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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.
Like I mentioned, I recently made a foray into the world of Facebook, hoping that I could make friends and influence people. After two months in the network, I’ve come to some conclusions. First, in striking contrast to the prevalent belief that Jews in the Diaspora have lots of money, I was shocked to discover that many Jewish women don’t have the money to buy even basic clothing. Based on their wall photos, it seems that many of them can only afford sleeveless tank tops and bikinis. So I have decided to create a fund called DIME, the “Daughter of Israel Modesty Enterprise,” asking every Jew in the world to contribute a dime so that decent clothing can be provided for our poor Facebook sisters throughout the Diaspora.
In a previous article, I addressed the problem of pornography on Facebook, so I will not enumerate the dangers here, other than to once again warn parents that Facebook is not the innocent, parve world they may think it is, but that it is loaded with temptations and actual porn which can drag young people, and adults alike, into a web of soul-polluting addictions from which it is very difficult to escape.
The best news is that I have taken the initiative to write a letter to the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization, with the proposal that they organize special “Facebook Flights” especially geared for the Facebook crowd, whereby jumbo jets, proudly bearing the word FACEBOOK, would bring the thousands of Israel lovers on Facebook home to the Holy Land.
After all, Facebook is used in the Arab world to topple evil regimes, and it was used effectively during the recent social protest in Israel to bring masses out to the street – why not use it to promote mass aliyah?
Upon my entry into Facebook, how happy I was to discover how many lovers of Israel there are! Their walls are filled with Stars of David and beautiful pictures of Israel. Israel appears again and again in the list of their hobbies and interests. Their photo pages abound with the most beautiful pictures, paintings, and illustrations of Israel I’ve ever seen! Not to mention a great love for Judaism and Torah! It’s a natural to organize for them Nefesh B’Nefesh jumbo jets to take them home to Israel! I’m sure there will be a huge demand. They love Israel so much. That way, instead of spending hours every day, sending Youtube and INN links back and forth to each other about what’s happening here in Israel, they can come here themselves and become an active part of the news, rather than just reading about it.
I’m convinced it’s a winning idea. After all, it’s an offer you can’t refuse. For nearly 2000 years, we have been fervently praying to escape the humiliation of exile in foreign gentile lands and come home to Israel. Once upon a time, immigrants had to literally risk their lives to make the journey, arriving in a barren land without any housing or livelihood awaiting them, trusting in G-d to provide for their needs and protect them against the marauders that infested the country. While today, with Nefesh B’Nefesh, and other assistance groups, the plane ticket is free, there are monetary grants, housing all over the country, jobs for people who want to work, a stable economy, Hebrew ulpans, and all kinds of guidance and social services to help the new oleh. Like I said, it’s an offer you can’t refuse. In fact, I’m sure that so many of my Facebook friends will be coming home in response to this program that Israel will have to begin a rush campaign to build thousands of new apartments and villas to handle the avalanche of aliyah that the Facebook Aliyah Revolution is going to create.
You too can help spread the flames of this great new wave of aliyah to Israel. Write your Facebook friends. Share this blog on your walls. Get the word out to the Jews all over the world. Brothers and sisters on Facebook:
IT’S TIME TO COME HOME!
IT’S TIME TO COME HOME!
IT’S TIME TO COME HOME!
Chodesh tov! It’s a cool, beautiful morning in Yerushalayim, blue sky, white clouds, like the colors of the flag of Israel. Walking out of the mikvah, I took a deep holy breath of fresh air and paused to enjoy the incomparable beauty of Jerusalem. How our great great great grandparents, in their ghettos of Europe and Russia and Yemen and America, would have rejoiced to be here! For nearly 2000 years, our holy grandfathers and grandmothers prayed and prayed and prayed that the day would soon come when they could return to Jerusalem. And then, in our time, the miracle happened, the dream came true. From the ashes of the Holocaust, the dry bones of the Jewish people rose up from the cemetery of the exile and marched back to the Land of Israel, to be a free sovereign people in our own Jewish Land. With unparalleled bravery, sacrifice, and love for the Land of Israel, the fearless pioneers drained the disease-filled swamps, vanquished the robbers who laid claim to Israel’s eternal heritage, and rebuilt the desolate valleys and hilltops until, with G-d’s blessing, Israel became the talk and wonder of all the world.
Then something terrible happened. Though the gates to our homeland were opened, through the incredible kindness of G-d, and the sacrifice of waves of holy pioneers - apartments, and cities, and highways were built, with farms, and orchids, and industrial plants, and high-tech parks as advanced as any place on earth, with synagogues and yeshivot on every corner - after all of this miraculous revival, the great great grandchildren of the same holy grandfathers and grandmothers, who prayed and prayed and prayed for this very same golden opportunity, these same “enlightened” and “emancipated” grandchildren didn’t get on the plane. Instead, they preferred to remain in the same foreign gentile lands that their holy grandparents had so longed to flee.
