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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.

       

      Iyar 12, 5769, 5/6/2009

      The King and I - Peres Meets Obama


      "In Israel, we open watermelons with a karate chop down the center."

      People often ask me why I don’t write about the political situation? The answer is that most of my readers live in the Diaspora. Outside of those generous souls who donate money to worthwhile Israeli organizations and projects, most Diaspora Jews have absolutely no influence on things in Israel, so what would be the purpose of my writing about politics? As far as my Arutz-7 Israeli readers are concerned, they are wise enough to figure out what’s going on without me telling them. So I try to write about things that can have an influence – like waking Diaspora Jews up to the vapidity of Jewish life in the exile, and to the dangers of imitating the ways of the gentiles, especially in sexual matters.

      Today was the 27th day of the Omer. I know there are readers who like to believe that Judaism is merely the rote practicing of commandments which lack any inner depth, but the truth is that, just like a Jew has a soul, the Torah has a soul too, and this is its inner dimension, known as the secrets of Torah, or the Kabbalah. In Israel, when you open a prayer book to the pages of Sefirat HaOmer, next to each day of the counting are the names of two Kabbalistic Sefirot, or channels of spiritual expression that bring Hashem’s multi-faceted blessings to the world. Because these heavenly Sefirot parallel our character traits, our Sages teach us that during the 49 days of the counting from Pesach to Shavuot, we are to work on improving and sanctifying each of these traits so that we will be prepared to receive the Torah on the holiday which marks our acceptance of the Torah. Today the Sefirot we are to work on are “Yesod” of “Nezach.” Without going in to detail, “Yesod” is associated with sexual holiness, and “Nezach” is associated with overcoming the evil inclination. So today, we are to concentrate on strengthening ourselves in the battle that has been raging ever since the Snake first tempted Adam and Eve. When they failed the test, the task was given to the Nation of Israel, symbolized by the covenant of circumcision, to teach the world the importance of sexual purity.

      At the end of last week’s Torah reading, Achre Mot, the many prohibitions concerning forbidden sexual relationships are enumerated. These include sexual relations with non-Jews and intermarriage, the different incestuous family relations, the prohibition of being with a woman who has not purified herself from the impurity of menstruation (known as “niddah”), adultery, the abomination of homosexuality, and sexual relations with animals. The Torah portion concludes: “Do not make yourselves impure through them; I am Hashem, you G-d” (Vayikra, 18:30). Rashi explains this to mean: “But if you make yourselves impure, then I am not your G-d, and you become unfit to be My followers, for what benefit do I have from you when you deserve annihilation?”

      Thus, the Torah and our Sages stress the upmost importance in guarding the laws of sexual purity. The Torah warns that for violating these laws, the Jewish People will be vomited out of the Land of Israel, for the Land of Israel is a Holy Land that will not tolerate transgressors against the Covenant.

      The next Torah portion, Kedoshim, commences with this same holy call to the Jews: “The L-rd spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and say to them, YOU SHALL BE HOLY, for I, the L-rd your G-d am holy” (Vayikra, 19:1). Rashi explains that the command to be holy means to be removed from sexual sin. The Ramban adds that a Jew should not only guard himself against forbidden sexual relations, he should even sanctify himself in all matters that are permitted to him:

      “The Torah has admonished us against immorality and eating forbidden foods, but permitted sexual relations between man and wife, and the eating of kosher meat and wine. If so, a man of desire could consider this to be a permission to be passionately addicted to sexual intercourse with his wife, and be a drunk and gluttonous eater, and thus he will become a sordid individual with the permission of the Torah! Therefore, after having listed the matters which G-d prohibited altogether, the Torah followed them up with the general command (to be holy) that we practice moderation even in matters which are permitted: (for instance) one should minimize sexual relations with one’s wife, as the Rabbis have stated, ‘So that Torah scholars should not be found with their wives like roosters,’ and he should not engage in it except as required in fulfillment of the commandment….” (Ramban, Commentary on the Torah, verse cited.)

