Middle East 5:43 AM 3/7/2014
Inside Israel 12:16 AM 3/7/2014
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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.
Tragically, more Jews are addicted to the exile than to all other addictions combined. If you add up all of the unfortunate souls addicted to alcohol, gambling, pornography, or drugs, the number is far far fewer than those unfortunate souls addicted to living in the exile. The number is in the millions.
Even worse. As nefarious as the addiction is, exile lovers don’t realize that they are addicted. Like an alcoholic or a heroine junkie, when confronted by their problem, they will adamantly deny it.
“I don’t have a drinking problem,” the alcoholic insists as he staggers out of the bar, not remembering where he parked his car.
“I don’t have a drug problem,” the junkie insists in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
“We aren’t addicted to the exile,” Talkbackers insist, denying the simple fact that they are living their lives in foreign lands amongst the gentiles.
Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook was unquestionably one of the most influential Rabbis of our generation. Because of him, all of the political leaders of the world wake up in the morning wondering what other steps they can take to force the Jews out of Judea and Samaria, G-d forbid. As the head of the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda sent his students out to settle the land and build settlements all over the Biblical hillsides of Israel, from the Golan Heights in the north to Elon Moreh, Kedumim, Yitzhar, Har Bracha, Beit El, Shilo, Ofra, Gush Etzion, Hevron, and Gush Katif in the south.
This week’s Torah portion of Mishpatim relates the tragic case of a Hebrew servant who does not want to go free after serving his master for six years. The Torah instructs that his ear should be nailed to a doorpost to remind him that the Jewish People were commanded to hear the call at Sinai to serve only one Master – G-d, and not a master of flesh and blood.
This was the case, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda taught, with Jews in the Diaspora who fall in love with their master, the goy, and don’t want to go free. They are like slaves, when the Torah commands us to be free men in our own Land.
This is a terrible, pernicious addiction.
Having done a lot of work on the subject of pornography addiction, in addition to ghostwriting a book on gambling addiction before I made aliyah to Israel, I can vouch that many of the general symptoms of addiction are similar to exile addicts as well. On our jewishsexuality.com website, in our section on Pornoholics Anonymous, we included a questionnaire put out by a sex addiction organization to help people identify if they have a problem that needs to be treated. In the same light, a simple questionnaire can help you to recognize if you are addicted to the exile. If you can answer yes to six or more of the following questions, then you are addicted to your life amongst the gentiles in the foreign gentile land where you live.
1 – Most of the day I speak a language other than Hebrew.
2 – Besides INN.com, most of the websites I look at have nothing to do with Judaism or Israel.
3 – I consider Barak Obama to be the political leader of my country (or the Prime Minister of England, or the President of France) rather than the Prime Minister of Israel.
4 – I say things like, “We’re taking a beating in Afghanistan,” or “Our troops sure taught the Iraqis a lesson.”
5 – I enjoy watching TV shows like the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, the President’s Inaugeration, the Miss America Beauty Pageant, the Emmy Awards, Sixty Minutes, the Thanksgiving Day Parade, and get all choked up with pride when they play the Star Spangled Banner.
6 – My kid’s heroes are Michael Jackson, Michael Jordon, Arnold Schwartenegger, Bruce Lee, Bruce Springsteen, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, and Batman.
7 – There is an American flag in our shul, the Rabbi doesn’t have a beard, the mechitzah is low enough to see the women, wives don't cover their hair, and the Shabbos Kiddush has enough food to feed half the people of Haiti.
8 – I send a Valentine’s Day card to my girlfriend, my wife, or my mistress.
9 – I get peeved off reading Fishman’s blogs.
10 – I will definitely consider making aliyah when Israel gets its act together.
Now add up the number of yeses you have. If you have six or more, you’re an exile addict.
I told you so.
May this bit of Torah learning be dedicated to the complete and speedy recovery of the Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, who has brought so much blessing and benefit to my family and millions of Jews all over the world.
In the week’s Torah portion, one of the things we learn from the reunion between Moshe and Yitro is the importance of gratitude and giving thanks to G-d for all of the goodness and wondrous blessings which He bestows upon us.
