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      Hollywood to the Holy Land
      by Tzvi Fishman
      Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Jewish Creativity and Culture

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      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.


      Shevat 14, 5770, 1/29/2010

      End of the Exile

      The joyous holiday of Tu B’Shvat celebrates our great gratitude to G-d over the trees and fruits of Eretz Yisrael. Why the trees of the Land of Israel and not the trees of America or Canada? In the same way that it wouldn’t make sense for a Chinaman to have a holiday over the rice of India, the Jewish People thank G-d for the fruits indigenous to the Land of Israel, and not for the fruits found in foreign places.

      Why? Because a Jew is supposed to live here, in the Land that G-d gave us, and not live in the lands of the gentiles.    

      Isn’t this perfectly obvious?

      The reason that Jews have been living outside of the Land of Israel, in exile, for nearly two-thousand years is because the gentiles attacked our country, slaughtered millions of Jews, and banished the survivors to the four corners of the earth. The exile is a punishment, not something to cling to and enjoy.

      And now that G-d in His infinite kindness has brought us back to our homeland, gathering His scattered children and rebuilding, in miraculous fashion, a reborn Jewish State, it is time for us to come home.

      Isn’t this perfectly obvious?

      Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook lived in a tiny apartment in the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem. On one of the walls were pictures of his father, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook, and an old photograph of his grandfather, the renowned Torah scholar, the “Aderet.” There was also a photograph of another bearded Jew – Herzl, looking perfectly in place with the rabbis on the wall. Alongside the photographs was a drawing of a sunrise over a mountain, with the caption: “So too unfolds the Redemption of Israel – in the beginning, little by little.”

      The quote is from the Jerusalem Talmud: “Rabbi Hiyah Rabbah and Rabbi Shimon Ben Halafta were walking in the Arbel Valley at the break of morning before the light of day. They watched the dawn as the light began to shine. Rabbi Hiyah, the great one in wisdom, said to Rabbi Halafta, ‘Rabbi, so too unfolds the Redemption of Israel – in the beginning, little by little. And the more it progresses, it increases and grows (Berachot, 1:1).

      Both Rabbi Kook and his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda, taught that the thrust of the Torah, of the Prophets, of our holidays and prayers, all point toward the Redemption of Israel with our return to Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael.

      Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda emphasized again and again at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, and in the classes he gave in his home, that the Redemption was taking place in our time with the ingathering of the exiles, with the restoration of Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael, and with the widespread return to Torah.

      He was always baffled by the phenomena that Jews continued to live in the exile, as if Israel were a foreign country, and the foreign country where they were living was home!

      “What is galut?” he asked. “An aberration. In our normal, healthy state, we need to be here, the entire Nation of Israel, in the Land of Israel. And all of the Land of Israel needs to be in our hands! Thank G-d, Hashem’s light is shining on us now, and increasing in strength, little by little, in gradual stages, as our Sages have told us, in stages and not all at once.”

      While there are lovers of New York who say that they will come to Israel when the Mashiach comes, as if that marks the end of the exile, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda once again pointed to the Gemara for the definitive sign.

      “The Sages, may their memory be for a blessing, gave us a clear definition of the end of galut. They cite the verse from the Book of Yehezkiel, ‘You O mountains of Israel shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they will soon be coming.’ Rashi comments that there can be no surer sign of the end of the exile than this, when the trees of the Land of Israel give forth their fruits in abundance” (Sanhedrin 98A).

      When the tree give their fruits in abundance
      No surer sign of the exile's end
      A Land of Pomegranates
      I never saw an olive tree in Brooklyn
      Who ever heard about Tu B'Shvat in America?

      “We need to open our eyes,” Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda said. “We have to see, eye to eye, with our vision in line with the Divine perspective, in order to see what Hashem is doing, as it says, ‘For they shall see eye to eye, the L-rd returning to Zion.’ Today we are moving forward with the resettlement of the Land, overcoming obstacles and errors along the way, progressing and coming closer to ‘a new light on Zion.’ The desecration of G-d’s Name caused by the presence of Jews in the exile, and its terrible disgrace, will disappear, and, more and more, we will merit to sanctify the Name of the L-rd in our midst.”