      This is not Kabbalah. This is straight and simple Torah and the explanation of our Sages. Just like a Jew is different from a gentile in that he has his own Land to live in, apart from the gentiles and their impure, gentile lands – he is to act differently than the gentiles, and not imitate their unholy ways, as it says, “Like the practice of the land of Egypt where you dwelled, do not do; and do not perform the practices of the Canaanites in the land to which I bring you” (Vayikra, 18:3).

      We are to be distinguished from the gentiles by where we live, by what we do, by what we eat, by how we dress, by our holidays, by our language, and by our beliefs.

      That’s what being a Jew is all about.



      Iyar 10, 5769, 5/4/2009

      Judaism in the Twilight Zone


      Remember the old TV show, the “Twilight Zone?” With Rod Serling? Fantastic, wasn’t it? If Rod had done a show on the Diaspora, here’s how he might have begun:

      “This is Jeremy Cohen. He’s going to the shul this morning just like he does every day to put on Tefillin and pray, thinking that he is practicing the real Judaism of his forefathers, but he doesn’t know that his prayers are giving strength to his enemies, because Jeremy Cohen is lost in foreign dimension, an unwitting captive in the Diaspora, otherwise known as the Twilight Zone.”

      "Welcome to the Diaspora"

      To explain this deep conception, we will once again have a look at the Commentary of the Ramban to the Torah portion of Achre Mot. Unlike other lands, the Land of Israel vomits out sinners. The Ramban explains this unique holiness of the Land of Israel by revealing that when G-d  created the world and distributed the different lands to different peoples, he placed Angels, or Celestial Ministers, over the gentile nations to rule over their affairs.

      Angel of America

      The different characteristics of these angels result in the differing cultures and languages and customs of the peoples. The Ramban writes:  

      “Now outside the Land of Israel, though every place belongs to His glorious Name, its purity is not perfect because of the celestial servants that hold sway there, and the gentiles go astray after these celestial agents to worship them. This is the reason that Hashem is known as the ‘G-d of gods.’  

      Only one land had no Celestial Minister appointed over it – the Land of Israel, which G-d rules over alone. Therefore moral transgression (especially sexual transgression) is much more stringent in the Land of Israel than other lands, and the Holy Land vomits out sinners who pollute the Land through their deeds ( Ramban, Commentary on the Torah, Vayikra, 18:25).

      It is G-d’s intention that His Chosen People live in His Chosen Land, and so He rules over Israel alone without any intermediary angel. The Ramban states:

      “This is the meaning of the saying of the Rabbis of the Talmud: ‘Whoever lives outside the Land of Israel is as if he has no G-d’ (Ketubot 110B), for it is said, ‘I am the Eternal, your G-d, Who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, to be your G-d’ (Devarim, 25:38).  When you are in the land of Canaan, I am your G-d. When you are not in the land of Canaan, I am not your G-d (Ramban, loc cited).

      Now, of course, G-d is everywhere, but because he has appointed angels to rule over other lands, it is as if a Jew in the Diaspora has no G-d. All of his prayers and Torah learning go up to the gentile angel who presides over that land, giving strength to that foreign nation. This is why wherever Jews lived in great numbers, the countries they lived in were superpowers. And this is why when the Jews left those countries, like Spain and Russia, their great empires collapsed.

      This is what makes the Diaspora a “Twilight Zone.” The Jew thinks he is worshipping G-d and keeping the Torah as it is meant to be kept, but this isn’t the case at all. Thus, our Rabbis have taught that whoever lives in the Diaspora is like one who worships foreign gods (Ketubot 110B) because of the angels that rule there. Furthermore, they said: “In all times a Jew should live in the Land of Israel, even in a city where the majority of inhabitants are pagans, and not live in the Diaspora, even in a city where the majority of inhabitants are Jews, for everyone who dwells in Eretz Yisrael is like someone who has a G-d, and everyone who dwells outside of the Land is like someone who has no G-d” (Ibid).

