Middle East 5:43 AM 3/7/2014
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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.
The exile is the pinnacle and essence of Chilul Hashem. Indeed, the liquidation of the exile is a Kiddush Hashem, and regarding this mitzvah all of Israel are commanded.
There are those who accuse me of distorting the interpretation of Ezekiel’s prophecy in yesterday’s blog. So let’s see what the saintly Rabbi Meir Kahane, of blessed memory, wrote about the very same prophecy regarding the salvation of Israel from the Chilul Hashem of galut, and about the exaltedness of the State of Israel – even with all of its shortcomings.
What it comes down to is – either you are a part of the solution, by being in Israel and working to rebuild it along Torah ideals; or you are a part of the problem, by remaining in the exile and thereby prolonging its existence.
(The following is a condensed excerpt from his book, “The Jewish Idea,” Vol. 2:)
WE HAVE no clearer picture of the degradation and abhorrence which Israel face in the exile and which result in Chilul Hashem (desecration of G-d). In response to this Chilul Hashem, G-d comes in anger and wrath to take revenge against the nations and sanctify His name which was profaned through Israel’s abject state.
It, therefore, says, “I had pity for My holy name which the house of Israel profaned among the nations, whither they came” (Ezek. 36:21). When the time for redemption arrives, G-d has pity on His holy people, profaned among the nations by Israel’s very presence in exile among them, living under them, subject to and dependent upon them. Even when the nations allow Israel to live in peace among them, Israel still depend on their goodness and tolerance, and that, too, is a Chilul Hashem. The fact that Israel live as a minority constantly dependent on the kindness of the nations, itself diminishes the glory of Israel, and of G-d, so to speak.
This is the intent of Targum’s rendering of the verse, “There [in the exile] you will serve other gods” (Deut. 28:36,64): “There you will serve nations that worship idols.” Israel, by being subject to these nations, even if this just means living under their sovereignty as a minority in the territory of the alien majority, magnify and exalt the gods and culture of the nations, and belittle G-d’s omnipotence, not to mention where the nations humiliate, murder and exterminate them.
G-d, thus, intends to blot out the Chilul Hashem among the nations, occurring through Israel, in the only way that the nations will understand, namely, Israel’s redemption and their victory over the nations who blasphemed G-d.
Therefore, although Israel are unworthy of redemption in terms of their deeds, which are insufficient, still, a certain “time” arrives in G-d’s calculations when He has compassion for His holy name, profaned among the nations.
“And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in the midst of them. The nations shall know that I am the L-rd, says the L-rd G-d, when I am sanctified through you before their eyes” (Ibid., v. 23).
Rashi comments, “What does this sanctification involve? ‘I will take you from among the nations.’” This is from verse 24 which follows: “I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and bring you into your own land.”
Chilul and Kiddush Hashem are opposites, and the ways that each is expressed are opposites as well. The non-Jew understands Israel’s exile and abject state as G-d’s inability to help His people, or, Heaven forbid, as G-d’s nonexistence. This is the greatest Chilul Hashem there is. It follows that only through Israel’s return to Eretz Yisrael and their being exalted and gaining power over the nations will those nations understand that, indeed, the L-rd is G-d, Supreme, Omnipotent King of Kings, and accept His sovereignty.
The exile, itself, in the eyes of the nations is the pinnacle of Chilul Hashem, whereas Israel’s return to Eretz Yisrael, the land from which they were exiled, and the establishment of a sovereign state triumphantly, against the will of the nations, is the pinnacle of Kiddush Hashem; the proof to the nations that, indeed, a G-d exists in Israel, and He is the Supreme Master and King of Kings. Thus, His might, valor and victory are revealed through the might, valor and victory of Israel.
The exile is the pinnacle and essence of Chilul Hashem. Indeed, the liquidation of the exile is a Kiddush Hashem, and regarding this mitzvah all of Israel are commanded.
