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Ask the Rabbi
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.
Adar 9, 5771, 2/13/2011
“Shovavim” is over but the yetzer hara is still very much with us. So to help people out all year round, I wrote a new 70-page booklet on Shmirat HaBrit that is now available for free downloading at www.jewishsexuality.com.
People who have read it say that it is a revolutionary treatment of the subject, particularly its use of powerful visuals, which bring the issue out of the closet in a way that can’t be ignored.
Some readers of this blog try to play down the importance of this subject, but I receive heartbreaking cries for help each week, from students and teachers, married people and singles, young people and old.
Every week, I receive desperate cries for help.
For those of you who would like to help, I have almost completed the Hebrew version of the booklet, which G-d willing, I hope to mass print and distribute free in Israel to high schools, colleges, yeshivot, youth groups, soldiers, sports clubs, etc.
Trying to put out the inferno.
Your donations will help me reach as many people as possible. As stated in the “Tanya,” the giving of charity is one of the main paths of atonement over sexual transgressions (Igeret HaTshuva, Ch.3). And helping others break free from the darkness of sin to the life-giving light of t’shuva is considered to be the greatest tikun of all (Zohar, Parshat Trumah 128B.)
Donations can be sent to:
19 Shoshana Street
Jerusalem, Israel 96149
May Hashem bless you from Zion.
Adar 4, 5771, 2/8/2011
While repentance is always praiseworthy and acceptable before the All Merciful One, this is the final week of “Shovavim” when repentance over sexual sins is especially worthwhile. So everyone should make a last-minute effort to do something to make amends for past mistakes, and to start out on a new beginning.
As we have written here, and on www.jewishsexuality.com, there are many paths of t’shuva, whether it be fasting, giving tzedaka, learning more Torah, jumping in a mikvah, reciting the “Tikun HaKlali” over the spilling of semen in vain, or the “Tikun Hatzot” over the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile, or simply pouring out one’s heart to G-d in heartfelt sorrow.
It's worse than eating pork!
One thing is certain - nightly cyberspace tours through the lingerie department at eBay must stop, along with the bikini competitions on youtube, and the hot celebrity photos on Yahoo, ad infinitum. Most of you won’t eat pork – why pollute your souls with watching all kinds of immodest ham shots? The damage you cause is much worse!
This is what happens every time you look at something you shouldn't.
At the very least, if you don’t yet have a filter on your computer, download one now, and give your wife, or your best friend, the code, so you can’t sneak peeks whenever you get the urge. Not to mention getting rid of cell phones that can pick up all the smut in the world.
And remember, for those of us who are married – our wives are to be treated lovingly and respectfully according to halachah, and not like whores off the street, G-d forbid. Do yourselves a favor while the gates of penitence are wide open, and brush up on the laws covering the holy marital union as well.
The Zohar tells us that the Holy One Blessed Be He hates sexual immorality more than anything else. Now’s the time. Don’t wait for the thunderbolt to strike. Take advantage of this unique opportunity. Even one seemingly small improvement. Remember, someone who sanctifies himself even a little in this world, is sanctified a great deal from Above.
I know you don’t like hearing it, but what can I do? Our Sages teach that someone who has the opportunity to rebuke wrongdoers and doesn’t, he is punished first (Shabbat 54B-55A). Even if he feels they won’t listen, he still has the obligation to fulfill the mitzvah of rebuking his fellow (Vayikra, 19:17-18). What I say to you, I say to myself as well. No one is free from this matter, as our Sages teach, “There is no tzaddik who does good and doesn’t sin.”
So remember the address: www.jewishsexuality.com. Tell all your friends. You’ll be doing them a big favor.
Adar 3, 5771, 2/7/2011
I love Israelis. I think they’re the nicest people in the world. Let me give you an example.
Because of my many sins, my car started to complain, so I had to take it to the garage for some “tikunim,” what people generally call repairs. Having to do something in town, I hopped on a bus. Was I in for a surprise!
First, let me preface what happened by saying that I haven’t traveled on a bus for a long time. Having a car, I don’t need to go public. So when a man, who was probably a little older than me, stood up in the crowded bus and kindly offered me his seat, I was stunned! Declining his considerate offer, I walked along deeper into the vehicle when a soldier stood up and offered me his seat as well.