So I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to Hashem for all of the blessings which He has granted me, and here is a very partial list:
THANK YOU HASHEM for having granted me life.
THANK YOU HASHEM for having made me a Jew.
THANK YOU HASHEM for having created me with healthy, physical powers, like seeing and hearing and thinking and talking and being able to taste and smell and walk and perform all of the normal human functions, and for planting within me a Heavenly soul.
THANK YOU HASHEM for providing for all of my needs from the day of my birth until this very day.
THANK YOU HASHEM for leading me out of the darkness of my secular American life to realize that You and You alone are the King of the World and my Maker.
THANK YOU HASHEM for having miraculously healed me from a chronic case of ulcerative colitis.
THANK YOU HASHEM for having led me to the Torah.
THANK YOU HASHEM for making me realize that a Jew belongs in the Land of Israel and not in the lands that You have apportioned to the gentiles.
THANK YOU HASHEM for having accepted my penitence and for forgiving me each time that I fall and return to You in sincere and heartfelt t’shuva.
THANK YOU HASHEM for helping me make aliyah.
THANK YOU HASHEM for having given me parents who supported my return to Torah and my aliyah to Israel.
THANK YOU HASHEM for the privilege of bringing my parents to live in Israel with me and to honor them as best as I could.
THANK YOU HASHEM for leading me to Rabbis like Rav Daniel Dayan, Rav Yehuda Hazani, Rav David Samson, Rav Dov Begun, Rav Avraham Shapira, Rav Mordechai Eliahu, Rav Meir Kahane, Rav Moshe Kaplan, Rav Eliezar Melamed, and many others, who taught me Torah and led me to see how You are bringing about the Redemption of the Jewish People in our time.
THANK YOU HASHEM for giving me the honor to play a part in the rebuilding of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel, and in enabling me to use the talents that You gave me on behalf of the Torah, the ingathering of the exiles, the Jewish Nation, Jerusalem, and the Land of Israel.
THANK YOU HASHEM for having led me to Rav Eliahu Leon Levi to learn the importance of sexual holiness and guarding the Brit.
THANK YOU HASHEM for having given me a wonderful wife and wonderful children.
THANK YOU HASHEM for providing for my livelihood and all of my family’s needs.
THANK YOU HASHEM for giving me a home in Jerusalem.
THANK YOU HASHEM for giving me good friends who are too many to name.
THANK YOU HASHEM for every breath and every heartbeat, and every chance to serve You, and study Your Torah, and improve my ways to become a better Jew.
THANK YOU HASHEM for answering my prayers, and thank you for the prayers that You chose not to answer, for my best interest, even though I do not always understand the reasons why.
THANK YOU HASHEM for everything in my life, and for being a loving and faithful shepherd to the Jewish People from the beginning of our history until today, for forgiving us of the sins which led to our exile from Israel, and for bringing us back to our Land, in our time, amidst wondrous miracles, in fulfillment of the words of the Prophets of Israel as set down in the Torah for all the world to see.
THANK YOU HASHEM for everything. THANK YOU.
Doesn’t it seem strange that this week’s Torah portion where the Jewish People receive the Torah is named after the gentile Yitro?
Rabbi Leon Levi explains that this great honor given to Yitro is because of the great lesson we learn from him – the lesson of “Masirut Nefesh,” of self-sacrifice for a higher cause, as it says, “Vayavo Yitro” – “And Yitro, the father-in-law of Moshe, went into the wilderness.”
Yitro was the king of Midian. He was the chief idol worshipper in the world. Yet, he abandoned everything when he heard about the miracles that Hashem performed for Am Yisrael in freeing them from bondage in Egypt and splitting the sea in their behalf. He gave everything up, all of his fame, riches, honor and prestige, to journey into the wilderness in order to meet up with Moshe and learn more about serving the One and Only true G-d. He left everything behind in order to get closer to Hashem, because he understood that this is the goal of life.
Yitro’s great “Masirut Nefesh” parallels the great “Masirut Nefesh” of Am Yisrael about whom it is also said, “Yayavo Bnei Yisrael” – “And the Children of Israel went into the midst of the sea.” With the raging sea before them and the thundering chariots of Pharoah behind them, the Jews bravely went into the sea, willing to give up everything for Hashem.
