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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.
Iyar 20, 5769, 5/14/2009
I will try to be as polite as I can and sensitive to the feelings of my beloved brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. I don’t mean to strike out at anyone, nor burst anyone’s bubble. But look what we have here this Shabbat! A Torah portion that pertains unequivocally, completely, 100%, exclusively to the Land of Israel! That’ right, ladies and gentlemen, if you didn’t believe me before, this week’s Torah portion, “Behar,” proves that the Torah was given to be performed in the Land of Israel alone!
Take a look for yourselves! The whole Torah portion details the laws of Shmittah and Yovel, which cannot be performed anywhere else! That’s right! Only in the Land of Israel! Not in Brooklyn and not in France. Only in the Land of Israel! It’s one and only Land that has its own Sabbath!
For those of you who may not be familiar with the Hebrew, “Shmittah” means the Sabbatical Year, and “Yovel” means the Juuuuuuubilee.
Let’s take a look at a few things in the parsha. G-d says to the Jewish People:
“You shall perform My decrees, and observe my ordinances, and perform them, and you shall dwell securely on the Land” (Vayikra, 25:18).
In other words, we are to perform the Torah’s commandments and do them in the Land. The Torah and the Land and the Jewish People go together. It’s what is called a package deal. If something is missing, it’s not the real thing.
Even the most diehard defenders of galut have to face it. There is no such thing as Shmittah or Yovel in the Diaspora. Zero. Effes. They don’t exist. So if a Jew wants to keep the Torah, and not just snips and snatches of it, he or she has to be in Israel.
Isn’t that clear? Can someone possibly not understand this? That is what is written in the Torah itself for everyone to see. It isn’t a secret. I didn’t make it up - so don’t get angry at me.
Here’s something else. Look at this Rashi. He wasn’t known as a Kabbalist, so don’t try to dismiss it as some mystical magic. The Torah portion states:
“I am Hashem your G-d, Who took you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan to be your G-d” (Vayikra, 25:38).
Rashi explains the meaning of “to be your G-d” by writing:
“For whoever resides in the Land of Israel, I am a G-d to him; and whoever leaves it is like one who worships idols” (Rashi, there).
Booooo! Booooo! Booooo to Rashi!
How can he say something like this? Well, for one thing, it is also written verbatim in the Talmud (Ketubot 110B). Also because he understands that the Torah was given to be performed in Israel. Since scores of the commandments can only be performed there, like Shmittah and Yovel, you would think that’s obvious. But Rashi, far far away in France, feels a need to nail the point home, so that the Jews of Paris won’t forget.
Several blogs back, we gave the Ramban’s explanation of this, regarding the angels who preside over the lands of the gentiles, but even without this esoteric understanding, we can grasp the fact that whoever leaves the Land of Israel is like someone who turns his back on the Torah, because he won’t be able to perform many of the mitzvot which only can be performed in G-d’s chosen Land. Rashi makes it clear even for people who don't believe in the secrets of Torah.
And for those of you who want to squawk, “Rashi himself lived in France and didn’t move to Israel,” Rashi lived a thousand years ago when aliyah was extremely difficult. If there had been El Al Airlines back then, you can be sure he would have come!
If we don't realize by ourselves that we don't belong, the goyim sooner or later remind us.
Iyar 19, 5769, 5/13/2009
I want to thank DACON9 and other talkbackers for rebuking me for getting down on Diaspora Jewry. Of course, my love for the Jewish People includes Diaspora Jews. It is precisely out of my love for them that I have been trying to awaken them to the incomparable superiority of Jewish life in the Land of Israel.
My gripe is not with them, but with the superficial understanding of Judaism that is taught throughout the Diaspora, which lauds Diaspora Judaism as in end in itself, and not what it really is - a punishment of exile amongst the gentiles until we return to our own Land. Instead of teaching their communities that the goal of each and every Jew should be to live a Torah life in Israel, as explicitly expressed in our daily prayers, Jewish leaders and educators in the Diaspora work toward the strengthening of Jewish life in the exile itself. So the Jews there don’t know any better. In their innocence, they believe they are doing the right thing. If not for Arutz 7, and a few others snorkels of genuine oxygen, they would be entirely DOA by the time they got to Israel.
Fishman visiting relatives in America
The truth is that Diaspora Jews are a lot stronger than I am. I can’t be there more than a few days before I start to feel sick. I start to feel dizzy, confused, suffocated, as if there is no air to breathe. But the Jews who live there don’t seem to be affected by the lack of holiness in their surroundings at all. It wasn’t for naught that the Rabbis of the Talmud declared the lands outside of Israel impure. Someone who is accustomed to the holiness of the Land of Israel can actually feel the spiritual vacuum of the Diaspora if he should have to visit there, or go there on some type of shlichut.