Now, we finally understand the true meaning of the exile and its Chilul Hashem of national dimensions, and most of all, the reason for the rebirth of the Jewish state in our day. “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations” (Ezek. 36:22). Not because the Jewish People were worthy of it did the State of Israel rise up and come into being. Spiritually, the vast majority of Jews remained as before or were even worse off. The leaders of the people and the State did not even contemplate repentance, remaining confirmed heretics and rebels against G-d. Yet, this alters nothing, for the State was not established as a reward for Israel’s righteousness or good deeds.
The exile and everything bound up with it — Israel’s abject state, their defeats and persecutions, the gathering of crumbs from the table of others, and the incalculable bloodshed suffered by our fellow Jews — constitute a Chilul Hashem, a blasphemous mockery of Hashem, the G-d of Israel, for His “weakness and inability” to aid His people. Therefore, the Jewish state — the result of the return to Zion and the ingathering of the exiles, which affords the Jew a home, a majority in his land, sovereignty, an army, retribution to Israel’s enemies, and the exalting of His glory on the battlefield — constitutes the exact opposite, Kiddush Hashem! This is the proof, the renewed confirmation of G-d’s existence and of His dominion, of Divine Providence over the universe and over all His creations: “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all the countries, and bring you into your own land” (Ezek. 36:24).
“Where is their G-d?” Here He is, in all His splendor and majesty! In the return of a wandering people from the four corners of the earth to their land, in the revival of Israel’s military might, so shocking to all the nations of the world, in their valor and in their might.
“I shall be sanctified through you” (Ezek. 36:23). Through the sanctification of the Jew, G-d’s name is sanctified as well, and through the exaltation of the Jewish People, G-d’s name is exalted. This is the meaning of the creation and rising up of the Jewish state. This is Kiddush Hashem. This is the beginning of the complete redemption. This State of Israel is the beginning of G-d’s wrath against the nations who do not know Him and who have profaned His name with scorn and derision. It is time for your redemption. Sanctify My name!
However, there will be no “hasty” redemption (Isaiah 60:22), glorious and majestic, devoid of dreadful suffering, unless the Jewish People return to their Father in Heaven, accept His yoke, and chiefly, unless they trust in Him completely and are ready to sanctify His name through self-sacrifice.
The redemption which began despite our sins in order to sanctify G-d’s name before the nations in might and splendor, has, in the hands of an “ungrateful, unwise nation” (Deut. 32:6), turned into a profanation and a blasphemy carried out precisely by those whom G-d thought to redeem. If the beginning of the redemption and the state served to sanctify G-d’s name, then the only way to move on to “hasty” redemption is to continue reinforcing the Kiddush Hashem which the state’s very establishment constituted.
The Divine imperative is continued Kiddush Hashem through trusting in G-d, and liquidating the Chilul Hashem without fear of the non-Jew, without fear of flesh and blood. Every retreat, every submission, every concession to the non-Jew, every hand raised against the Jew, every attack, let alone murder, of a Jew in the Land, every taunt and curse by a non-Jew in the Land, is a Chilul Hashem. If such Chilul Hashem exists, it is many times more severe than any other type, for it occurs within the state which arose exclusively to eradicate Chilul Hashem. Now, instead of continuing to reinforce the Kiddush Hashem process, the Jewish People retreat and profane G-d’s name.
Whoever allows the non-Jew in Eretz Yisrael to rise up, profanes G-d’s name with terrible contempt. If G-d gave us large portions of Eretz Yisrael as part of the start of redemption, in order to sanctify His name through the most remarkable, mighty victories, and someone is later ready to concede parts of the Holy Land and hand them over to the nations, he profanes G-d’s name with disgraceful blasphemy. Whoever does not allow Jews to live everywhere in the Land, whoever ties their hands and prevents their taking the revenge of G-d and Israel against the nations who curse and revile G-d and His Messiah, profanes G-d’s name and profanes the great miracle and the powerful dream realized by G-d at the start of the redemption.
