Middle East 3:42 AM
Jewish World 12:13 AM 12/12/2013
Inside Israel 3:16 AM
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.
Early this morning, I drove my 18 year-old-daughter to the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem to catch a bus to Eilat where she is spending her year of Sherut Leumi National Service, working to bring the spirit of Torah to children from unreligious backgrounds. I reached home just in time to bless my son, the soldier, as he set off to his base up north, near the Lebanon border, where his elite Egoz Golani unit are stationed, the first to go after the Hizballah, when the occasion will arise. After getting the little ones off to school, I drove to Yad Benjamin to give a lecture on screenwriting at a film school for religious students. Last night, in order to prepare, I took a very quick glimpse at the movies “High Noon” and “Citizen Kane” to choose a film to talk about, like I used to do in the old days teaching screenwriting at NYU.
While I was explaining “High Noon” from the screenwriter’s POV (point of view), I realized what a perfect metaphor it was for our situation in Israel. We Israelis are like the sheriff who has to stand up alone and face the bad guys (the four kingdoms of Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome) after all of the townspeople back down, cringing from the battle which is due to commence at high noon, hiding behind their church pews, whisky glasses in the saloon, and behind their wives, who block the doorway, turning the marshall away. I don’t have to spell out who the townspeople represent in our parable, leaving us Israelis to go at it all alone, as if it weren’t their fight as well.
Of course, there are many exceptions. One of the most prominent is Dr. Irving Moskowitz, who is once again back in the news, with the announcement that building is underway in a new Jewish neighborhood in “East” Jerusalem, on a piece of property that he purchased, a Frisbee throw away from Israel’s Central Police Headquarters and the Israel Ministry of Science building on the other side of the street. Hopefully, the destruction of the former house of Hitler’s friend, the Mufti of Jerusalem, will put the final nail in the coffin of the Obama peace initiative, just like the Moskowitz projects of opening the Kotel Tunnels and building Rasal Amud, knocked other American peace powwows off their tracks as the clock ticked down to high noon.
Dr. Moskowitz doesn’t just donate money to worthy causes. He rolls up his trousers and gets involved with the nitty gritty, frequently visiting Israel, where he has a home, in addition to his house in Florida. While he spends much of the year in America, running his business concerns, he is on the phone to Israel, literally day and night. As much as anyone, he is fighting the battle with us to hold down the fort until all of our reinforcements arrive from the far corners of the world. Now that he has been slowed down by an illness, his wife is continuing his work.
During my last visit to the Moskowitz home in Florida, where I had the honor of sitting hours upon hours with the Doctor, preparing an authorized biography for his family, I had the unique opportunity to discover what made “Citizen Moskowitz” tick, to uncover the “Rosebud” of his life, the spark plug that gave him such a towering love for the Jewish People, and a superhuman drive to further the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the restoration of the Nation of Israel in Eretz Yisrael.
In truth, just as the reporter in the film “Citizen Kane” admits – no one thing can sum up all of a man’s life and achievements – but it became clear to me that Dr. Moskowitz’s “Rosebud” was his beloved wife, Cherna. Again and again, he would interrupt his narratives to give credit to his wife for her selfless backing and support, as well as for her sound counsel and advice. The adage that “behind every great man is a great woman” certainly applies to Dr. Moskowitz. She herself says, that besides raising her family of eight children, her work, side-by-side with her husband, on behalf of the Jewish People in Israel, is the most rewarding thing in her life.
Their selflessness for the Jewish People, their willingness to give all of their time, and efforts, and resources, to the rebuilding of Israel, flashed through my mind as I watched Gary Cooper standing alone, facing down the enemy on the deserted streets of the town that he loved, side-by-side with the woman who was willing to sacrifice everything to save him.
This year, I nominate Dr. Irving Moskowitz as a recipient of the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism. There isn’t a more deserving candidate.
He is an example for all of us.
Sometimes, even the most asinine, ranting and raving talkbacks have an iota of truth which forces us to explain, in greater depth, matters which people don't understand, or never learned.
Sometimes, even the most asinine, ranting and raving talkbacks have an iota of truth which forces us to explain, in greater depth, matters which people don't understand, or never learned. This is often the case with the Torah of Chutz L'Aretz, which focuses on the individual, and the private mitzvot he can perform in the Diaspora; rather than on the nation as a whole in all of its facets, including the ingathering of the exiles, Redemption, Jewish Kingship, and the supreme mitzvah of conquering and settling the Land of Israel, which our Sages have taught is equal to all the other commandments in the Torah.
For instance, bad mouthing the Land of Israel is a terrible transgression. This is how Rabbi Eliezer Melamed describes it in his book, "HaAm v'HaAretz," which I have the honor to be currently translating. He writes:
THE 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 her 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 Sages 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 immigrate 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 our teacher, 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 after all our praises, that 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, for the Divine Inspiration which prevails upon her.”
Chodesh tov and Shabbat shalom.
Prompted by the discovery of what could be the world’s oldest Torah scroll, unearthed by archeologists in the Sinai wilderness, a short distance away from the legendary mountain, where Moses received the Torah, INN blogger, Tzvi Fishman, has issued a moving statement, asking American Jews to forgive him for admonishing them for not coming to Israel on aliyah.
French and German archeologists at the site of the dig say that the Torah scroll may very well be the original scroll written by Moses himself. The most startling revelation is that wherever the words “the land of the Canaani” appear in normal Torah scrolls, the words “the land of the Cherokee” appear instead. Other discrepancies discovered in the ancient text also reveal that America may have been the original Promised Land, and that the Israelis changed the original wording in order to dupe the world into believing that the Land of Israel was the Holy Land instead.