So I have great respect for my brothers and sisters in the Diaspora who have the stamina to endure and to strengthen the Jewish communities there. They are also much braver than I. Walking the streets in the Diaspora, whether it be on Broadway in Harlem, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, or the Boulevard Montparnasse in gay Paree, I’m frightened to death by all the goyim, with their cold stares and their clean, razor-shaven faces of Roman gladiators. “Get me out of here!” I silently pray every second I’m there. “Even though I walk through the valleys of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me,” I repeat like a mantra, again and again.
So, kol hakavod, chevre! I lift up my kippah to you in esteem. Your passion for Judaism is a lot stronger than mine. If I had stayed in the Diaspora like you, I would have given up the mitzvot and gone back to my old rancid ways. Your fierce attachment to Judaism, in a foreign place, in an impure environment, in a vapid, non-Jewish culture, surrounded by danger every minute, it’s just incredible to me! How you have the fortitude and courage to observe the Jewish holidays, and walk to shul on Shabbat, and send your children to Jewish Day schools, it’s all baffling to me. Truly, we need to establish an annual Diaspora Day to honor the Jews in the exile for keeping the flame of Judaism burning in the darkness.
Yes, my brothers and sisters scattered all over the globe, I am sorry if I have offended you. I am proud and honored that you are readers of this blog!
Iyar 18, 5769, 5/12/2009
Hundreds of thousands of Jews flocked to tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron last night to celebrate Lag B’Omer by paying tribute to the author of the Zohar on his Yahrtzeit. Hundreds of thousands more, men, women, teenagers and children, religious and non-religious alike, sang songs about Rabbi Shimon, danced, and learned Torah all night around bonfires all over the country.
Rabbi Shimon lived during the Roman occupation of Israel. The Talmud describes the event that forced him to flee from the Romans and hide out in a cave with his son for 12 years, during which time the secrets of Torah were revealed to him by celestial visitors - Eliahu HaNavi and Moshe Rabainu. In a discussion about the Roman occupiers, he refused to praise their doings, saying, “All that they have done here, they have done for themselves. They built marketplaces to set their harlots in them; they built bathhouses to sport in them; they built bridges to collect tolls.” When the Romans were informed of his remarks, they issued a death sentence on him, which led to his fleeing (Shabbat 33, the gematria of Lag).
We can’t say coincidently, because we understand that there is no coincidence. But isn’t it interesting that the head of Rome today is visiting in Israel at this very time when the nation is celebrated our great hero, Rabbi Shimon? Today, just as in the time of Rabbi Shimon, everything that the goyim do for Israel they do for themselves, out of their own self-interest. There gestures of peace come to steal our land; their financial and military aid come to fortify Israel in order to protect their own grip on the Middle East; their bear hugs set the stage for the knife in our back; their missions of love come to tear us away from our heritage and from being the true chosen nation of G-d.
I had the privilege of celebrating Lag B’Omer with the revered Tzaddik, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi and students. May we all merit to cling to our holy Torah, increase our learning and prayers, and thus erect an impenetrable shield to protect us from all of the deceivers, whether from the Vatican or Washington D.C. whose smiles, Rabbi Shimon taught us, are the smiles of wolves.
HaRav Leon at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai
In the tomb of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess
HaRav Leon prepares a meal for his students.
Toob bad DACON couldn't make it.
On the shores of the Kinneret
"Walk on the water - that's easy!"
Setting the night on fire.
Iyar 16, 5769, 5/10/2009
Yes, it’s true that the Catholic and Christian world is responsible for the murder of millions of Jews.
Yes, it is true that the Vatican stood by and did nothing to prevent the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust.
Yes, it is true that the belief in Yeshu is idol worship with all of its statues and polytheistic trinities.
Yes, it is true that Christianity and is offshoots have led the world astray from G-d and His commandments, to follow after a false religion.
Yes, it is true that the empty and misleading doctrines of Christianity are the source of the moral decay of Western culture and its incessant world wars.
Yes, it is true that no representative of the Vatican or the Catholic Church should be allowed to step foot in the Holy Land until they beg the Jewish People’s forgiveness and renounce all of their errant and evil ways.
Yes, all of these things are true.
Nonetheless, allow me to shed a glimmer of light on the present pompous and pontifical visit, seeing it as the forerunner of a prophecy that is sure to come to pass.
