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.
TOKYO’S JEWS PRAY FOR SALVATION
As increasing winds bring dangerous clouds of radiation closer to Japan’s largest city, Tokyo’s Jews gathered to pray for salvation. Leading the supplications was Chief Reform Rabbi, Chaim Hirohito, Japan’s foremost High Holy Day cantor.
The Government of Israel has called upon all Jews in Japan to leave the country, offering to provide shelter for the refugees. But the Jews of Japan are staying put where they are. “We’re not leaving here until they get some decent corned beef in Israel” Rabbi Hirohito said. “I myself eat at least twenty corned beef sandwiches a day, sometimes with pastrami, tongue, and a pile of New York cole slaw that we fly in fresh every week. Besides," the Rabbi added, "it’s dangerous in Israel.”
EMPEROR OF JAPAN SEEKS TO CONVERT
Meanwhile, at the Emperor’s palace outside of Tokyo, the Emperor says he wants to become Jewish.
“Our monkey gods sure as hell aren’t going to save us,” he says. “The game’s up. Let’s face it. Buddhism is a lot of crap. The G-d of the Jews has given us a big warning, and I for one don’t want to play Shogun anymore. As Emperor, it’s my duty to tell the Japanese people the truth. Stop praying to statues that can’t hear. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains from where comes my help. My help comes from the L-rd.”
In Jerusalem, the Chief Rabbis of Israel have rejected the Emperor’s petition to convert, saying that he’s just trying to save his BLEEP.
JAPAN’S PRIME MINISTER DENIES FALLOUT DANGER
Looking like he was under a lot of pressure, Japan’s Prime Minister has denied that the spreading fallout presents any danger. “I visited Reactor 3 this morning and everything is under control,” he assured the public.
Nevertheless, Japanese citizens are showing signs of losing their renowned composure. Angry demonstrators fired arrows at atomic energy experts as they were boarding a bus to take them away from Tokyo and the fast approaching fallout.
TODAY’S NEWS QUIZ – WHO CAN IDENTIFY THIS DISPENSER MACHINE? AND WHAT IS ITS CONNECTION TO THE TSUNAMI?
RADIOACTIVE GEFILTA FISH BALLS FOUND IN LA
Elsewhere around the globe, Hollywood Jews are in a panic as a high level of radiation was discovered in a fresh batch of gefilta fish this Sabbath at a galore Beverly Hills Synagogue kiddush.
The fresh catch of Pacific carp indicates that the radiation leaking from Japan’s damaged atomic power plants is indeed spreading worldwide. A mass exodus of LA Jews has caused traffic jams on California’s already crowded highways. Apparently, they are heading for a giant geodesic dome called “Little Israel,” located in the desert of Arizona.
The long secret bubble is believed to be an exact replica of Hollywood Hills with movie studios and a mini Sunset Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. When asked why he wasn’t going to Israel instead, Mel Brooks said that he wasn’t going to Israel until they get some decent corned beef there.
DIASPORA HEADS MEET TO DISCUSS THE SITUATION IN ISRAEL
In Florida, the heads of the Diaspora Division of the World Jewish Committee met in the Miami Beach Fountainbleu Hotel Jacuzzi Lounge to discuss the troubling security situation in Israel.
At the end of the meeting, they issued a call for all Diaspora Jews visiting Israel to leave the country immediately for fear of worsening relations between Israel and the Hamas. “It’s not that we’re chickens,” they said. “We just want to be on the safe side.”
MISHLOACH MANOT FOR THE JEWS OF ISRAEL
This Purim the Jews of Israel were treated to a novel “Mishloach Manot,” the tradition Purim gift given to friends – a mishloach of 50 tons of deadly rockets and bombs headed for Gaza, sent to Israel by who else – the Haman of Iran. Happy Purim, hevre! Thank G-d, Tzahal saved the day.
COMING UP NEXT – AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RABBI ROCKY RABINOWITCH OF BROOKLYN – STAY TUNED!!
Have a happy Purim!
We are pleased to announce that the world famous Kabbalist, Rabbi “Rocky” Rabinowitz, will be online starting Motzei Shabbat to answer all of your Purim questions.
Until that time, we will very briefly address the special theme of Shabbat Zachor, when we are called upon to remember what Amalek did to us when we left Mitzraim, and to recall our obligation to erase the memory of Amalek from the earth after we have returned to Eretz Yisrael and overcome all of our other enemies, as it says: “when the L-rd your G-d gives you rest from all your enemies round about….”
