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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.


      Kislev 27, 5770, 12/14/2009

      Har Bracha is the Yeshiva For Me!

      Everyone get a bumper sticker – “I learn in Har Bracha.”

      Everyone hang up a poster – “Rabbi Melamed for Minister of Defense!”

      A year after making aliyah, I moved to the settlement of Beit-El, where I began to learn in a new Torah-learning program headed by Rav Eliezer Melamed. During the two years I learned under Rav Eliezer’s guidance, in addition to a very strong teacher/student bond, we developed a close friendship. While seeped through and through with Torah, he had a keen appreciation of writers and the creative process, and encouraged me to keep writing along with my Torah studies. Never having departed from the Land of Israel, he always enjoyed hearing my stories about life in the Diaspora.  I am always invited to the weddings of his children, and the like, and he wrote the introduction to my recent book on creative writing. When he moved to the then tiny settlement of Har Bracha, at the urging of my dear friend, Yonaton Behar, and started the Hesder Yeshiva, I became a modest annual donor. I have spent many inspiring times at the yeshiva, in his sukkah, and at his house for Shabbat meals.     

      In addition to his vast Torah scholarship and creativity, and being an outstanding educator par-excellence, he is a paragon of honesty.

      Thus, it is not surprising that Hashem has raised him out of the ranks to hold the banner of the Maccabees aloft when the scourge of Hellenism is once again seeking to divorce the Nation of Israel from the Torah.

      We have come home to the Land of Israel to rebuild our homes, in fulfillment of the Torah’s commandment to settle the Land. It is the job of the Israeli army to guard those homes, not kick the Jews out of them. Rav Melamed has made this point clear, and for that, the Jewish Hellenists want to silence him.

      Rav Melamed also pointed out another simple truth that everyone knows  - that the Hellenists who run the army all too often put career considerations over the best interests of their soldiers, and for this, the Jewish Hellenists want him silenced.

      Hanukah celebrates the victory of the Torah over secular Hellenism. Hanukah celebrates the victory of holiness over corruption. Hanukah celebrates the victory of the few, like Rav Melamed and the Maccabees, over the many.

      By stating the truth, Rav Eliezer Melamed has lit the world’s most gigantic menorah on the mountain of blessing – Har Bracha.  

      Like Mattitiahu, he has called out, “All who would uphold the Torah and the Covenant – follow me!”

      We pray that all the other rabbis will join him.

      Kislev 23, 5770, 12/10/2009

      Fishman Peace Prize Winner - Obama

      This years esteemed Fishman Peace Prize for outstanding contributions to world peace is being awarded to Obama.


      No one had done more for for the cause of world peace. The prize can be picked up worldwide at any American Embassy, Rewards Dept.  

      Kislev 23, 5770, 12/10/2009

      Fishman Peace Prize Winner - Obama

      This year, the esteemed Fishman Peace Prize for outstanding contributions to world peace is being awarded to Obama.


      Kislev 15, 5770, 12/2/2009

      Temporarily Out of Service

      Due to a different writing project, this blog is temporarily out of service.

      Cheshvan 30, 5770, 11/17/2009

      True Confession

      Readers who don't like blogs dealing with sexual transgression can skip this letter sent to our jewishsexuality.com website. Others who realize the scope and seriousness of the problem, will find certainly appreciate its candor and insights:

      Dear Site Adminstrator:  

      I thought I would share some of my own thoughts and experiences with
      this forum. I think it might be valuable to some of you. My intended
      audience are people who are basically believing Jews - who know that G-d
      rewards and punishes and all of that, yet who cannot always overcome
      their temptations.

      I'm imagining that many of you are basically ordinary people, say who
      are young and single. Your urges are pretty strong at this stage of life
      -- we all went through that once upon a time -- and they often get the
      better of you. Yet eventually you would like to outgrow this stage,
      settle down and get married. You'd certainly rather enjoy a kosher and
      healthy married life -- with a real-life partner -- rather than the
      lewdness and emptiness of closeted pornography.

      Now, for most of us, thinking about the rages of Hell -- although we all
      believe in it with full hearts -- really does not help us all that much.
      It's far too remote and distant, and the Internet delivers addictive
      gratification much sooner. Although we all know we'll pay up one day in
      full currency, it's too hard to really conjure up such thoughts and
      modify our behavior on account of it.

      I would therefore like to suggest a different and more immediate
      scenario -- because it's exactly what happened to me.

      Rather than imagining after 120 years, imagine say 5-10 years down the
      line. You hope to be married to a beautiful woman and enjoy a loving,
      romantic, and completely kosher relationship with your life partner.
      Nothing wrong with that; it's 100% permitted. Every young man wishes for
      such. Now I could go on that the relationship will not really be as
      special as it should if you have much-more-enticing pornographic images
      floating around in your head, but that kind of stuff is too intangible
      to bother us much either. Yes, it won't really be the same -- and you
      may even still be lured to peeping at more attractive bodies on the
      side. (Your wife will *not* appreciate it if you spend a lot of time
      ogling at her like a physical object.) And also -- as I'm sure you've also heard -- the
      chances of building a strong and lasting relationship with a single
      spouse is that much less likely since you'll long for cheaper, dirtier
      thrills. But let's suppose you'll manage to outgrow your immaturity and
      build a lasting and meaningful relationship with a woman you love. Will
      your troubles be behind you?