      G-d created the Jewish People to be His unique treasure: “You shall be my unique treasure from amongst all the peoples” (Shemot, 19:5). “You shall be My people, and I will be your G-d” (Yermiyahu, 11:4). In other words, the Ramban explains, the Jewish People will not be under any lesser Celestial Ministers, so He gave them their own special Land, where He alone is sovereign without His heavenly assistants. “I am the Eternal your G-d who has set you apart from the peoples” (Yermiyahu, 22:20), meaning, in the words of the Ramban: “He has set us apart from the nations over which He has appointed heavenly princes and other celestial powers by giving us the Land of Israel so He, blessed be He, will be our G-d.”    

      This isn’t something I just made up to get down on the continuing love affair with the Diaspora. These are the words of our Sages and the Ramban, who was called the “Father of Israel” because of his greatness in Torah.

      The Ramban goes on to explain why our Twilight Zone character, Jeremy Cohen, isn’t really performing the mitzvah of Tefillin as it is supposed to be performed when he laces the straps over his forearm before morning prayers. This is because the mitzvot are meant to be performed in the Land of Israel, and not in the Diaspora, where they are like a practice rehearsal until we return to Israel:

      “Although I banish you from the Land of Israel to outside of the Land, make your selves distinctive by continuing to keep the commandments, so that when you return they will not be novelties to you” (Ramban, there. Also, Sifre, Ekev, 43). Why? Because, the Ramban answers: “The main fulfillment of the commandments is performing them when dwelling in the Land of Israel. Therefore our Sages have said that dwelling in the Land of Israel is equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah” (Sifre, Reih, 80).

      Like batting practice - it ain't the real thing

      Whether you call the Diaspora the “Twilight Zone” or the “Matrix,” the idea is the same. You might think that it’s the real thing, but it isn’t. You might think it’s the right place to be, but it isn’t. You might think you are leading a full Jewish life, but you’re not. As the theme song sounds, “Dee dee, dee dee, dee dee, dee dee, dee dee….”

      Moshe Brown escaped the Matrix - So can you!

      Jeremy Cohen may be content putting on his tefillin, but he’s a prisoner of the Twilight Zone. What about you?   



      Iyar 7, 5769, 5/1/2009

      The Diaspora Matrix


      For me, the most poignant event of this year’s Israel Independence Day was attending the memorial ceremony at my children’s religious grade school.  Two of my sons, along with a large cast of other 10-12 years olds, told stories about brave Israeli soldiers who had fallen defending our cherished homeland, the greatest sacrifice and sanctification of G-d that a Jew can make. Others acted out the famous battle of Givat HaTachmoshet, one of the decisive battles of the Six Day War. After the profoundly moving two-minute long siren that is sounded all over the country, the children paraded with Israeli flags around the auditorium in tune to the rousing Israeli melodies of the school band.

      Little Fishies

      “Thank you, G-d,” I said quietly.

      “Thank you for taking me out of America. Thank you for erasing all of the American garbage and tapes and TV shows in my head. Thank you for making me realize that George Washington isn’t my real forefather, and that the Boston Tea Party has nothing to do with my past."  

      He ain't my forefather!

      "Thank you G-d for rescuing me from a false identity and a foreign land. Thank you G-d for bringing me to the Land of the Jews and teaching me the true meaning of Torah, which isn’t just performing individual mitzvot, like kashrut and Shabbos, but helping to build the Jewish Nation in its Holy Land. Thank you G-d for giving me healthy, wonderful children who are all growing up as Jews through and through, celebrating Israel’s independence, and not someone else’s, and honoring Jewish soldiers who died in the realization of a 2000 year old dream and not cowboys, wrestlers, and movie stars.”

      Only an immigrant who lives in Israel can appreciate the incredible difference between religious kids who grow up in Israel with their Diaspora counterparts. My children are a different species of child, a totally different breed. Sure they like candy and Coke and playing basketball like all children, but their heads are completely different.