Rashi gives us a play by play commentary detailing exactly what happened (Devarim, 25:17-19). Realizing that he couldn’t defeat us in outright combat, Amalek endeavored to first weaken our connection to Hashem. Knowing that Hashem abhors sexual transgression, Amalek sent their perverted tribesmen to lure the weakest Jews into homosexual acts. Having steeped themselves in impurity, these Jewish weaklings were cast out from the protective Clouds of Glory and Amalek pounced on them and killed them, as it says: “and smote the hindermost of thee, all that were feeble in the rear,” Then Rashi relates how Amalek castrated their victims and threw their organs heavenward, mocking G-d in saying, “Look at your holy chosen ones – what’s the difference between their behavior and ours?”
Since Amalek strove to destroy us spiritually as well as physically, we are called upon to remember our duty to wipe out his memory from the earth, especially on the Shabbat before Purim when we once again meet up with Amalek in the guise of his wicked offspring Haman.
Regarding Amalek today, as we previously noted, it is no longer clear who Amalek is ever since his seed was scattered amongst the nations. While the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Metzger, declared that the subhuman killers of the Fogel family were certainly Amalek, we cannot say that all Arabs belong to Amalek. Therefore, we certainly cannot kill all Arabs in the name of the commandment to destroy Amalek (assuming that we had already met the pre-condition of have achieved rest in our Land). However, we could expel all Arabs from our Land.
The problem is clear. For instance, after the murder of the Fogels, may Hashem avenge their blood, an inner government security cabinet met to decide how to react. In addition to the promise to track the killers down, they (Netanyahu, Barak, Began, Boogie, and Vilnai) decided to build 500 new homes in the established block of larger settlements that are to remain under Israeli sovereignty in any fairytale agreement. None of these gentlemen are known for their great religious fervor, and, in my opinion, that is a major problem, preventing us from taking decisive action against our enemies. Until the religious run things in Israel, we will always have wishy-washy responses. Until we are guided by the Torah and the trust in Hashem, we will always appear weak in the eyes of our enemies.
What’s the solution?
Religious Jews must unite! This will attract many other Jews who have a love and respect for our traditions to join with them. Within a short time, the religious can have a profound influence in all facets of what goes on in Israel, and we will be the majority.
In order to do this, the religious Jews of the Diaspora must make aliyah and stopped pretending that it isn’t their fight. How can Israel declare to the world that Eretz Yisrael is the Land of the Jews, when the Palestinians seem to love the Land more than the Jews of the Diaspora?
In addition, the Haredi Jews in Israel must wake up to the fact that Judaism is more than shuckling in shul and eating gefilta fish. They must face up to the fact that Judaism is the building of the Jewish Nation in Eretz Yisrael and going off to war to defend it as the Torah demands.
On their part, the Dati-Leumi camp must strengthen their attachment to the stringencies of the Torah, particularly in regards to modesty. If they want the Haredim to come to their demonstrations and funerals, may they be only funerals of our enemies, then there must be a clear separation between men and women at public events.
In the spirit of Purim, we have to learn to work together, as it says in the Megilla, “Gather all the Jews together!” The Dati-Leumi crowd will agree to attend the demonstrations of the Haredim against digging up the bones of dead Jews from 3000 years past; and the Haredim will agree to attend Dati-Leumi demonstrations against kicking living Jews out of their homes today. That way there will be more power and money and effective influence for everyone, and we will dominate government committees and be able to transfer all of the Arabs out of the country and relocate them in Saudi Arabia and Japan.
In all of the images of darkness and destruction coming out of Japan, there is a ray of light. A former reader of this blog, Daniel of Kyota, reports that he is not in danger in Japan, but rather ensconced in the temporarily safer exile of Toronto. We would like to take this opportunity to send him our greetings and bless him by asking G-d, in His compassion and kindness, to bring him, and all of our other endangered brothers and sisters in exile, all the way home to Israel.
Ever since the quake and tsunami devastated the land of Buddhist shrines and idol worship, Israel radio and TV anchormen have been interviewing Israelis living in Japan to provide eyewitness coverage of the disaster. This morning, one of the radio’s most staunch, leftist, show hosts was startled to hear the expatriate Israeli whom he was interviewing demand that the government of Israel immediately send out a rescue team to remove him from a troubled area.