How could it be? What happened?
True, last year, some 2,000 Jews made aliyah from America. 2,000 out of six million. It comes out to .0003 percent. What happened? What went wrong?
Yes, you can say that America is far away – on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. But what about the Jews of England, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium? They’re only three hours away. You can almost swim here! Still, outside of handfuls, they’re still eating croissantes and spaghetti in the bistros of Paris and Milan.
And yet Orthodox Jews pray three times a day, “Return us to Zion!”
Friends! What are you waiting for? Hashem has provided you with a Jewish airline to fly here. You could be here within hours! Why don’t you come?
This morning, leaving the mikvah on a hillside in Har Nof, as I paused to thank G-d for the great beauty of Yerushalayim, I gazed around at the Shechinah – the children going to school, speaking Hebrew, the old people waiting for buses, the stores, the gardens, the factories, the Jerusalem Forest, the monument of Yad Vashem and the Hadassah Hospital across the way, and the busy highway bringing workers to the Holy City from Tel Aviv. Yes, my good friends, this is the Shechinah, the down-to- earth presence of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. This is what we pray for every day in our Amidah prayers: “May our eyes behold Thy return in mercy to Zion. Blessed art Thou, O L-rd, who restores Thy Divine presence to Zion.”
The Shechinah is returning to Zion more and more each day. With every Jew who arrives, with every new house that is built, with every new settlement, and factory, and acre of farmland, the Divine Presence is returning to Zion. We only need to open our eyes and see it!
Do you want to be a part of this incredible Redemption – or to let it pass by while you sink deeper and deeper into the impurity of foreign lands, missing the boat of Jewish History completely, mouthing the out the prayers that your great grandparents would have given their lives to fulfill, when you could be here making history yourselves?
What do you chose? To live out your lives, drowning in the Jacuzzis of gentile cultures in gentile lands, or taking an active part in Jewish History and the Redemption of our People by fulfilling the dream of your grandparents and the call of the Prophets of Israel?
“And I will sanctify My great Name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have desecrated in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am the L-rd, says the L-rd G-d, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.”
How? How does Hashem erase the terrible desecration of His Name and Chillul Hashem of the exile, where the gentiles see the Jews as weak minorities in foreign lands, instead of their being a strong independent Jewish Nation in the Land that G-d gave them, as if G-d is too weak to bring them there, or doesn’t exist all together?
The Prophet gives us G-d’s answer:
“FOR I WILL TAKE YOU FROM AMONGST THE NATIONS, AND GATHER YOU OUT OF ALL COUNTRIES, AND WILL BRING YOU INTO YOUR OWN LAND… AND YOU SHALL DWELL IN THE LAND THAT I GAVE TO YOUR FATHERS; AND YOU SHALL BE MY PEOPLE, AND I WILL BE YOUR G-D” (Ezekiel, 36:16-32).
That, my friends, is happening now, in our days, with the return of the Jewish People to Israel. The greatest Kiddush Hashem in the world. It has been happening for the last hundred years. Open your eyes! Take a look! What are you waiting for? Turn off your laptops! Stop observing from the bleachers! Become a part of Jewish History now!
Today, for the very first time in Jewish Internet history, an entire, unabridged Jewish novel has been serialized free of charge to millions of INN readers all over the world! This inspiring literary hallmark represents a new breakthrough in Jewish education.
Rabbi Kook explains in his introduction to Shir HaShirim the importance of literature to the development of the reborn Israeli nation. “Literature stands waiting to express all of the spiritual concepts which are hidden in the depth of the humanity’s psyche. As long as one thread of man’s inner being is still hidden and lacking expression, it is the duty of art to reveal it” (Olat HaRiyah, Part 2, Pg. 3).
Literature’s task is to explore the depths of the human psyche and provide the vehicle to bring man’s inner spiritual being to expression.
For Israel to return to its true Torah culture, all writers, not only writers from Hollywood, must become masters of penitence (baale t’shuva). As Rabbi Kook writes:
“Out of the worldly, too, will emerge the holy, and out of the brazen liberalism will also emerge the beloved yoke of the Torah. Golden chains will be woven and will arise out of the poetry of free thinkers, and a luminous penitence will also arise from the secular literature. This will be the great wonder of the vision of redemption (Orot HaT’shuva, 17:3).
“The feelings of penitence in all of their glory, including the profound upheaval of the spirit which they engender, must become manifest in literature, so that the generation of the revival will understand in the depths of its being, the importance of repentance as a living and vitalizing power, and thus the generation will return and be healed” (Orot HaT’shuva, 17:5).
So, here is the conclusion of "Heaven's Door."