This “Masirut Nefesh” is also seen in the evil nation of Amalek, of whom it is also said, “Vayavo Amalek and fought with Yisrael.” Even though they had heard how Hashem had destroyed Egypt and knew that they had no chance to defeat His chosen nation, without thinking about themselves, they attacked. “Vayavo Amalek!” It was this “Masirut Nefesh” that led them to their success in dealing a great blow to Israel.
“Masirut Nefesh” is one of the great keys to serving G-d – the willingness to put getting closer to Hashem over everything else. The willingness to abandon the fleshpots of Monsey, Toronto, Melbourne, and Vienna, Virginia to make the journey through the wilderness to the Holy Land, just like the Jews of Egypt, to get closer to Hashem and live a newer, much higher level of Judaism, a Judaism with all of one’s heart, with all of one’s soul, and with all of one’s might. The willingness to jump forward into the sea of the unknown and trust that Hashem will guide your path. The willingness to give up everything, in the spirit of self-sacrifice, in order to gain everything – the exquisite and exalted closeness to Hashem that can only be achieved in the Land of Israel.
Why continue, my dear Diaspora readers, to live virtual Jewish lives, vicariously living out your dreams by following the heroes of Eretz Yisrael over the Internet, when you could be here, yourselves, living out the real life Israeli life in the Land of Hashem?
“Vayavo! Vayavo! Vayavo!”
Remember the old TV show “Candid Camera?” Remember how embarrassed people were when they discovered that their doings had been filmed? Well, for those of you who may not be aware, “Candid Camera” is still in operation. Every time you sit down at the computer and click on a forbidden site, every time you take a double look at the secretary’s legs, every time you have some illicit thought about your neighbor’s wife, it’s all being recorded. That’s right – even your thoughts! Just as the Torah forbids gazing at forbidden images, it forbids dwelling on illicit fantasies as well.
The holy Zohar, in this week’s Torah portion of Yitro, discusses what I known as “Chochmat HaPartzuf” or the “wisdom of the face.” To summarize, a person’s characteristics can be “read” from the shape of his mouth, nose, forehead, and the like. It is known that the Arizal could look at a person’s face and tell everything about him. Rav Leon explains that every person has a compact movie screen on his forehead. Of course, you need special spiritual 3-D glasses to see it. There is a special holy Name that opens the curtains and reveals the movie of a person’s life. Rav Leon says you can see what the person did at work, and how he behaves with his wife, in short – everything.
Rav Leon relates that some thirty years ago when he first started helping people out with all sorts of problems, he used to look at the movie screen on a person’s forehead to see what was going on behind the scenes. Today, he doesn’t even have to look at a person to get a picture. Anyone who comes within his range gets picked up on his radar – even if he is thousands of miles away.
For example, once during a morning class, the public phone in the hall of the yeshiva kept ringing and ringing. Rav Leon told a student who stood up to answer the phone not to bother. He said that it was a man calling from Los Angeles and he would call back. Sure enough, after the class, the phone rang again. Before the student answered the phone, Rav Leon told him to explain to the caller that his pressing medical problem stemmed from the fact that he was cheating on his wife with a gentile mistress. “Tell him that if he promises to give up his mistress and begin to put on tefillin every morning, the illness will go away.”
Several months later, a man showed up at the yeshiva, saying that he was the caller from Los Angeles. He had followed the rabbi’s advice, and his illness had miraculously disappeared, to the great astonishment of his physicians. He had journeyed to Israel to thank Rav Leon and make a contribution to the yeshiva. As time went by, he became religious and moved with his family to the Holy Land.
So remember – “When you least expect it, you’re elected; it’s your lucky day. Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!”
One of the basic building blocks and foundations of Jewish life revolves around the subject of “Taharat HaMishpachah” or family purity. The following is an essay by the devout Torah scholar, Rabbi Yaakov Adas, from his book “Hitkaravut L’Hashem.”