“You want the government of Israel to rescue you?” the surprised announcer asked.
“That’s right. What’s taking them so long? Can’t they do anything right?”
“You moved to Japan and you want Israel to rescue you?”
“That’s right. I’m an Israeli. Doesn’t Israel send rescue teams all over the world? It’s their job to get me out of here!”
“Let me get this straight,” the show host said. “You left Israel to live in Japan, where you probably have some high-salaried job, and you expect Israel to send out a rescue team to help you? Wouldn’t you call that chutzpah?”
“Why is it chutzpah? What difference does it make where I live? If a person could make a decent living in Israel and not have to do a month of milluim in the army every year, I’d live in Israel. Off course, it’s their duty to save me.”
With a sigh, the announcer changed subjects and asked a question about the situation in Japan. Given this introduction, I’d like to remind our readers, especially our brothers and sisters in exile, may G-d protect them wherever they may be, that as Jews, we are all commanded to love the Land of Israel. The following is excerpted from the book, which I am currently translating, “The Nation and the Land,” by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed. May its learning be dedicated to the memory of the holy Fogel family, "Horegai Malchut," who sacrificed their lives in their great love for the Land of Israel to atone for our sins.
The Torah teaches us to appreciate the “good Land” and to thank God for its bounties, as it says: “For the Lord your God brings you into a good Land… a Land in which you shall eat bread without scarceness; you shall not lack anything in it.... you shall bless the Lord your God for the good Land which He has given you” (Devarim, 8:7-10).
Quite often, we don’t pay attention to the simple meaning of these verses from the Torah. Their basic lesson is to love the Land of Israel, and to thank Hashem for giving it to us.
The Talmud relates that when Rabbi Abba would reach the border of Eretz Yisrael, he would kiss its stones, due to his tremendous love for the Land (Ketubot 112A and B). Rabbi Chiya bar Gamda, in his great love for the Land, would roll around in its dust to fulfill the verse: “You will arise and have mercy on Zion: for it is time to favor her; for the set time is come. For your servants hold her stones dear, and cherish her very dust” (Tehillim, 102:14-15).
Accordingly, the Rambam writes: “The great Torah scholars would kiss the borders of Eretz Yisrael, and embrace her stones, and roll in her dust, as the verse says, “For your servants hold her stones dear, and cherish her very dust” (Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 5:10).
One could ask: Why did the Rambam relate these stories in the Mishna Torah, his opus of halachah? What law do we learn from the fact that the great Torah scholars of Israel kissed the dust of the Land and hugged its very stones? Seemingly, the proper place for such stories would be in a book on agaddah or mussar, and not halachah. Rather, we learn something very important from this halachah – we have to love the Land of Israel. It is not enough to live in Israel and understand its great worth; we must also enthusiastically cherish our good and Holy Land.
The great sin of the Spies stemmed from their lack of love for the Land, as it is written, “They despised the cherished Land; they did not believe His word” (Tehillim, 106:24). Consequently, they spoke disparagingly about her, as it says, “And they spread an evil report of the Land which they had spied on for the Children of Israel, saying, The Land which we have gone to spy it out is a Land that eats up its inhabitants” (Bamidbar, 13:32).
Here we see how Eretz Yisrael is distinguished from all other lands. For the prohibition of lashon hara, speaking with an evil tongue, applies solely to people, in order not to cause them grief. There is no prohibition to speak lashon hara about trees or rocks, for they feel no sorrow. However, concerning Eretz Yisrael, it is forbidden to speak lashon hara about it, for one who speaks negatively about it denies the Torah, which praises the Land. He also prevents the revelation of the Name of God in the world, which is revealed only through the Nation of Israel in Eretz Yisrael – the Holy Land. The punishment for speaking against the Land is particularly severe. Even the Jews who received the Torah on Mt. Sinai, who were called “the generation of knowledge,” were harshly punished for speaking lashon hara and despising the Land. Death was decreed upon their generation, and the entry of the Children of Israel into the Land of Israel was delayed forty years.
Thus, it is told in the Talmud about the great Amoraim who would make every effort to prevent the Land of Israel from being seen in a negative light (See Ketubot 112A). If Rabbi Chanina, while walking in Eretz Yisrael, saw a stumbling block in the road, he would remove it. Rashi explains that he would clear roadways and repair obstructions because of his love for the Land. He would always seek out things that needed to be corrected, so that no one would speak badly about her roads.