On my way back down the landscaped mountainside toward the sparkling Sea of Galilee, I decided to stop in Tiberias and pay my respects once again to Maimonides. The portrait on sale at the kiosk was the very same dignified sage whom I had seen up in the tribunal in Heaven. Hoping that the painting would remind me of all his teachings, I purchased one to take home. I said a few prayers at his tomb, thanking him for his life-saving intervention. Then I started the two-hour drive back to Jerusalem, replaying the tapes and reviewing what I had learned.
In a nutshell, following the principles of Maimonides meant sticking to a proper diet, preserving sexual energy, loving other people (but not their wives), believing in God, avoiding negative character traits like arrogance and anger, and keeping to the “golden path.”
This time, I didn’t stop to pick up any hitchhikers, feeling that I had experienced enough new encounters on my trip.
When I arrived at the hotel, I checked in at the front desk and decided to have a drink before going up to my room. My nerves felt shot, and I was somewhat frightened about the journey that lay ahead. I didn’t know if I would tell people everything that had happened, but I knew that changes were certainly in order, and I was psyched-up to make them. Tangled in my thoughts, I sat at an empty table and ordered a gin and tonic. Before the waiter could bring it, I noticed a woman sitting alone at the back of the room. She stared over at me rather boldly, stood up, and walked over to where I was sitting.
“Do you mind if I join you?” she asked with an embarrassed smile. “I thought I’d have a grand time on this trip, but I’ve discovered that visiting a strange country is no fun at all when you’re alone.”
I may not have been 4000 years old, but I wasn’t born yesterday, and I knew when a woman was making a pass. She was dressed nicely, wasn’t unattractive, and from her accent, I guessed she was probably from somewhere like Finland or Norway.
“Why not?” I said, being polite and motioning her to sit down.
When the waiter arrived with my drink, she ordered a glass of white wine. Smiling, I raised my glass in a friendly toast, but my hand suddenly started to shake with an uncontrollable tremor. As if bitten by a snake, my hand shot violently into the air and the ice cubes went flying. The whiskey splashed in her lap. With a small cry of surprise, she stood up to wipe off the stain.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled, startled by what had occurred. “I’m sorry about your dress.”
When I set down my drink on the table, the voice of Saba Yosef sounded in my ears.
“Don’t worry about her dress,” he told me. “Worry about your soul. And mine.”
Then, as suddenly as his voice had materialized, it vanished.
“That’s OK,” the woman said. “I brought a suitcase of dresses on this vacation, though I really don’t know why. Jerusalem doesn’t seem to have much of a night life, if you know what I mean.”
When I didn’t respond, she said, “Are you all right? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I’m not feeling so well,” I told her. “I think I had better call it an early evening.”
After signing my name on the check, I took the elevator up to my room. I had two phone messages waiting. They were both from my wife. I was thrilled to hear her familiar voice on the recording.
She was fine, she said, and wanted to know how I was doing. Was I safe? Had I found the old man?
How fortunate I was to have such a good woman with whom I could share my life. A feeling of sweetness rose up inside me, a renewed yearning to reunite with the bride of my youth and begin our marriage anew.
She had left second message on the following day. “You won’t believe this,” she said, “but our long lost daughter called. She’s out of money and wants us to wire her cash. What should I do?”
Goose pimples broke out over my body. Saba Yosef’s email had gone through.
“Don’t send your daughter money,” the seer had advised me. “Tell her that you’ll give her some when she comes home. Then, when she feels your love for her, with God’s help, there will be a change for the better.”
It was going to be a wonderful reunion, I thought, being with my two favorite women, my wife and my daughter.
All I had to do was to stay on the golden path - and keep a steadfast lookout for you know who.
Turkey King Threatens Lawsuit against INN Blogger, Tzvi Fishman
The Empire Emporium Foods company is threatening to bring a lawsuit against INN bloggist, Tzvi Fishman, unless he immediately retracts his blog entry “Should a Jew Celebrate Thanksgiving?” which appeared yesterday, November 23, 2011 on the Arutz 7 English website. The Empire Emporium press release asserts that, “Fishman clearly severely questioned the kashrut (Kosher validness) of our turkeys, which is a clear violation of the United States laws of free enterprise and commerce. Our turkeys are slaughtered with the upmost kosher strictness. This slanderous blog could cost Empire Emporium millions of dollars if Jews stop celebrating Thanksgiving and stop buying our quality kosher turkeys.”
Responding from his home in Jerusalem, Fishman claimed that he didn’t write about turkeys at all. “Look at the article,” he said. “I was just thanking G-d for having taken me out of America and bringing me to live in the Land of the Jews. If I mentioned the word turkey, it was only as a metaphor that America is always pressuring the government of Israel to slice up the Land of Israel like a turkey.”
Empire Emporium disagrees, claiming that there were clear innuendos in the essay, besmirching the kashrut of their turkeys.