      During the Tu B’Shvat seder, when we enjoy the fruits of Eretz Yisrael, we first begin by eating the fruits that are closest to the word “eretz” in the Torah verse, “A land of wheat, barley, and grapes, and figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and date honey.”

      So too, Rabbi Kook taught, “Whoever has a greater love for the Land of Israel, and whoever exerts himself more ardently in the settlement of the Holy Land, he is blessed first, and he is closer to perfection.”      

      Happy Tu B’Shvat!


      Shevat 12, 5770, 1/27/2010

      The Sneakers Heard Round the World

      I know I said I was going on vacation, but I was shocked to hear that a man named Pincus Cohen rose up in the congregation and hurled a pair of good sneakers at Israel's Supreme Court chief judge.

      The sneakers heard round the world

      Here are a few of the talkbacks taken from the INN article about the shameful incident:

      The Lions should hire him or perhaps the Tigers-seems like he has a pretty good arm, with accuracy! 

      Everybody knows this man!
      This is the man who's house was destroyed by her court order. This is the man who sees that Jewish homes are being demolished while illegal arab homes are still standing. This is the man who witnesses that jews can't pray on the Temple Mount and the supreme judge says nothing about it, but when a mosque in the tooges of the world is being burned, she (the system) calls in the troops and have a Rabbi arrested. This man is me and you and every Jew who fears the present situation of Israel and its citizens.
      Idea for Arutz Sheva fund raising. Get the shoes and then auction them off.
      I applaud the shoe thower. beinish and her pack are despicable anti-Jews. They played a key role in the evil expulsion of Jews and the destruction of Jewish communities, they continue to favor arabs over Jews such as in the case of Shalom House and the recent open to arabs free travel on road 443, etc.
      Where can we send contributions to support the shoe thrower's defense fund?
      The applause in the courtroom was not to the evil witch, but to the shoe thrower.
      Pincus Cohen. What a coincidence!
      In my opinion, comments like these are just as bad as throwing away a pair of good sneakers.

      Shevat 11, 5770, 1/26/2010

      Top Top Secret

      The two new articles on @@@@@@@@@@@@ posted on jewishsexuality.com are too top secret to be posted here. I realize that the mature and G-d fearing readers of this blog don't have this problem, but perhaps the information and suggested advice may prove helpful in counseling teenage children.

      Someone, besides the Jewish Dept of the Shabak, is always watching!


      Shevat 7, 5770, 1/22/2010

      Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

      In this week's Torah portion, Egypt is smitten with a plague of darkness. Rashi relates that the darkness was so thick, the Egyptians couldn't move. They were frozen in the darkness.


      Rashi asks why Hashem brought the darkness upon the land of Egypt? He answers: "Because there were amongst the people of Israel in that generation evildoers, and they did not want to go out of Egypt, and they died in the three days of darkness, in order that the Egyptians should not see their shameful downfall and say, 'They too are smitten as we are.'"

      Elsewhere, Rashi informs us that four/fifths of the Jews refused to leave the exile in Egypt and perished in the three days of darkness. 

      Some things don't seem to change.


      May the Almighty open the eyes of our brothers and sisters still frozen in the darkness of exile and enable them to see the light.

      "I can see! I can see!"

      Shabbat Shalom


      Shevat 5, 5770, 1/20/2010

      Fishman Throws in the Umbrella

      Over the course of writing this blog, I have been accused of distorting the Torah, of turning people off from Judaism, of being a women hater, of ridiculing Diaspora Jews, of inventing a commandment to come on aliyah, and of being a closet pervert.

      Now a talkbacker infers that I am a liar as well. Here’s his talkback, along with the photo I posted and the movie original. You decide for yourselves.

      “If it was raining so much, Fishman, why wasn't your umbrella open? You look more like Marry Poppins than Gene Kelly. Get a life.”

      Singing in the rain!
      Before I became a baal tshuva

      Frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn. Starting next week, I will be joining Mike on an extended vacation.