Similarly, when they were conducting a Torah class outside, Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi would be careful to seat their students in the most comfortable place. In the morning, when it was a little cool, they would seat them in the sun. Towards the afternoon, when the sun became hot, they would seat them in the shade – so that no one would complain about Eretz Yisrael or about its climate.
Today, it is contingent upon us to rectify the sin of the Spies by praising the Land of Israel, and by thanking God for the wonderful present which He bequeathed to our fathers and to us. This is particularly applicable in our generation when millions of Jews, through the kindness of God, have merited to return to Israel, build families, and settle the Land – something which was denied to generations of righteous and holy Jews in the past. Therefore, we are obligated to constantly praise Eretz Yisrael, to cherish her landscapes, to beautify her open stretches with trees and flowers, to rebuild her highways, and to construct attractive and comfortable homes. We must also constantly repeat the words of Yehoshua and Calev, who stood up against all the evildoers and said, “The Land is very, very good” (Bamidbar 14:7), thus countering and rectifying the deep blemishes left by the sin of the Spies. Consequently, more Jews will be inspired to make aliyah, and fewer will leave her borders, thinking to find a better life elsewhere.
We will finish this topic with the words of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook (Igrot Riyah, Letter 96):
“The foundation of the exile, and the baseness which continues to proliferate in this world, stem from the lack of understanding of Eretz Yisrael, its sublime value and wisdom, and from not rectifying the sin of the Spies who spoke disparagingly about the Land. We are called upon to do the opposite - to speak her praises and herald her magnificence and glory, her holiness and honor. We can only hope that after all our praises, we merit to express even one iota of the proper transcendental desire due to “the land of delight,” to the splendor of her illuminating Torah, to the genius of her illuminating wisdom, and to the Divine Inspiration which prevails upon her.”
When I returned home yesterday from the long, heartbreaking funeral of the Fogel family, mother, father and three young children, who were savagely butchered in their home by Arab savages, I was physically and emotionally drained.
There were so many people there, you couldn’t get close to the cemetery in a car, so my wife and I walked along with myriads of mourners down the long hill to Har Menuchah, and then back home with a great heaviness in our feet and our hearts. After grabbing a bite to eat, I rushed off to the nursing home to help Mom with her afternoon exercises. I was so drained by the time I got home, I crashed out for an hour before my Sunday evening hevruta with Rav Mendelevitch. After “Tikun Hatzot” I didn’t have the koach to face a blank white page, so I went to sleep without continuing the blog that I started before the funeral.
In the morning, after exercises with Mom at the nursing home, I took a curious look at the Internet to see how the foreign media reported the funeral and brutal murders in Israel. Maybe I am naïve, but I was stupefied. I could hardly find an article! There were short pieces in the NY Times, and the LA Times, which focused more on potential settler retaliation than on the killings themselves, and nothing on CNN and Yahoo, as if slicing the head off a baby is too ordinary an event to report.
Everything was about the tsunami in Japan, so I’ll say a few words about it, before returning, blee nader, to the Itamar massacre in a future blog.
On Shabbat night in Yerushalayim, before we heard about the massacre, I attended a “Shalom Zachar,” celebrating the birth of a baby boy. Rabbi Dov Begun, the Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir was there, and I asked him what was the connection between the tsunami in Japan and the Redemption of Israel? He said that we know that everything that happens in the world is from G-d, especially great outbursts of nature like earthquakes and tidal waves, and that our Sages taught us that everything G-d does in the world, He does for the sake of Israel, but that we would have to wait and see how things developed.
On Shabbat morning, Rav Begun spoke at a kiddush following a bar mitzvah. He mentioned my question, and said he had thought about it some more and that there had to be some hint regarding such a world-shaking event as the earthquake and tsunami in this week’s Torah portion or Haftorah, which is the spiritual Internet of the world. Sure enough, at the very end of the Haftorah, we read:
“Sing O heavens, for the L-rd has done it; make a great thunderous clash you lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it; for the L-rd has redeemed Yaacov and glorified Himself in Israel” (Isaiah, 44:23).
What is an earthquake if not “a great thunderous clash of the lower parts of the earth?”