      The wars they learn about are Jewish wars. Their war heroes are Israeli. Their flag is the Star of David – not the Stars and Stripes of someone else’s country. Their songs of patriotism are Israeli. They celebrate Israel independence and not the Fourth of July. The history they learn is the history of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and King David, Rabbi Akiva and the Macabbees. Instead of growing up being American kids who are Jewish, they are Children of Israel, just as we are called in the Bible.

      Jewish on the inside

      Say what you will, Jewish life in the Diaspora is like M&M’s, Jewish on the inside and sugar coated on the outside. For example, whether Jewish children in America be completely secular, reform, modern Orthodox, or Haredi, their souls may be Jewish but their heads are sugar coated with the gentile culture that surrounds them. They think like Americans, speak like Americans, act like Americans, dress like Americans, identify with America, like American things, think Washington DC is their capital, and celebrate the Fourth of July.

      Here in Israel, I meet a lot of wonderful, young Jewish Americans who come for a year of study. No matter what religious group they belong to, or how many years they’ve been in yeshiva, their heads are 100% pasteurized, homogenized American. Religious-wise they are all good, well-meaning Jews, but their heads have been grafted with all of the history and folklore of America, from Betsy Ross to Sylvester Stallone and jokes about Obama. Who isn’t familiar with the silly giggles and loud juvenile chatter of American Jewish girls on Israeli buses? “Oh cool, oh colossal, oh Julie, what a freak out, hee hee hee!” While Israeli kids their age are going into the army or some other meaningful national service.      

      Thank G-d my kids are growing up in Israel. Thank G-d for opening my eyes that being Jewish means being absorbed in Jewish history, and celebrating Jewish independence, and living in the Jewish Land, and performing the mitzvot in the place they were meant to be performed, and actualizing the goal of our prayers by living a life of Torah in the Land which You gave to our Forefathers.

      Thank you G-d that my children are growing up as Children of Israel, and not children of America or Australia or France. Thank you G-d that my children will marry Jews. Thank you G-d for enabling me to understand the amazing difference between being here in Israel, Your chosen Land, even with all of the challenges and difficulties, rather than living out an unreal Matrix identity in some gentile foreign land.

      The Diaspora Experience

      Thank you G-d for rescuing me from the Matrix and for bringing me home.

        



      Iyar 3, 5769, 4/27/2009

      Don't Worry! Be Happy!


      On Israel Independence Day, just two weeks before the Six-Day War, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Hakohen Kook stood up in the study hall of the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva and gave an unforgettable speech. Several weeks later, after all of the miraculous events which brought Jerusalem and the Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria back into our hands, students remembered with wonder all of the prophetic words which the Rabbi had spoken.

      Must Reading!

      This blog is excerpted from the book, “Torah Eretz Yisrael,” which I had the honor of writing, editing, and publishing with the esteemed Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook. Recently, the book was reprinted for the seventh time and can be purchased online. Certainly, it is one of the most important Jewish books of our time in setting forth Rabbi Kook’s profound Torah understandings as they relate to our time of Redemption.

      UN Partition Plan

      Rabbi Kook began his speech to the crowded assembly by recalling the night in November, nineteen years before, when the United Nations voted to partition the Palestine of the British Mandate into a truncated Jewish State. The gentile nations of the world were negotiating in New York on the allocation of Palestine between the Arabs and the Jews. Radios all over Israel were tuned to the broadcast. Suddenly, Rav Kook, said, the announcement came….

      The announcement is cheered all over the country!

      The Rosh Yeshiva paused in his speech. His emotion filled the hall. That night nineteen years before, when the announcement had come over the radio, a spontaneous joy had swept over the country. Men, women, and children rushed out of their homes to dance in the streets. Yet HaRav Tzvi Yehuda had a different reaction. As he recounted the UN decision, his voice echoed with pain:

      “The connection to the Holy Temple,” he began. “The connection to the Kedusha, and to the life, and to the soul….”