Inscribed on the famous Isaiah Wall outside of the United Nations is the prophecy:
“THEY SHALL BEAT THEIR SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES, AND THEIR SPEARS INTO PRUNING HOOKS; NATION SHALL NOT LIFT UP SWORD AGAINST NATION. NEITHER SHALL THEY LEARN WAR ANY MORE” (Isaiah, 2:4).
Of course, the anti-Semites at the UN left out the preceding verses of Isaiah’s prophecy which explain how this ideal situation will come to pass:
“And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the L-rd’s House shall be established on the foremost of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and all the nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come and let us go up unto the mountain of the L-rd, to the House of the G-d of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Law from Jerusalem” (Ibid, 2:2-3).
In simple words, the goyim will come to Jerusalem and learn from the Jews how to serve G-d.
Only then will nations no longer lift up sword against fellow nations.
The current visit is a preview of what will be in the near future as all of the repenting imposters crawl on their hands and knees up the road to the House of G-d in Jerusalem to learn from the Jews the true way of serving Hashem.
May it come soon!
Iyar 13, 5769, 5/7/2009
This morning, as I was filling up my car with gas, a beautiful woman got of her car, causing me to take a second look. Now, most of the time when this happens, when an attractive woman enters my line of vision, I am pretty good about looking away. I work hard on this, because it is an important ingredient in maintaining one’s holiness as a Jew. But this morning, the yetzer hara got the best of me, and I did a double take. Immediately, a downpour of bird doo spattered over my head. It must have been a big bird because I got drenched, including my beard. I tried to get a glimpse of the bird, but the sky was empty, as if the bird doo was a sign straight out of Heaven.
"Oh, man, will you look at that!"
When I got home, my wife took one look at me covered with bird doo and angrily yelled, “Have you been looking at women again?!”
Grabbing a hold of an umbrella that we had neglected to put away for next winter, she smashed me over the head with a couple of scolding blows. Deserving the punishment, I didn’t try to defend myself.
“You beast!” she accused. “You dog! You total phony!”
What could I do? She was right. A Jew who looks at women to enjoy their beauty is no better than a dog. He’s worse. A dog isn’t commanded not to look at women. But when a Jew sees a woman, and continues to gaze lustfully at her, rather than averting his gaze, he is violating a commandment of the Torah, “You shall not stray after your heart and your eyes that lead you astray” (Bamidbar, 15:39).
If he fantasizes about her, he is violated another commandment, “You shall guard yourself from every evil thing,” as the Talmud teaches: “This means a man should not gaze on an attractive woman, even an unmarried one, nor upon a married woman, even if she is ugly” (Avodah Zara 20A). This is because “a man shouldn’t have sexual thoughts in the day and come to impurity at night” (Ibid 20B).
Needless to say, these prohibitions apply to internet viewing as well. When a person looks at an erotic photo, he cuts himself off from G-d. Holiness and impurity cannot exist in the same place. He darkens his soul and all of the exalted spiritual worlds to which he is connected.
Viewing porn on the Internet ruins people’s lives. Running a site on the theme, I get emails that are heartbreaking and shocking. Men start out thinking they can control their flirtation with cyberspace lovers, but get hooked beyond their worst dreams. It is a plague that ruins more people than all of the swine and cattle flu’s combined.
Searching for an Internet Flu Vaccine
While I am getting hit on the head with bird doo and umbrellas, I want to thank DACON9 for the dose he gave me in his last talkback. I don’t mean to get down on the Jews who choose to liiiiiinger in the Diaspora instead of hopping on a plane to live in Israel, but rather to criticize the philosophy that maintains that living in the exile is 100% kosher.
One thing should be clear. ALL RABBIS agree that living in Israel is a mitzvah. If he doesn’t, he is not a rabbi. The debate is whether coming on aliyah is a Torah mitzvah at this time, before the Mashiach’s arrival – may he come soon! Beyond this question, a basic tenet of Judaism is that all Jews should WANT to live in Israel. The yearning to live in Israel should pump strongly in every Jewish heart. “Next year in Jerusalem!” has been our national dream and longing for the last 2000 years.
Even the Jews in the Diaspora who find it impossible to move to Israel because of legitimate health, family, or financial problems, each and everyone should WANT to live in Israel and experience daily heartfelt regret that he or she can’t. Certainly all young people should be encouraged by parents and Jewish educators to make aliyah as soon as they can, and they should be taught from the earliest age that the true goal of Judaism is to rebuild our Torah nation in the Land of Israel – not in the exile. It is the “let’s make the exile a better, stronger place” philosophy that must be wiped out, in order to restore G-d’s fallen honor to where it belongs – something that can only be achieved through the establishment of Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel, as we will, G-d willing, endeavor to explain in an upcoming blog.