Here are some examples:
“In that same day, the L-rd mad a covenant with Avram, saying, ‘To your seed have I given this land, from the Delaware River to the great California coastal highway, the lands of the Cherokee, and the Comanche, and the Blackfoot, and the Sioux” (Genesis, 15:18).
“And the L-rd said to Moses, I have surely seen the affliction of thy people who are in Egypt… and I am come down to bring them out of that land to a good and large land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Cherokee, and the Comanche, and the Blackfoot, and the Sioux” (Exodus, 3:8).
“The L-rd our G-d spoke to us in Sinai, saying, You have dwelt long enough in this mountain; turn and take up your journey and go to the land of the Cherokee, from California, to the New York island, from the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters. This land is your land, this land is My land; this land was made for you and me” (Exodus, 1:6).
“And I will set thy borders from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, from the Navaho desert and the Gulf of Mexico unto the falls of Niagra and the plains of Canada, from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to the islands of Hawaii and the tundra of Alaska, from the sewers of Flatbush, to the crap tables of Vegas, and the shores of the Malibu” (Exodus, 23:31).
Meanwhile, the Jews in Israel are in a frenzied panic. The Prime Minister’s Office has issued a statement saying that an emergency Knesset committee will investigate the matter. Orthodox Jewish leaders in Jerusalem claim that the revolutionary Torah scroll unearthed in the Sinai is a fake, in a "Peace Now" backed Palestinian and European Community plot to undermine Israel’s biblical claim to its homeland. In Washington, speculation has it that the United States may not veto a General Assembly resolution to oust Israel from the UN.
“I was wrong,” INN’s Fishman admits. “This discovery proves that America is the Promised Land. I'm so embarassed over all the blogs that I wrote. I’m packing up my family and moving back to New York as soon as I can.”
The good news is that tourism to Israel is booming. The bad news is that most of the visitors aren't Jewish.
Last week, INN reported:
“The year 2010 set a record in tourism to Israel, according to the Ministry of Tourism, with 3.45 million arrivals registered. The majority of incoming tourists this year (69 percent) were Christian, more than half of whom were Catholic). 23 percent were Jewish. The others were of various faiths or unaffiliated.
In my eyes, it’s pathetic. After all, the Christians come here to visit the site where their god was killed, while our G-d still dwells here.
I remember reading somewhere that only 15% of American Jews have visited Israel. It may be somewhat higher now that the Birthright organization is giving away free trips to young people, but the vast majority, for some unknown reason, have kept away.
What gets me is that they travel to everywhere else in the world, from Berlin to Bangkok, but not to the Jewish homeland.
After all, if they have the money to walk on the Great Wall in China, gondola along the sewers of Venice, and go on safaris to Kenya, they can afford a trip to Israel too.
I can’t figure it out. After all, we have nice hotels here, and fine cuisine, sunshine, swimming, the most beautiful women in the world, not to mention holy and historical places like the Kotel and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron.
So why don’t Jewish tourists flock here?
None of my cousins have come. Nor any of their cousins. Old friends from America never call up and say, “Hey, Fish, guess what? I’m at Ben Gurion Airport! When can we meet?”
What keeps them from coming?
I don’t really think it’s the danger. After all, some of them have climbed the Himilayas, and sailed along the Amazon River, and bungeed down the cliffs of Nepal, braved the venereal diseases of Thailand, and the beaches of Cannes, but they’ve never been to Israel.
And between you and me, there really isn’t a whole lot of danger for tourists here. Once in a far while, a tourist get killed in some terror attack, but I’m sure the statistics are just as high anywhere else if you would do a study on the subject.
So why don’t they come? What are they afraid of? I just can’t figure it out.
Judging from the swarm of missionary talkbacks I received from my previous blog, scores of Christians are reading my stuff. Of course, I deleted them all. I have no intention of turning this column into a rag sheet for missionaries (it has unfortunately already become a pasting board for a motley lot of Israel bashers and other self-hating Jews).
So once again, I am broadcasting the message loud and clear, this is a blog FOR JEWS ONLY. Christians, Buddhists, Snake Worshippers, and Voodoo Witch Doctors are invited to search elsewhere on the web for reading matter.
As “Fiddler on the Roof’s” Tevye said: “May the L-rd bless the Czar and keep him – far away from us!”
From their brainwashed responses, I realized how right I was – brothers and sisters, run for your lives. There is no reasoning with these people. No presentation of truth or intellectual persuasion can faze them. It is forbidden to talk with them about their heretical beliefs. Until hell freezes over, they won’t abandon their myths.
Let it be stated straight out – I have no intentions of teaching Torah to the goyim. Teaching Torah to the infidels, especially its secrets, is a big no-no that I want no part of.
But there’s a real problem here. The Internet is open to everyone. Here I am writing to Jews, and my blog is swarmed with cyberspace aliens, just the way that flies are attracted to honey.
I don’t know what to do! How can I continue knowing that Peter, Paul, and Mary are reading everything I write? How can I be intimate with my own mishpachah when strangers are ease dropping on everything I say? Gevalt!
Who knows how many new porn sites they have posted, having discovered how lethal pornography is to Jews?!
And I’m to blame!
This is a very serious question. I’m going to ask a rabbi. Of course, I already did in the beginning. But with the tsunami of talkbacks that I’ve been receiving over the last 48 hours, from Boston to Bangkok, what was a theoretical-virtual-digital-dilemma has become far more concrete.
What would you do? Should I give up the blog? Or switch to writing in Hebrew? Or keep blasting away the truth of our Sages?
At this moment, I don’t know what to tell you.