Inside Israel 3:15 AM 12/13/2013
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The Tovia Singer Show
Tamar & Tovia Dynamite
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.
A person’s evil inclination, or “Yetzer Hara,” comes in many shapes and disguises. There is a yetzer hara to engage in forbidden sexual relations. There is a yetzer hara to steal. There is a yetzer hara to stay in bed in the morning and not get up to pray. The list goes on and on.
In our last blog, we mentioned the yetzer hara to speak about life in the Land of Israel in a derogatory manner. There is another yetzer hara connected with the Land of Israel, and that is the yetzer hara to be afraid about making aliyah.
Recognizing this yetzer hara, Moshe exhorted the nation, saying, “Behold, the L-rd thy G-d has set the Land before thee; go up and possess it, as the L-rd G-d of thy fathers has said to thee; fear not nor be discouraged” (Devarim, 1:21).
Because living in the Land of Israel is such a great mitzvah, being the mitzvah on which the completeness of the Torah depends, the yeter hara works overtime to dissuade Jews from coming. While most mitzvot take a few minutes, like putting on tefillin; or a day, like Shabbat; or a week, like Passover and Sukkot, the mitzvah of living in Israel is a constant, year-round mitzvah, encompassing everything a person does in his life, by dwelling in Israel, and working in Israel, and raising his children in Israel, by serving in the army in Israel, and buying his groceries in Israel, it is all one gigantic mitzvah. And it is through the mitzvah of the Nation of Israel living in Israel that the Kingdom of G-d is to be established in the world – so of course, the yeter hara does everything in his power to discourage Jews from coming.
That’s why when a Jew contemplates making aliyah, the yetzer hara attacks him with all kinds of doubts and fears.
Most of the reasons that people give for not coming on aliyah, whether it be that it’s hard to make a living, or that life there is dangerous, or the Israelis are rude, or secular Jews run the country, or I don’t want my children to serve in the army, are the work of the yetzer hara.
While some of these fears have a basis in reality, the yeter hara exaggerates them until they seem colossal in proportion, like the giants that the Spies saw in the Land. The truth is that with a little patience, and trust in G-d, everything works out just fine. By coming on aliyah, the Jew “goes up,” he becomes bigger in his or her service of G-d.
A recent talkback written by a woman who came on aliyah to Israel, that was sent in to Tamar Yonah’s blog, demonstrates this better than I can. So I am copying it here for the inspiration it can give all of us:
“I'm not out to judge other people, I only want to tell how it was for me: I made Aliyah with the equivalent of about 20.000 USD. That was all the money I had, a year and 3 months ago. I couldn't even afford to bring over any furniture - I gave most of my belongings away for free and came here with 2 suitcases in hand, alone, and lived in one room in a shared apartment in an Absorption Center for nearly a year. Because I couldn't afford a car, I walked on foot during that time. I knew in advance that my European medical license wouldn't be recognized here. Despite having worked as a Medical Doctor for already 5 years, I knew I'd have to pass a licensing exam again. And as a MD here I'd earn less than where I came from. My Hebrew was rudimentary at best. I, thank G-d, passed the licensing exam, had to give up my first job after that due to still-bad Hebrew, found a wonderful husband and a new job that, b'Ezrat HaShem keeps both of us afloat, as a Doctor in the Israeli Army. I've got a car again by now. And I'm living in the Shomron (Samaria) in a small house in a settlement because I want to emphasize the right of Jews to live everywhere in Eretz Israel. I came with pretty much nothing and HaShem blessed me with everything I ever wanted. If you put all your energy, trust and will into living in Israel and are willing to forgo some luxuries (are they really essential?), HaShem will help and bless you in the country He wants us to live in. It works. I've tried it.”
Everyone knows that one of the keys to Torah learning is reviewing what one has studied. So we won’t worry about sounding repetitive by explaining something from this week’s Torah portion which we have discussed in the past.
More than anything else, Moshe wanted to be in Eretz Yisrael. He prayed to Hashem again and again, hundreds of times, to be allowed to enter the Land, as it says, “I pray thee, let me go over and see the good Land that is beyond the Yarden, that good mountain region and the Lebanon” (Devarim, 3:25).
Rabbi Shalom Gold, who came on aliyah from New York, points out the Moshe employs the word “good” two times in this verse. Moshe is asking Hashem not only to enter the good Land, but also to continue to see it in a good light once he was there.