      He couldn’t finish the sentence that spoke of the dividing of Jerusalem. The memory overwhelmed him. He wept as he stood before the students and guests of the Yeshiva, who had come to celebrate Israel Independence Day. The connection to Jerusalem, and to our Holy Land, our life and our soul, had been severed by the decision in New York to partition our Land. Eretz Yisrael, the eternal inheritance of our Forefathers, had been cut into pieces. Portions of the country had been placed into foreign hands. In that hour, when the multitudes were celebrating on the streets of the country, Rav Tzvi Yehuda sat alone in his father’s old room in Jerusalem. Even nineteen years later, the pain of the memory was etched on his face.

      “I couldn’t leave the house,” he said. “How heartbroken I was. I couldn’t go out to join the festive celebration on Jaffe Street. I couldn’t take part in the rejoicing.”

      “I sat alone. Distressed. It weighed so heavily on me. In those first hours, I couldn’t come to terms with what had happened. The word of Hashem had come to pass – ‘They have divided My Land!’ (Joel, 4:2). With all of my effort and strength, with all of my soul and my spirit and willpower, it was impossible for me to go outside.”

      “How could it be that I didn’t go out?” he rhetorically asked.

      “THEY DIVIDED MY LAND!” he shouted. The forcefully, he cried out, “WHERE IS OUR HEVRON?! DO WE FORGET THIS?! AND WHERE IS OUR SHECHEM?! DO WE FORGET ABOUT THIS?! AND WHERE IS OUR JERICHO?! DO WE FORGET THIS TOO?! AND WHERE IS OUR OTHER-SIDE OF THE JORDAN?! WHERE IS EACH BLOCK OF OUR EARTH?! EACH PART AND PARCEL OF HASHEM’S LAND?!”

      “IS IT IN OUR HANDS TO RELINQUISH ANY MILLIMETER OF THIS?!” he shouted, and answered, “G-D FORBID!”

      Everyone in the Yeshiva was silent. People had gathered to celebrate our Independence, but Rav Tzvi Yehuda wanted everyone to know and to feel that our triumph was still incomplete.

      “And so I couldn’t go out to the street,” Rav Kook continued. “I couldn’t in this situation, when I was so utterly wounded, when I was so cut to pieces. THEY DIVIDED MY LAND!”

      “THEY DIVIDED THE LAND OF HASHEM! Because of political considerations!”

      “I couldn’t go out and dance and be merry, the way we dance and are joyous today. That was the way it was that night, during those hours.”

      The Rosh Yeshiva’s anguish over the partitioning of Eretz Yisrael was shared by Rabbi Yaacov Moshe Harlop, a student and close friend of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook, Rav Tzvi Yehuda’s father. The day after the UN announcement, he came to visit HaRav Tzvi Yehuda in Rabbi’s Kook’s old house on Jaffa Street. They sat in the same room which Rabbi Kook had used as his study, and huddled together, shattered over what had occurred. Then, finding encouragement in each other, they quoted the verse of Hallel, “This is the L-rd’s doing; it is wondrous in our eyes.” Only then, Rav Tzvi Yehuda told the crowd, did he find the strength to go out to the nation.

      Spontaneous joy!

      “That first night, I didn’t go out to dance in the streets, because I felt that I, like the Land of Israel, had been cut into pieces and wounded in my heart. But afterward, with faith in Hashem, I knew that we would overcome the difficulties. I began to go out each year to dance on Yom Haatzmaut – out of recognition of Hashem’s Providence, which is active in all of the events of our time.”

      Today, dear blog readers, we can learn from Rav Tzvi Yehuda what our orientation should be toward Israel Independence Day, in light of the disturbing events of our times. Yes, we have problems in Israel, and setbacks, and painful losses, and cause for tears – but we must remember that everything that transpires in our cherished Holy Land is the workings of Hashem, “This is the L-rd’s doing; it is wondrous in our eyes.”  Our principle feeling should be joy in our statehood and thanks to the Almighty for bringing it to pass after an exile of 2000 years.