“What is going on here?” I wondered. The last time I was on a bus, no one offered me their seat. Then I realized that time had passed, and I now had a long grey-white beard, and though I still felt 30 years-old inside, I now looked about 3000.
Once again I declined the polite offer. As I moved further along the double accordion bus, a teenage girl stood up to graciously offer me her seat. Not yet being an official senior citizen with a Jerusalem Municipality Senior Citizens card, I turned down her offer as well. Beside me, a young Ethiopian fellow graciously gave up his seat to a woman with a baby carriage and baby.
Offering a lady his seat.
You see, Israelis are very polite and considerate. So, if you happened to get an elbow in your side, or your foot stepped on during your last visit to Israel, chances are you deserved it, just like me with my car.
Shevat 30, 5771, 2/4/2011
If you are looking for magnificent mountains, awe-inspiring wildernesses, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, crystal clear beaches, spirituality, fun, and all the luxury and excitement the world has to offer, you don’t have to shlep to Thailand and India – Eilat has it all!
Sunset in Eilat
We just got back from a three day, blogless, fun, and spiritually uplifting vacation to Eilat. When the Torah says that the Land of Israel doesn’t lack anything, it's right. From the snow-capped Hermone, to the forests of the Galil, and the beaches of Netanya, to the Holy City of Jerusalem, and the incredible tropic beauty of Eilat, this country has everything.
It’s interesting that in addition to Jerusalem, the top of the world, Israel also has the Yam HaMelech, which is the lowest.
Wherever you find holiness, you’ll also find the opposite. On the one hand, if you are looking to envelope your body in mud baths, sunshine, mineral water, hot baths, warms baths, cool pools, Jacuzzis, saunas, massages, steam rooms, health clubs…. the Dead Sea is the place. But it is also the place where King David composed some of his most transcendentally spiritual Psalms. It all depends on you.
At the Spa
This week’s Torah portion talks about the Mishkan whose walls were made from the wood of Acadia trees. Driving down to Eliat, you see them all over.
On the road.
Masada in the distance.
Oh beautiful for spacious skies!
Home home on the range.
There's nothing like praying in the wilderness.
If you’re looking for minyans, mikvahs, kosher food, and a spiritual high, they’re waiting for you in Eilat.
Morning mikvah in Eilat.
If you’re looking for luxury and beauty, you’ll find it there too.
If luxury is your thing, Eilat's got it.
Our bungalow hotel.
The Land that doesn't lack anything.
Sunrise at the hotel
Our sages compared the Redemption to the dawning sunrise which comes slowly slowly until the light is revealed in its full force.
It ain't Japan.
Get there early and give your eyeballs a break.
A relaxing cruise in the Gulf of Eilat while the mutiny in Cairo is just a short sail away.
We had a great time! I can’t wait to go back!
Chodesh Adar tov!
Shevat 25, 5771, 1/30/2011
In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, “Mishpatim,” we learn that if a Hebrew slave does not want go free after his term of service had ended, he is brought to a door and his master “shall bore his ear though with an awl” (Shemot, 21:6). Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook, of blessed memory, head of the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, used this example to describe the tragedy of Jews who lived in the Diaspora and didn’t want to leave:
HaRav Tzvi Yehuda was 100% faithful to his father's teachings.
“It is a tragedy when Jews falls in love with the Galut” he told a group of Bnei Avika students visiting Israel from the Diaspora. “It is written in the Torah portion, ‘Mishpatim,’ that after six years, a Hebrew slave must go free. If he refuses, saying, ‘I love my master – I won’t go out to freedom’ (Shemot, 21:5), this is a terrible thing. Likewise, when a Jew falls in love with Galut, saying, ‘I love my master, the foreign gentile nation,’ this is a tragic catastrophe, both for him and for our nation.”
The students were speechless. Rabbi Kook wasn’t the usual kind of rabbi these young people were used to. He was the son of the famous HaRav Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook, a giant Torah scholar in his own right, and the founder of the Gush Emunim settlement movement in Israel, who had sent his best students out to the hilltops and mountains of Judea and Samaria, to resettle the Biblical cities of Hevron, Shilo, Beit-El, Elon Moreh, Gush Etzion, and many many others from the Golan Heights to Gush Katif.
