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Life Lessons with Judy Simon
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.
Once again, talkbacks are heating up and turning into personal attacks rather than cultured discussion. So, to cool things down, let’s switch topics to s@x.
I am quite aware that INN readers don’t have any problems whatsoever with viewing forbidden sites on the Internet, but I’ll mention a few things in the hope that you can pass the knowledge on to acquaintances who may have fallen into the darkness of their passions and have trouble overcoming the easy temptations of clicking onto porn sites and the like.
It should be noted that the Torah prohibition, “Thou shall not follow after your heart and your eyes which cause you to stray after them,” applies to looking at immodest images of all types, whether it be hot babes in bikinis, lingerie ads, youtube teasers, models on the runway, as well as hard porn. The damages it causes to the Jewish brain and soul is the same. Many questions and answers, and articles posted on the jewishsexuality.com website deal with this tragic problem in depth, so I won’t elaborate here. Suffice it to say, that the infinite harem of floosies in everyone’s home computer, cell phone, and laptop, is the number one spiritual danger facing the Jewish People today, a major cause of the terrible draught in Israel, and our greatest enemy since the whores of Midian, the homosexual wiles of Amalek, and Potiphar’s wife.
Those who do not guard the Covenant of sexual holiness cause separation between the Jewish People and G-d, as it says in the Shema, “And you turn aside and worship other gods and bow down to them,” and afterward it says, “He will shut up the Heaven so that there shall be no rain.” The Zohar explains that bowing down to foreign gods means engaging in sexual relations with non-Jewish women. The Jews never believed in idol worship, but engaged in it to have an excuse for the sexual perversions that went hand-in-hand with it (Zohar Bereshit, 189B).
Let’s face it. Most of the naked and half-naked sluts on the Internet are shiksas. When someone looks at them, and let’s out a long, “Oh, baby,” sigh of longing, it is like he is bowing down to a foreign god. If, G-d forbid, he spills semen because of this, he is giving his holy energy to the forces of the Other Side. The Zohar explains that the Torah verse, “You shall not give your seed to Molech,” means precisely this.
He is also violated the commandments, “Do not turn astray after their gods,” and “Thou shall not make for yourself molten gods” (Zohar, Vayikra84A).
Furthermore, the Talmud teaches that it is forbidden for a man to gaze upon the beauty of a woman, so that he should not come to evil thoughts and be incited to spill semen in vain (Avodah Zara 20B). Someone who does this is guilty of three Torah prohibitions: gazing at the beauty of a woman, or immodest Internet image; having fantasies about her; and emitting semen in vain.
The Rambam writes: “Whoever gazes at a woman forbidden to him, and says to himself that there is nothing wrong with this, for he hasn’t had sexual relations with her, or even touched her, is mistaken. Gazing at women is a serious wrongdoing, which brings a man to further sexual transgression, as it says, ‘You shall not go astray after your hearts and your eyes’” (Rambam, the Laws of Tshuva, 4:4).
Furthermore, we learn from this week’s Torah portion the gravity of spilling semen in vain, whether through coitus interruptus, as with the sons of Yehuda, Er and Onan, or via pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, masturbation, and the full gamut of sexual prohibitions.
The halachah in the “Shulchan Aruch” states: “It is forbidden to discharge semen in vain. This is a graver sin than any other mentioned in the Torah. Those who practice masturbation and cause the spilling of semen in vain, not only commit a grave sin, they are under a ban, concerning which it is said, ‘Your hands are full of blood,’ and it is equivalent to killing a person.’ See what Rashi wrote concerning Er and Onan in the portion Veyeshev (Bereshit, Ch.37) that they both were stricken by Heaven for the commission of this sin” (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, 23:1; and see the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Ch. 151).
Thankfully, Hashem is an all-forgiving Father, ready to accept our sincere, heartfelt calls for pardon. While atonement over sexual transgression requires a serious course of repentance, and not just a passing clop on the chest before clicking on to the next forbidden site, anyone who wants to renew his connection to G-d that he has damaged through his sexual wrongdoings is certainly able to do so.
Now I ask you – wouldn’t you rather I write about aliyah?
I am now accused of dividing the Nation. Ha ha ha ha ha! That’s a good one!
First, let’s start out with a little history.
After the Sin of the Spies, and wandering 40 years in the wilderness in punishment for their not wanting to come to the Land of Israel, the Jews who survived finally reached the bank of the Yarden River.