      As HaRav Tzvi Yehuda said:

      “Our joy on this day is the joy of a mitzvah. We have merited to sanctify Hashem’s Name in the Land. We have merited to fulfill the Torah commandment of dwelling in Eretz Yisrael, as taught by the Ramban, through his own example of aliyah to live in Israel, and through his halachic ruling that dwelling in Israel is a positive commandment of the Torah – that this Land be in our hands, in a national sense, and not in the hands of any other nation.”

      “It is true that there are shortcomings, and matters which have to be changed. We don’t hide our eyes from the things which need to be improved. This is not to be questioned. Rather, we expect that as the years pass, the problems will be solved.”

      Rav Kook reminded his students of one of the Rambam’s principles of faith regarding the Mashiach: “Even though his coming is delayed, even with all this, I will wait for him.”

      “We have faith,” Rav Tzvi Yehuda said, “even with all of the problems that his coming involves. “For there is no doubt that the problems will all be healed in the perpetual process of perfecting the souls of our nation.”

      “The intrinsic value of the State of Israel is not dependent on the number of Orthodox Jews who live here. Of course, our aspiration is that all of our people will embrace the Torah and its mitzvoth. However, the Statehood of Israel is holy, whatever religious level it has. Anyone who refuses to recognize that State of Israel does not recognize the return of the Divine Presence to Zion.”

      Only a child expects his desires to be fulfilled at once. Rav Kook emphasized that the Redemption of the Jewish Nation was a gigantic, world historic undertaking of unparalled dimensions, which unfolds “Little by little, like the dawning of the sun” (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot, 1:1).

      The Dawning of Redemption

      “Patience,” he said, “is not surrender. True patience, the patience of holiness, is bind to the call for perfection. There is no contradiction between the drive for perfection, in all of its force, with patience which understands that perfection is achieved in gradual stages, from year to passing year.”

      The Talmud asserts that the Land of Israel is acquired through suffering (Berachot 20A). Difficulties, wars, advances and setbacks are all a part of G-d’s plan. Our Sages compare the Redemption of Israel to a gazelle bounding over a mountainside. Sometimes the gazelle leaps into sight, and other times it seems to vanish, until it suddenly leaps into view once again.

      Like a tzvi appearing and disappearing over the mountains.

      “The setbacks we face are temporary,” Rav Tzvi Yehuda assured. “All steps backwards are transitory and passing. Just as there are stages in everything, there are stages of conquering the Land of Israel. Advances sometimes come in hidden stages. But these are only temporary delays. One shouldn’t be juvenile. One must look at the global upheaval involved in bringing us back to our Land and recognize the Divine unfolding of, ‘When the L-rd brought the exiles to Zion’ (Tehillim, 126:1). Because of its staggering scale, the process naturally undergoes difficulties and problems. The greater a thing is, the more complicated it is. The unfolding of our Redemption is a historical event of colossal proportions. Anything which stands in the way of our inexorable march to fulfillment is merely a brief delay of, ‘His anger is only a moment’ (Tehillim, 30:6). All of the disturbances are trivialities which have no lasting substance in this sweeping historical process. It is true that there are occasionally difficult and trying situations, but we shall overcome. The actions of the gentiles, or of the superficially thinking Jews, which oppose this Divine historic plan, carry no weight whatsoever. These become null and void in the light of the Torah and Hashem’s Providence over His people.”

      So don’t worry, my good friends. Be happy!

      Happy Yom Haazmaut!       

        



      Nisan 30, 5769, 4/24/2009

      Statehood - A Torah Commandment


      People occasionally ask, where is it written in the Torah that we have to build a State? Apparently, they are not familiar with the words of the giant Torah authority, the Ramban, who repeatedly stated that we are commanded that the Land of Israel be in our hands, and not in the hands of any other nation:

      “We were commanded to inherit this Land which the L-rd, Blessed Be He, gave to our Forefathers, to Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov, and not to abandon it to the hands of other nations, or abandon it to desolation. Hashem said to them, ‘To inherit the Land and dwell there, for to you I have given the Land to possess, and you shall inherit the Land that I swore to your Forefathers’ – behold, we are commanded with its conquest in every generation (Ramban, Supplement to Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam, Positive Commandment 4).