SINCE we are presently in the period of “Shovavim,” it is proper to direct our attention to what our Sages have taught us, that now is the time to awaken ourselves to the crucial importance of two matters: the first of which is the gravity of spilling semen in vain and the need to rectify the damages it causes; and secondly, and the prohibition of violating the laws of Niddah.
(The laws of Niddah are known also as family purity or “Taharat HaMishpachah.” For a detailed look at the many laws of Niddah, please click to another essay and follow the links posted there).
Presently, we will focus on the transgression of the Niddah laws. It is important to know that the prohibition of having sexual relations with a woman while she is in her Niddah period (the menstrual period including the obligatory days that are added according to Jewish Law) applies to both married and single women. All women before they marry are considered Niddah (in a spiritual state of menstrual impurity). The Chofetz Chaim, in his article on the prohibition of Niddah, writes: “Everyone knows that the sin of Niddah is not merely a Torah prohibition such as eating pork, and the like, rather, it carries the severe penalty of ‘karet,’ being cut off from life before one’s allotted time, G-d forbid. The penalty applies both to the man and to the woman. Even if their meritorious deeds should multiply, affording them an extension of their days, their souls will be cut off from the ‘Bundle of Souls’ - the pool of souls in Heaven - which is an everlasting loss of the soul, and this is what the Torah verse infers by saying, ‘This soul will be exceedingly cut off from before Me.’ Even should Hashem fill up the world again with souls, there will be no room for this soul (if the person does not repent in tshuva). How terrible is the punishment! It is one thousand times worse than the punishment of death, which is only death in the temporary physical world, whereas this is eternal death. And all of this comes only after the person has received punishment in Gehinom (hell) where unfortunate ones first descend to the pit to undergo bitter sufferings over each and every time they transgressed the prohibition of Niddah.”
These are the words of the Chofetz Chaim who continues in greater length on the dangers of violating this prohibition in its negative effect on the children of those who fail to guard the laws in this matter.
The Chofetz Chaim further writes that people must know, what is familiar to all those devotees who adhere to the Torah, that the prohibition of Niddah is among the forbidden sexual relations (Aryiyot). Concerning these prohibitions, one must be willing to be killed rather than engage in the forbidden deed. So severe is this transgression that one must be ready to give up one’s life not to commit it.
The Chofetz Chaim proceeds to explain a great foundation of Torah, teaching us that when the Torah requires a person to sacrifice his life rather than to violate the prohibition of Niddah, it is not merely commanded us to give up our lives rather than sin, it is also telling us that the damage caused by having sexual relations with a woman in Niddah is so very great that it is preferable to die rather than commit the transgression.
To understand this warning of the Chofetz Chaim, we can use the metaphor of two people who were driving in a car from one city to the next when an accident occurred. One was killed and the other escaped unharmed. He continued on his way, and when he reached the other city he transgressed the prohibition of Niddah. In doing so he caused himself much much more damage and loss than the damage and loss incurred by the one who was killed in the crash.
It is also proper to mention here a matter in which people err, and that is, although the punishment of ‘keret’ applies only to those who engage in sexual relations (intercourse) during the Niddah period, nevertheless the law to give up one’s life rather than sin applies even to hugging and kissing a woman who is Niddah. Even over this one is obligated to sacrifice one’s life and not commit the action (see the essay of the Chofetz Chaim in the book, “Geder Olam,” in the concluding article). Furthermore, in the metaphor of the two passengers, if the survivor of the crash was to reach the city and even just hug or kiss a woman in Niddah, he causes more damage to his soul by hugging and kissing a Niddah than the damage caused to the one who died in the crash.
It must also be noted that a woman is not only classified as being Niddah during her menstrual cycle (including the additional days accorded to the halachah) but even though her menstruation has stopped, she remains in her Niddah state until she has properly immersed herself in a kosher mikvah. Until such time, all of the Niddah restrictions apply with all of their halachic details. A wise man will take these matters to heart in order to save himself from the paths of death, and to chose instead the way of life.
Anyone who has erred in any of these matters should make haste to turn back to Hashem in repentance over his deeds, and he shall be forgiven.
(From “Hitkaravut L’Hashem,” Pgs 342-345)