To give our beloved brothers the benefit of the doubt, as we explained in the book “Torat Eretz Yisrael,” a Jew who was born outside the Land of Israel, and who spent his whole life in the Diaspora, doesn’t know any other reality. He readily becomes a creature of the foreign culture which surrounds him, and he becomes estranged from his natural connection to Israel, his natural homeland. Identifying with the culture where he lives, he doesn’t feel a need for his own Jewish government, or Jewish army, or Jewish land. The government of America, or Canada, or South Africa takes care of his needs. In the absence of Jewish nationhood, gentile cultures and pastimes occupy the dominant role in his daily existence. Thus the ingathering of the Jewish people to Israel, the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the settlement of Eretz Yisrael, upon which the Redemption of the Jewish nation is based, become secondary issues in his life. He doesn’t experience his residence in a foreign country as an exile at all, and because of his alienation from the deeper levels of Torah and the goals of the nation, he doesn’t feel the pain and poverty of living in a gentile land.
In contrast, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda wanted this group of Diaspora youth to know that living in a foreign land was a terrible situation, indeed, not only in being a minority in someone else’s country, but even in the air that people breathe. Just as the food we eat influences our physical metabolism, we are careful to eat kosher food, because we understand that to live a holy spiritual life, we must observe the dietary laws which G-d decreed for the Jewish People. The food we eat has a direct effect on our souls. How much more so the air we breathe, and the country we live in! In Eretz Yisrael, we are surrounded by holiness, by the holy air and holy soil. Every moment we are here we are performing a mitzvah, as our Sages teach: “Everyone who walks four cubits in the Land of Israel merits a portion in the World to Come” (Ketubot 111A). In contrast, outside of the Land of Israel, the air is spiritually impure, the land is impure, even halachically, the Diaspora is categorized as possessing a defilement similar to that of a grave (Shabbat 14B, beginning “Yosi ben Yoezer….” See also, Nazir54B, Tosefot beginning “Eretz….” Also, Gaon of Vilna, “Likutei HaGra,” end of Safra D’Tzni-uta.)
“We mustn’t forget that the gentile nations do us a favor by allowing us to stay in their lands,” Rabbi Kook taught the youngsters. “Until the day comes when they throw us out. A Jew must realize that he is on a foreign soil there. It is not our society, nor government, nor historical homeland. Nothing there is ours. Only in Israel are we at home, with family, living according to our customs, and our uniquely Jewish year, living in the place designed for our holiness, for our psychological and physical health. We must return to our true Jewish selves, to our mental and psychological health, to our true national Israeli identity, as the Children of Israel, and turn away from unhealthy polluted places, and from our foreign masters, and from environments that are so foreign and disorienting that one forgets who he really is and thinks that it is normal to live amongst the gentiles. This is a tragic mistake” (See the book, “Torat Eretz Yisrael,” Ch.5).
After this introduction, here, in my opinion, are the 10 hottest reasons for moving to Eretz Yisrael:
1. This is where Hashem wants us to be.
2. This is the place where you can get closest to G-d.
3. It is a Torah commandment to live in the Land of Israel.
4. You can observe more mitzvot here.
5. You can have a far more Jewish life here, breathing holy air, treading on holy soil, speaking your own holy language, instead of the language of the gentiles.
6. Your children will grow up proud, Hebrew-speaking Jews, sure to marry Jewish spouses.
7. Assimilation is steadily increasing in the Diaspora. If you send your kids to college in the Diaspora, what’s the chance that they’ll marry a Jew?
8. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in the Diaspora. And as they say, history repeats itself. Throughout the Exile, wherever the Jews lived, the persecutions and expulsions inevitably arrived.
9. When you stand in the Heavenly Court of Judgment, when Hashem asks you why you didn’t take part in the glorious, historic ingathering of the exiles and rebuilding of Jerusalem that He fashioned for us in our time, you won’t have to face the horrible embarrassment of explaining why you stayed in Brooklyn, or Toronto, or Melbourne.
10. …………….. (I’ll leave it open for my fellow Israelis to finish off the list.)