Later in the day, in response to the controversial blog that swept over the web like a raging California inferno, the “America Liberal Council of Reform Temples” issued a press release declaring that “America is indeed that land of the Jews.” The group’s director, Rabbi Carmella Pancho Rodriguez, said that the group was submitting a bill for legislation in Washington that would make Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July, official Jewish holidays. “We want everyone to know that we are Americans first, and remnants of the Mosaic tradition second. In fact, Thanksgiving has its roots in the Bible. The Hebrew word, “Hodo,” means turkey and also thanks. That’s the source of the tradition to eat turkey on Thanksgiving. And don’t forget that Jesus was a Jew. The first day of January commemorates his circumcision. And the Last Supper was his Passover meal. So it’s fitting that we observe these holidays along with our Christian friends.”
Apparently, in a rush move to take advantage of all the media attention caused by the controversial blog, before the day was out, the company, “Hallmark Holiday Treasures,” announced that they would be selling a new Hanukah menorah this winter, eight small plastic statues of Christ on the cross, and red Hanukah candles that you stick in the crown of thorns on his head. When the candles melt, the statue becomes covered with red wax that looks just like blood. The company, which is mass producing the new line of menorahs calls it “a symbol of solidarity and Christian-Judaic brotherhood at this special time of the year.”
Not to be ignored in the controversy, the “American National United Jewish Leadership Association of Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Homosexual, Lesbian, and Progressive Congregations” telegrammed the White House, asking to be invited to the annual First Family Dinner as a symbol of loyalty to the United States. In a bid to win back alienated Jewish voters, President Obama immediately welcomed the group’s leaders to join him at the White House, after advising them that instead of the traditional turkey meal, the President and his family would be eating turkey droppings, as a symbol of America’s tightening of the belt during the current economic crisis. While the non-Orthodox members of the delegation stated that they had no problem eating the droppings from the President’s table, Orthodox Rabbi Reuven Roboskansky said that the kashrut of the droppings was being investigated, and, to be on the safe said, he would bring his own jar of gelfita fish, so that he would not have to violate any Jewish dietary laws.
"Hold it still, Rabbi, and I'll chop its head right off!"
In the meantime, Fishman refuses to take down the blog which caused all the tumult and fuss. Paraphrasing the famous words of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, he says, “Don’t ask what Israel can do for you – ask what you can do for Israel.”
Somebody asked me if I am celebrating Thanksgiving? What a silly question! For a Jew, everyday is Thanksgiving! We thank G-d when we get up in the morning. We thank Him when we get dressed. We thank Him when we leave the lavatory. We thank Him when we eat. All day long a Jew is busy thanking G-d for all of the kindnesses which He bestows upon us every minute of our lives.
What about America’s Thanksgiving Day? Do I celebrate that? Of course I do!
I give thanks to G-d that I don’t live in America anymore.
I give thanks to G-d that I don’t live in a gentile land.
I give thanks to G-d that I don’t live in a gentile culture, surrounded by gentile holidays, and gentile symbols, and gentile traditions.
I give thanks to G-d that I don’t live in a gentile country that constantly pressures Israel to slice up its Land like a turkey.
I give thanks to G-d that I don’t live in gentile country that constantly pressures Israel to cut up Jerusalem as if it were a sweet potato.
I give thanks to G-d that I don’t live in gentile country that constantly is against Jews living in the heartland of biblical Israel.
I give thanks to G-d that I don’t live in a gentile country which fosters mass assimilation.
I give thanks to G-d that my children grow up speaking Hebrew, and knowing who they are, without schizophrenic identities of being half American and half Jewish.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d that my children pledge allegiance to the Israel Defense Forces and not to the flag of a foreign land.
I give thanks To G-d that my children know that the forefathers of their Nation were Avraham Avinu and Sarah, and not George Washington.
I give thanks to G-d that my children say that Jerusalem is their capital and not Washington D.C.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d knowing that my children and grandchildren will marry Jews.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d that I live in the Land of the Bible.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d for granted me the unsurpassable privilege of performing the mitzvah to live in Israel.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d that I live ten minutes away from the Kotel.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d that I everything in the supermarket is kosher and that I don’t have to strain my eyes to find little OUs.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d that He opened my eyes and allowed me to see the tragedy of living in a foreign land celebrating the holidays of the gentiles.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d for having answered the prayers of the Jewish People for 2000 years to return us to Zion.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d that He has shattered the yoke of the goyim from our necks and allowed us to walk upright back to our Land.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d for having given us a Jewish airline with daily flights to Israel from all over the world.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d for rebuilding Jerusalem and Jewish cities and settlements all over Israel.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d for making Israel the Torah center of the world.
On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to G-d for letting me play an active part in the Redemption of our Nation, just by being here and doing what I can to help in the strengthening of the Nation in its Land.
Of course I celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Tomorrow I am going to eat the biggest falafel I can!