This is because there is an evil inclination to see the Land of Israel in a negative light. The Spies succumbed to this “yetzer” when they brought back an evil report of the things they saw in the Land. Their description of great walled cities, giants, and non-stop funerals, discouraged the nation and turned their hearts away from making aliyah – perhaps the greatest sin of Jewish history, the sin which ultimately led to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the expulsion of the nation from Eretz Yisrael to the sewers of galut. Only Joshua and Calev spoke out in praise of the Land, and only they, out of all of the men, merited to enter it.
This “yetzer” of seeing the Land of Israel in a negative light is very much with us today. Some complain about the arrogant Israelis. Others complain about the irreligious. Others about the obligation to serve in the army. Still others about the dangers of terrorism. Yet others claim you can’t make a living.
All of these negative claims stem from this evil inclination of saying bad things about Israel. The people who say these things are unaware that they have fallen prey to this terrible, invisible yetzer. They believe they are right. They believe they are justified. They don’t see or understand how they have fallen to engage in the sin of the Spies. They don’t realize that they are adding to the embers of destruction, preventing the Temple’s rebuilding, and prolonging the curse of galut.
From the tragedy of the Spies, we learn that a Jew should be extremely careful not to speak badly about the Land of Israel. Rather, he or she should always strive to see the good aspects of the Land. And they are many indeed. For instance, there are more Jews in Israel than anywhere else. There is more Torah learning in Israel than anywhere else. There are more Torah giants in Israel than anywhere else. There are more organizations dedicated to Hesed (charitable organizations) than anywhere else. There is less assimilation than anywhere else. Not to mention the staggering achievements in science, technology, agriculture, medicine, computer wizardry, and a dozen other fields.
Of course, there is always room for constructive criticism and suggestions on how to improve things, but to find fault and reject living in Israel because of it, this is way of the Spies.
As we learn from Joshua and Calev, the commandment to live in Israel applies even if there are giants and idol worshippers all over the country. It applies even if there are non-religious Jews, and lefties, economic fluctuations and wars. In fact, the halachah states that a Jew should always live in the Land of Israel, even in a city where the majority of the residents are pagans, rather than live in the Diaspora, even in a city where the majority of the residents are Jews.
We live in the Holy Land because it is the Holy Land. The mitzvah to live here doesn’t depend on the politics of the government, nor on whether a person is afraid to serve in the army, or whether he likes falafel or not. There is a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisrael, period, which is not dependent on any others factors. Certainly not on the personal opinions and preferences of this Jew or that.
We have said this all before, but the review is important, again and again if need be, until the learning sinks in.
In the meantime, may all of the Jews in Diaspora come home to Israel today, so that the fast of Tisha B’Av will be canceled and transformed into a feast of joy.
Unlike our blogger from Shilo, I will be at the demonstration today, protesting US pressure to expel the idealistic Jews of Judea and Samaria from their homes. Bloggers from Shilo, and the rest of the brave Jews of Yesha, are exempt from this protest, since they are already doing more than their part of the battle by holding down the fort, day and night, so that the Jewish People can hold on to our Biblical homeland. My presence at the protest is the least I can do as a resident of Jerusalem. I also think that all of the steppinfetchits who voted for Obama should be there too, for giving him the mandate to throw Jews out of their homes. Shame on you.
The Sin of the Spies:
How said it is today to see our beloved Jewish brethren fall into the sin of the Spies. In the Torah portion we read on Shabbat, Moshe recounts what is probably the most ignominious and tragic debacle in Jewish history, the Sin of the Spies.
After reconnoitering the Land of Israel, the Spies came back with their disenchanting report, saying: “One thing I can say is that I can't wait to go back to Australia. I can't stand the Israeli mentality and I think people here are too EXTREME! There is no way I can make aliyah with all the BS going on in this country!”
Their negative report discouraged their fellow Jews from journeying on into the Promised Land. Moshe calls them rebels for not obeying Hashem’s commandment to make aliyah, and Hashem terms them an “evil generation.”
If you don’t want to come on aliyah, that’s your loss. But why discourage others?
“By the Rivers of Brooklyn”
The prayers of mourning in Tikun Hatzot over the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile in the Diaspora begin with the Psalm, “By the Rivers of Brooklyn.”
The Psalm goes like this:
“By the rivers of Brooklyn, and Toronto, and Los Angeles, and Paris, and Melbourne, we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.
“Upon the willows there we hung up our harps, when our captors demanded of us songs, our tormentors asked of us mirth, saying, ‘Sing us some songs of Zion.’
“How shall we sing the L-rd’s song in a foreign land?
“If I ever forget you, O Jerusalem, withered be my right hand!
“May my tongue cleave to my palate, if ever I not think of you, if I ever not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!”
