¾ naked women arrived, and hid myself away from the crowd in a corner of the breakfast hall, as far from the pool as I could get, and by-passed the lobby by taking the long way around the hotel, and frequented the men-only section of the beach, all of my efforts were of little avail.
So my dear brothers, please believe me. The warnings of our Sages are true. It is a mistake to take their teachings lightly by thinking that they exaggerated in their descriptions of the damage our eyeballs can cause by gazing at the beauty of women.
How wonderful it was to return to Jerusalem! True, with the summer heat spell, not every woman dresses in the Holy City as religiously as she should, but compared to Eilat, they are models of modest behavior, and I won’t be spraying them with my paintball rifle this year to teach them a lesson.
This time the lesson was mine and I failed. I suppose that’s how you learn, like with the Jews in the wilderness on their way to Eretz Yisrael. But more about that in the Torah portions to come.