When the tribes of Reuven and Gad, who possessed great herds of sheep and cattle, saw that the region was good for grazing, they approached Moshe, requesting that he exempt them from crossing over the Jordan to enter Eretz Yisrael proper. Instead, they asked that their inheritance fall on the eastern side of the river, since it was suitable for their herds (See Bamidbar, Ch.32).
In his book, “HaAm v”HaAretz,” Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, head of the Har Bracha Yeshiva, points out that Moshe Rabbeinu’s answer was surprisingly harsh. First, he condemned them, saying, “Why should your brothers go out and fight while you stay here?!” (Bamidbar, 32:6). Furthermore, he blamed them for repeating the sin of the Spies who rejected the Land of Israel, persuading the Jewish People not to enter the Land. Their rebellion greatly aroused God’s anger, to the point where He decreed that the entire generation would die in the wilderness. And behold – here once again, the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and half the tribe of Menasha, were causing Israel to sin and falter by not entering the Land! Perhaps, they too, like the Spies, would bring on a terrible disaster by dividing the nation, in their not wanting to participate in G-d’s command to conquer and dwell in the Land. Moshe chastised them at length for this.
Now who threatened to divide the nation in this sad situation? Moshe, for rebuking the rebels, or those who didn’t want to take part in the conquest of Eretz Yisrael?
When Moshe finished his rebuke, the members of the tribes of Reuven and Gad answered, saying that their intention was not to evade the war, but rather they would first build enclosures for their livestock, and build cities for their children, and afterwards, go out as an advance guard in front of Israel to conquer all the Land. Only after all the tribes were settled in their respective inheritances would they return to their lands on the eastern side of the Jordan.
Rabbi Melamed notes that seemingly, after all this promise, Moshe Rabbeinu should have been reconciled with them, perhaps even apologizing for his suspicions. Nevertheless, from his response, it still seems that he was concerned that they would not fulfill their words. Therefore, he once again requests they commit themselves explicitly, with a double stipulation, solidifying their commitment to partake in the conquest of the Land.
The reason for Moshe’s suspicion is that there was a fundamental problem with their desire to inherit the eastern side of the Jordan. Their order of priorities was faulty. Their motive for desiring to inherit that specific portion of the Land wasn't because they felt a deep connection to it, as a place where they could fulfill their unique goal of revealing the Name of God in the world. Rather, they simply were concerned about their possessions.
Therefore, even after they promised to be the first to go out to war, Moshe Rabbeinu remained suspicious. He knew that if they did not elevate their motives above their own private material concerns for their livestock and families, to the higher intention of inheriting the Land together with all of Israel, in order to reveal the word of God in the world, they would not be successful.
As our Sages have said, there are wealthy people who don’t understand that wealth is a gift from Heaven. Instead, their craving for riches controls them, to the point where they are removed from the world, along with their wealth. “And thus you find concerning the tribes of Reuben and Gad, who were wealthy and possessed large herds. They cherished their wealth and resided outside of the Land of Israel. Therefore, they were exiled first amongst all the tribes, as it is written, ‘And he carried away the Re’uveni, and the Gadi, and the half tribe of Menashe’ (Divrei Hayamim 1, 5:26). What caused this? It was due to the fact that they separated themselves from their brothers because of their possessions” (Bamidbar Rabbah, 22:7).
They even placed their concern for their herds ahead of their concern for the future of their children.
Once again, who is the cause of the separation here? Moshe or the tribes who didn’t want to settle in Israel alongside their brothers?
Since, a sizable portion of the Jews of America will be watching Thanksgiving Day football games today on TV, I will use a more mundane metaphor. A football stadium is divided between the players on the field who are playing the game, and the spectators who are watching from the grandstands and bleachers.
I am like a cheerleader down on the field, urging the spectators to abandon their comfortable seats and come join in the game.
“Come on, fellas!” I yell. “You’ve got what it takes! Don’t be afraid! You can be a player too! One, two, three, four, you are capable of much much more!”
Now tell me. Who is causing the separation? The blogger in Israel calling his brothers and sisters to come on aliyah and join along with the rest of us in fulfilling the great mitzvah of settling the Land, or those who reject the call, preferring to remain in foreign countries, watching the game on TV?
It’s like a man who was walking past a swamp when he noticed someone drowning in quicksand. He reached out his hand to save the person, but the sinking man spit in his face.
“Grab my hand,” the rescuer insisted.
“Leave me alone!” the drowning man yelled back.
“You’re sinking in quicksand!” the rescuer answered.
“This isn’t quicksand,” the drowning man replied. “It’s a miracle mud bath filled with healthy minerals. I’m in the middle of a treatment.”