In order that the centrality of Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem always fill a Jews heart and thoughts, our Sages enacted that we recite this Psalm during the week after meals. To teach us that wherever we may stuff our faces with the finest of gourmet foods, or with the hot dogs, pizza, chop suey, and chicken pot pies of the goyim (kosher of course), we will always remember that we belong in the Land of Israel, and not in foreign countries, and that our crippled and shattered lives are empty of true Jewish joy.
This Shabbat, we begin reading the Book of Devarim. With all the nation gathered before him, the Rabbi of all Rabbis, Moshe Rabainu, begins to explain the true meaning of the Torah, as it says:
“Moshe began to explain this Torah….” (Devarim, 1:6).
And what does he tell them?
“You have dwelt long enough in this mountain – turn and take up your journey….” (Ibid).
The Jewish Nation is not supposed to leave in the Diaspora. G-d wants the Jews to live in Israel, as Moshe relates to them the word of God, saying:
“Behold I have set the Land before you; go in and possess the Land which the L-rd swore to your fathers, to Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov, to give to them and to their offspring after them (Devarim, 1:8).
This is spoken to them in the language of a command. Living in the Land of Israel is a commandment of the Torah, in all generations, as the Ramban makes clear (Ramban on the Torah, BaMidbar, 33:53; and Ramban, Supplement to the Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam, Positive Commandment #4 ). All of the authorities of halachah, the Rishonim (early authorities) and Achronim (later authorities) agree with him (See “Pitchei Tshuva,” Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, Section 75, sub-section 6).
In the verse, “Moshe began to explain this Torah….” The Hebrew word for “explain” is באר. Rashi clarifies the meaning of the word by saying that Moshe explained the Torah in 70 languages (See Rashi, loc. cited).
Moshe explained the Torah in 70 languages because he knew that in the future, the Jews would be scattered to the four corners of the world amongst the 70 nations, where they would speak English, and French, and Spanish, and German, and Russian, and Arabic, and Portuguese, Yiddish, Brooklynese, and all of the rest. He wanted each and everyone to know, in the languages that they spoke, that “You have dwelt long enough in the Diaspora – take up your journey - go in and possess the Land which the L-rd swore to your fathers, to Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov, to give to them and to their offspring after them.”
That way they wouldn’t have any excuses, claiming I didn’t know, I didn’t understand.
Pick any language you like. The Torah says the same thing in all of them. A Jew is supposed to live in the Land of Israel. Comprendo?
Posters have been plastered all over billboards in Israel warning that Internet surfing causes cancer. In large, bold black lettering, the posters note that the gematria (numerical value) of the Hebrew letters spelling Internet is the same as the gematria of the Hebrew word for cancer. Both add up to 319.
The posters are referring to the widespread availability of pornography on the Internet, and warning of the very real dangers it can cause. Make no mistake, looking at erotic images on the Internet, in whatever form they take, is a violation of the Torah. Among the several commandments that a person violates when he gazes at immodest images is, “You shall not stray after your heart and your eyes which cause you to go astray.” In one sitting, a surfer can violate this commandment dozens of times, engaging himself in a severe transgression of the Torah for hours on end.
One should not deceive oneself by saying, “What did I do? I only looked. I didn’t do any forbidden deed.” The very looking at pornography and its offshoots is a forbidden deed. Fantasizing about sexual wrongdoing is equally forbidden. And because a person’s eyes and thoughts are connected to the highest spiritual worlds, the damage he or she causes is devastating, severing one’s connection to everything holy, with grave physical consequences as well.
A recent TV show in America dealt with the 13 billion dollar porn industry. The porn industry is a global obsession. Every second, 3,075 dollars are spent on adult content; every second, more than 28,000 Internet users are viewing porn; and every 39 seconds, a new pornographic video is produced in the United States.
Noteworthy is the finding that 70 percent of all online porn access occurs during the nine-to-five workday. Here are just a few of the most likely behavioral clues:
· Hiding Internet use or secretive behaviors.
· Declining work performance.
· Withdrawing from others.
· Increased irritability.
· Losing sleep and declining health.
· Declining interpersonal skills.
· Inappropriate sharing of sexual beliefs with others.
Please don’t take this lightly. Protect yourselves and your families by installing anti-porn filtering systems today. Don’t trust yourself with the password and code. Also, click on our jewishsexuality.com website and read through the articles and Questions and Answers. Check out the Pornoholics Anonymous section, even if you think it doesn’t apply to you. Heaven is patient, but don’t be foolish and wait for the axe to fall.