      One possible answer -- and it's one that happened to me -- is no. There
      is another issue, entirely in the good L-rd's control: children. Whether
      or not we merit having children -- and the health and quality of them --
      is entirely in G-d's hands. Imagine that six months, twelve months,
      eighteen months go by, and your wife does not become pregnant. Topping
      it off, all of her friends are. You start going to doctors -- that in
      itself a mortifying experience. And they don't find anything concrete or
      easy to fix the matter (which is quite often the case in the field of
      fertility). Just for some strange reason, conception is not occurring.
      You try treatment, lighter treatment, heavier treatment, invasive
      treatment --  with tortuous waits for the results, and nothing is
      working. And the doctors really do not know why or what to do about it.
      Fertility treatment is a very iffy field. So to speak, the doctors can
      only lead the horse to water, but they cannot *really* make a woman

      All the while your wife is becoming more and more and more miserable.
      She wants to have children of her own. She doesn't want to be different
      from virtually all of her friends. She wants to live the married life
      *she* was dreaming of all her years. And instead of enjoying a romantic,
      exciting sexual relationship with your wife, you'll spend your evenings
      with a crying, miserable woman, attempting yourself to console her and
      give her strength -- even though you are so unhappy yourself. And what
      should have been the warmest, most loving -- and happiest -- part of
      your life will become the most miserable.

      And the worst aspect of it is that you will know deep down that you
      yourself are the cause of your beloved's suffering -- because of that
      stupid pornography you could not resist years back. When you're older
      you'll find out that the worst form of suffering is vicarious suffering
      --  when you see your loved ones suffer -- especially when you know you
      are the cause of it. And you will not even be able to tell your wife and
      tearfully apologize to her, for how could you ever tell her of your own
      past lowliness and weakness and the damage you caused?

      And above all else you'll be wishing in your head: "Why couldn't I have
      controlled myself back then? Why did I have to ruin my own life and that
      of my beloved whom I care for so dearly? Had I only known how much pain
      and suffering my sinfulness would have caused, I would have never gone
      that way. I could have saved myself then and felt *good* about myself
      today. And today I'd be eternally reaping the benefits of my willpower
      -- in both this world and the next."

      Let me take a moment to describe my own experiences. At 44 today, I
      thankfully came of age long before the World Wide Web with all its
      ugliness existed. Yet my home was not without temptations. Although I
      was a serious, upstanding yeshiva student, I succumbed to my own
      passions occasionally. For a while I resisted, but then my resolve
      weakened. There was a period of about three years in which I didn't have
      control of myself -- where I slipped and constantly regretted it, hating
      myself all the while. They were tough battles. I didn't go down without
      a fight. And thank G-d, I won many of them too.

      And then my married life thank G-d came along. After not too long we
      merited two children --  well below the norm for the Orthodox
      neighborhood(s) in which we lived, and far fewer than my wife, herself
      one of seven, wanted. But more children did not come. Years and years
      went by. And we endured such misery and crying night after night, that
      none of you would ever want to experience what we did during those
      years. (And we received much less sympathy than we would have wanted as
      many couldn't understand what was so terrible about having two children.
      We're not *childless*!) And we went through treatment after treatment to
      no avail. Finally, after over seven years -- double my own weak period
      -- we were blessed with another daughter. And -- corresponding to the
      time I regained control -- we have since merited several more children
      -- one without treatment at all.

      That's about my story. In the end we survived it all, and apart from a
      curious gap in our children's ages, I'd like to feel we merited to live
      happily ever after. But the pattern between my weak periods and our
      childlessness are unmistakable. The Midrash, quoting an earlier ethical
      work, states: "If you forsake Me one day, I will forsake you for two."
      G-d paid me double for my slips. And I thank G-d every moment for the
      times that I did regain control.

      One quick related postscript. Many Jewish sources, both Kabbalistic and
      non-Kabbalistic (see for example Maimonides, Laws of De'os 5:4-5), write
      that the quality of your children will depend on the modesty and
      selflessness you exhibit during sexual relations. Your fantasies may
      make you think in terms of very loose and dirty married behavior -- the
      sort most wives would hardly appreciate, being treated like a filthy sex
      object rather than an equal partner. But the more you're in it for your
      own pleasure, the smaller, weaker, less healthy, and certainly less
      spiritually-inclined your children will be. Marriage can and should be
      beautiful, but as the innocent and heartfelt coming together of two
      loving spouses. If, however, sex with your wife will be an act of
      selfish taking -- the sort of stuff you're living for today, you can
      expect --  even if you do merit children -- to be granted the sort of
      children you deserve.

      Anyway, I hope this was helpful to a few of you.