I don’t mind wiping the spit off my face in my efforts to rescue my drowning brothers and sisters who are sinking in the quicksand of galut. Actually, I have an anti-spit spam installed on my computer that filters out saliva. If any gets through, I keep a package of wipes at my side to wipe off the spit. So I’m protected. Anyway, I don’t let a handful of hawkers discourage me. In the time that I have been writing this blog, close to a million visitors have clicked on, so what’s the big deal about a little digital abuse? The vast silent majority of readers surely appreciate what I write, otherwise they wouldn’t keep coming back for more.
Like I’ve said, it isn’t their fault that their brains are clogged to the message. In addition to the reasons we’ve cited, Rabbi Kook explains that the spiritual pollution of the galut is so thick that a Jew is unable to think straight.
“It is impossible for a Jew to be devoted and faithful to his contemplations, logical reasonings, conceptualizations, and imaginations when he is outside the Land of Israel, compared to the quality of their faithfulness in Eretz Yisrael.
“Revelations of holiness, on whatever level, are clean in Eretz Yisrael, while outside of the Land, they are mixed with abundant dross and impure husks (kelipot)” (Orot, 1:4).
Simply put, outside of the Land of Israel there is a lot of impure static. The poisonous debris of foreign cultures, religions, and ideologies, pollutes the environment of galut and seeps by osmosis into the brains of the Jew living there. Instead of a healthy, normal “Jewish kop” they have a “goyisha kop” which prevents them from understanding the deep foundations of Judaism, including the need to live in their own Jewish Land.
Rabbi Kook continues:
“The faculty of imagination in the Land of Israel is lucid and clear, and pure, ready for the revelation of Divine truth and prophecy and its lights.
“In contrast, the faculty of imagination which is found in the lands of the gentile nations is ugly, clouded in darkness and in shadows of defilement and pollution. It cannot rise to the heights of kedusha.
“Because the intellect and the imagination are bound up together, and interact one upon the other, the intellect which is outside the Land of Israel is incapable of being illuminated with the light which exists in Eretz Yisrael” (Orot, 1:5).
Granted, Rabbi Kook says it far more eloquently than I do, but the message is clear, at least to Jews blessed with living in Israel. Growing up in galut, surrounded by gentile neighbors, sparkling Christmas trees, shiksa co-eds, the Star Spangled Banner at ballgames, People Magazine, health clubs loaded with Sallys, Wendys, and Janes, all-night singles bars, Presidents like Jimmy Carter and Hussein Obama, Thanksgiving traditions and the Fourth of July, coupled with the overwhelming spiritual darkness of galut, can make Eretz Yisrael seem irrelevant to Jewish life.
You can spit at me all you want, but if you don’t understand what Rabbi Kook is saying, that’s proof in itself that he’s right.
Some readers ask me why I waste my time trying to convince Jews in the Diaspora to come on aliyah. They say it’s a losing cause. The truth is, it’s my feeling that the message I try to convey is important not only to our brothers and sisters still groping in the darkness of exile, but also to those of us who have already been blessed with the incomparable light and blessing of living in the Holy Land, the Land of our Forefathers, G-d’s chosen Land, where the Torah is meant to be kept.
We too can become tarnished in the day-to-day routines of life and take our being in Israel for granted. That’s why I remind myself every morning that I’m in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of the Torah, the Land of my holy Forefathers, the Land that Hashem watches over with a special Divine Providence from the beginning of the year to the end. It’s absolutely mind blowing. Not even Moshe merited this great privilege, and here I am, living out his dream!
In truth, the human mind cannot grasp the exalted holiness of Eretz Yisrael. The Land of Israel is on such a lofty spiritual plane that our limited intellects cannot even begin to comprehend its uniqueness. For instance, many people complain about the political situation here, believing that’s all that there is, as if Israel is a country like any other. But Eretz Yisrael is so much more than that. That’s why we are commanded to live here even if the Land is filled with idol worship. But for people whose main concern in life is physical comfort, or what they are eating at their next meal, their slavery to materialism allows them no inkling of the spiritual treasures of the Holy Land.
There are many reasons why Jews in the Diaspora find it difficult, if not impossible, to fathom to uniqueness and towering holiness of Eretz Yisrael, and the obligation to live here.
For instance, if someone doesn’t keep kosher, he not only pollutes his body, he pollutes his mind as well. The vapors of the cheeseburgers and lobsters he eats rise from his stomach to his brain, where they become like clouds of pollution, smogging his mind, and clogging his spiritual channels. The Torah warns us not to make ourselves impure by eating traf foods, and the Talmud explains the words of the verse “al titamu bahem v’nitmatem bam,” that their consumption causes not only physical impurity, but also spiritual numbness, clogging the heart and mind, and blocking all wisdom (Yoma 39A, and Rashi there.) Therefore a cheeseburger eater will not be able to appreciate the holiness of Eretz Yisrael.