Didn’t you also see the photos of the forests and trees uprooted and swept along in the tsunami, reminding the world Who is the real Ruler of Heaven and Earth?
Richter shmichter. Nature my arse. In seconds, G-d can destroy Japan and Russia and America and all of the arrogant countries of Europe. The earthquake and tsunami was a wake-up lesson for the world – and for us – reminding us that we had better start paying some more serious attention to G-d. He, and He alone, rules the world, and not Japan, Russia, America, and the European Quartet.
So don’t be afraid my fellow Jews! Don’t be afraid, Bibi! The L-rd G-d of Israel, Master of Heaven and Earth, is on our side! Don’t be afraid of UN threats and boycotts and embargos and Obamas and cut-offs of foreign aid! G-d is our aid. “The Heavens declare the glory of G-d, and the Earth proclaims His praise!” “The power of the L-rd is over the roaring waters!” Sing out O mountains and forests and seas of Japan! The Redemption of Israel is near!
PS – Why Japan, you ask?
Japan, the home of Buddhism, Shinto shrines and spirits, is a bastion of idol worship and idol worshippers, perhaps Number 1 in the world.
Japan consistently votes against Israel in the UN.
Japan was Nazi German’s ally in World War 2.
I could give you a few more reasons why it was a tsunami, just like in the time of Noah and the Flood, but I won’t mention them here.
The main thing is:
WAKE UP WORLD! THE REDEMPTION OF ISRAEL IS NEAR!
A little old lady sits at the table across from my mother during meals at the nursing home. On her forearm is the number which the Germans, may they be erased from the earth, stamped into her flesh Auschwitz.
Like the barbaric Nazis, the wicked Haman was also from the seed of Amalek. Every day, one of the six things that we are called upon to remember is what Amalek did to us throughout our history, along with the national commandment to utterly destroy the seed of Amalek upon the ingathering of our scattered exiles and the re-establishment of our Torah Kingdom in Eretz Yisrael. As Purim approaches, we have an additional mitzvah to remember Amalek’s murderous atrocities against us, in the extra Torah portion that we read on Parshat Zachor, and in the Haftorah of the day. There we learn that King Shaul had the opportunity to annihilate Amalek completely, as Hashem had commanded him, but his misplaced compassion allowed the line of Jew haters to continue right down to this very day. On Purim itself, the noise we make at the mention of Haman’s name, and the foot stamping, are all part of stamping out Amalek’s memory, but, of course, it isn’t enough.
In another hour, the funeral will begin for the Fogel family, a few minutes away from my home. Feeling horrified by the savagery of the murders, and overwhelmed by the pain and anger that our whole nation is left with, it is difficult for to write about it just now. But everyone is talking about it in the media in Israel, so I will write a few words.
When the 8 yeshiva students were ruthlessly murdered two years ago, may their murders be avenged with a devastating vengeance, I wrote that the Torah describes Arabs as subhuman creatures. The INN editors changed my title to read something less radical, but the fact remains that the Yishmael of old has become an iota more civilized over the last three thousand years. As the Chofetz Chaim said, you can dress a Yishmaelite up in a suit and tie, you can send him to college, you can even grant him as degree as a professor, but he will always remain a “pere adam,” a wild beast that looks like a man. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook reiterated this understanding by explaining that in Hebrew grammar, adjectives come after the nouns they describe. We say a “bayit gadol” for a big house, or “tapuach adom” for a red apple. The thing itself comes first and then the adjective which describes it. The same with “pere adam.” First and foremost, the Yishmaelite, is a “pere,” a wild beast. Then, to describe him, the Torah adds the adjective “adam,” meaning that Yishmael is a beast that looks like a man. How clearly we were shown that yesterday with the barbaric bestial rampage of the sons of Yishmael that left a holy Jewish family screaming out to the world in a tsunami of blood. Even Shimon Peres was moved to remark that the killers bore no trace whatsoever to human beings.
Several years ago at Purim time, the holy Jewish martyr, Baruch Goldstein, of blessed memory, saved the Jews of Hevron from a planned Yishmaelite pogrom by gunning down dozens of Arabs in the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Unfortunately, the conflict with the Arabs continues, their pogroms continue, their killing continues, and the spirit of Amalek is still very much alive in their midst.
What can the Jewish People do to uproot this monstrous evil from our Land?
Right now, I have to leave for the funeral. Maybe afterwards, I can continue. Not now. I can’t.