      The Ramban continues:

      “This is what our Sages call ‘Milchemet Mitzvah,’ an obligatory war. This Land is not to be left in the hands of the Seven Nations, or in the hands of any other nation, in any generation whatsoever…this is a positive commandment which applies at every time” (Ramban, ibid).

      The Ramban concludes:

      “And the proof that this is a Torah commandment is this – they were told in the matter of the Spies, ‘Go up and conquer the Land as Hashem has said to you. Don’t fear, and don’t be discouraged.’ And further it says, ‘And when the L-rd sent you from Kadesh Barnea saying, Go up and possess the Land which I gave you, and you rebelled against the L-rd your G-d, and you did not believe in me, and did not listen to this command’” (Ibid).

      All of the early and later Torah authorities, the Rishonim and Achronim, decide the law in this fashion on the basis of the Ramban that the precept of conquering the Land applies in all generations, and all of the agree that it is a commandment of the Torah (Shuchan Oruch, Pitchei T’shuva, Evan HaEzer, 75:6).

      Sovereignty over a country means having an army, a government, courts, an economic system, etc. By commanding us to rule over the Land of Israel, the Torah commands us to establish a State. Rabbi Kook emphasized that whether sovereignty is brought about by a prime minister, a prophet, a judge, or a king, it is valid Jewish sovereignty when it comes on behalf of Clal Yisrael (Mishpat Kohen, 337).

      "Go and possess the Land!"

      Thus, the State of Israel is a commandment of the Torah. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook emphasized that, “The intrinsic value of the State is not dependent on the number of observant Jews here. Of course, our aspiration is that all of our people will embrace the Torah and the mitzvot. Nonetheless, the Statehood of Israel is holy, whatever religious level it contains.”

      “There are religious Jews who express a type of criticism and say, ‘If the State of Israel were run according to our lifestyle and spirit, then we would accept it. Until then we abstain from it.’ They talk as if the State does not belong to them. But the truth is that the State belongs to all of us.”

      Anyone who refuses to recognize the State of Israel does not recognize Hashem’s rule over what takes place in the world.

      Rabbi Kook said that we had to be patient, that Redemption came slowly in gradual stages, little by little (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 1:1), and that it would reach perfection with time.

      “In the Gemara, our Sages explain that all of the material used in building the Temple became sanctified only after it was set into place. We build with the profane and sanctify afterward (Meilah 14A and B, see Rashi there). This was enacted because our Sages realized that during the construction, workers would sit in the shade of the building to rest from the sun, and thus improperly derive personal benefit from something which had been exclusively dedicated for the use of the Temple. The Beit HaMikdash was built in this fashion, and this is the way the Redemption of Israel develops, in stages, little by little. Just as the stones used in building the Temple were not sanctified, so too the building of Eretz Yisrael is accomplished by every segment of the nation, by the righteous and by the less righteous. We build with the secular, even though this causes complications and problems, and little by little all of the various problems will vanish, and the sanctification of Hashem will appear in more and more light.”

      Just as settling and building the Land is a great mitzvah, people who discourage others from performing this all-important commandment are committing a grave sin. Rav Tzvi Yehuda stressed:

      “In our generation, we are in a situation of war, and we must be careful over what we say. We must strengthen the conquest and settlement of the Land with intelligence and reason, boldness and strength, and by guarding our speech. We must guard against language which leads to discouragement. The Torah forbids this weakening of others by saying, ‘Lest his brother’s heart melt like his heart’ (Devarim, 20:8). In our time, weakheartedness is as forbidden as pork.”

      "Aliyah is suicide!"

      Whether this weakheartedness comes from diehard leftists in Israel, or from masturtalkbackers on the Internet, all of their highfalutin theories are as traf as pork.