Similarly, someone who pollutes his eyes by looking at immodest websites on the Internet also pollutes his mind and severs himself from spirituality. This is the reason we established the jewishsexuality.com website, to help guide people out of the chains of Internet pornography and its addictions. Certainly, a person who pollutes his soul in this fashion will not be able to experience the special spiriual delights of Eretz Yisrael.
For people who are careful to eat kosher food only, keep away from forbidden websites, and dutifully follow the laws of the Torah, Rabbi Kook has a profound insight in explaining how they too can be estranged from recognizing, understanding, and cherishing the special treasures of Eretz Yisrael. He writes:
“By being alienated from the secrets of Torah, the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael is understood in a foggy, unfocused fashion (Orot, 1:2).
Someone who doesn’t learn the deeper levels of Torah and thinks that Judaism is merely the performance of personal commandments like eating kosher, putting on tefillin, and keeping Shabbat, he or she will not feel a need for a holy Jewish homeland where the Torah can be kept in its true national fashion, by a holy NATION in a holy LAND. In his focus on the individual commandments and rituals, he won’t even notice that the entire goal of Judaism is missing from his life - the Redemption of the nation through the ingathering of the exiles to Eretz Yisrael, and the establishment of the Kingdom of G-d in the world through the life of the Nation of Israel in Israel, even though we request this, again and again, in all of our prayers.
As Rabbi Kook writes:
“For to someone who only comprehends the superficial level, nothing will be lacking in the absence of the Land of Israel, the Jewish Kingdom, and all the facets of the nation in its built form. For him, the foundation of the yearning for Redemption from the exile is like a side branch that cannot be united with the deep understanding of Judaism, and this itself testifies to the poverty of this juiceless perspective (idid.)
Instead of the big picture, panoramic, wide screen, Dolby stereo Judaism of the Torah, he is contented with his private pocket iPod.
In the next blog, we will, G-d willing, continue this topic with some more insights from the writings of Rabbi Kook.
This year, give the turkey to the dogs. Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is a gentile holiday. The Pilgrims started it, and the gentiles in America made it their traditional celebration over religious freedom.
In “The Laws of Idolatry and the Statutes of the Heathens” (chapter 11:1), the Rambam writes: “We should not follow the customs of the gentiles… as it says, ‘And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I cast out before you’ (Vayikra, 20:23) and, ‘neither shall you walk in their statutes’ (there, 18:3). Furthermore, the Torah warns, ‘Take heed to yourself that you not be ensnared to follow after them’ (Devarim, 12:30). These verses all refer to one theme and warn against imitating them, as it says, ‘I have set you apart from the peoples’” (Vayikra, 20:26).
While some rabbis in America ruled that Thanksgiving was a secular holiday and permitted Jews to stuff themselves with stuffing, the eminent Rabbi Yitzhak Hutner ruled otherwise.
Rabbi Hutner argues that the establishment of an annual holiday that is based on the Christian calendar is, at the very least, closely associated with idol worship and thus prohibited. Such a celebration becomes a "holiday" through the creation of an annual observance and celebrating Gentile holidays is obviously wrong. Rabbi Hutner concludes: "In truth, one must distance oneself from these types of customs and even from those events that are similar to these types of customs . . . The truth is simple and obvious."
How many Bernies fell in love with Brigettes after being invited to their Thanksgiving feasts, and dizzy with their poisonous wine, ended up in bed with the forbidden shicksa while the Packers-Lions football game blasts away on the TV downstairs in the playroom?
Jews don’t need Thanksgiving. Every day, we start out the morning by thanking G-d (modeh ani) for granting us another day on this planet. After every meal we eat, we thank G-d for the food and for giving us Eretz Yisrael. After every pretzel, Coke, Hershey Bar, and glass of water, we thank G-d for creating all the things that we need. After going to the bathroom, we thank G-d for keeping our bodies in proper working order. On the Shabbat, we chant the prayer of thanksgiving “Nishmat Kol Chai,” thanking G-d for everything in the universe. A Jew’s whole life is one endless thanksgiving. So who needs to make a big deal about the last Thursday in November? If you want to waste your time watching the Macy’s Day Parade and a football game, be my guest, but throw away the turkey. Eat gefilta fish instead.