Whoever sees the rebirth of Eretz Yisrael and a Jewish state and understands that he can easily flee the defilement of the nations and the exile and move to the Holy Land; whoever knows that G-d has opened the last chapter of the existence of the world, which is approaching the end of the sixth thousand, and that G-d is beginning to sanctify His name, profaned among the nations, by returning Israel to their land, thereby preparing to blot out the exile, symbol of Chilul Hashem — whoever knows all this, yet remains among the nations and their defilements, loathing the delightful Land, profanes G-d’s name and His beloved land.
And whoever remains there out of fear and dread of the nations, or out of doubts and uncertainties regarding his livelihood or the dangers of the Land, thereby demonstrates total lack of faith in Hashem as the G-d of Israel, Supreme, Omnipotent King of Kings; and there is no Chilul Hashem more degrading, for it borders on atheism. Yet, all attempts to flee the challenge and mission which G-d placed on our necks as a dear and gladdening yoke will be to no avail.
(Condensed from the book, “The Jewish Idea” Vol.2; Ch 27, “The Final Redemption.”)
Today’s blog, and the next few which shall follow, are only for Diaspora Jews who truly want to know what Judaism is really all about. If you really want to know what it is to be a Jew, and who we are as a People, then read on. If you really want to know what our mission is as G-d’s chosen People, then take the time to understand the Haftora we read on Shabbat.
As we have written on several occasions, Judaism is more than eating bagels and keeping the Sabbath. Judaism is not a private, individual religious practice, like other religions. Judaism is the national constitution of the Nation of Israel. The Torah is filled not only with private commandments, such as which foods we can eat, and what actions are forbidden on Shabbat, but also with national commandments about conquering the Land of Israel, establishing a State, a Sanhedrin, a Jewish army, a Divine legal system and economy, as well as the laws of national worship, centered around Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. Only in the Land of Israel can the Jewish People fulfill its Divine mission of “From Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem.”
Any child can readily understand that in order to have your own nation, you have to have your own land. For example, you can’t have the country of France in America or New Zealand. Likewise, to be true to our national Jewish essence, G-d has given us our own Land, the Land of Israel. The Torah, and the national essence of the Jewish People, can only be fully realized in the Land of Israel.
In the exile, we are castrated Jews with a castrated Torah. Only in the Land of Israel, can the Jewish People and the Torah be complete.
The Haftorah, from the Book of Ezekiel, which we read on Shabbat, speaks about the terrible Chilul Hashem of the exile. Chilul Hashem means the Desecration of G-d. It is something that brings great dishonor to G-d. For instance, when a Jew is caught stealing billions of dollars, because he is a Jew, the international headlines create a grave Desecration of G-d, since everyone knows that we are His People. Simply put, it makes G-d of the Jewish People look bad.
So too, on a national level, when the Jewish People live in foreign lands amongst the gentiles, this causes a terrible Desecration of G-d, because the gentiles say, “Look at all the Jews here. G-d gave them the Land of Israel, but He was powerless to keep them there, so we were able to conquer their land and scatter them all over the globe.” Other gentiles say, “Look at the Jews here in America (Australia, England, France….). G-d gave them their own land, but they prefer ours!” This shameful situation brings great dishonor to G-d.
This is what the Prophet Ezekiel declares about the exiled Jews:
“And when they came to the foreign nations into which they came, they profaned My Holy Name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the L-rd, and they are gone out of His Land’” (Ezekiel, 36:20).
This means that just the fact that Jews are living in foreign lands is a Chilul Hashem, a terrible dishonor to G-d. Now the time comes when G-d puts an end to this disgrace and sanctifies His Name:
“And I will sanctify My great Name, which was desecrated amongst the nations, which you have profaned 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” (Ezekiel, 36:23).
How does G-d brings this sanctification about? Read on:
“For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries, and I will bring you into your own Land” (Ezekiel, 36:24).
Thus, the Prophet teaches that, as opposed to Jewish life in the Diaspora which brings disgrace upon the Jewish People and G-d, the ingathering of the exiles to the Land of Israel sanctifies G-d and elevates His honor in the eyes of the world.
Now that you understand the difference, I ask you the simple question: Do you want to be a part of the disgrace, or a part of the great sanctification? Do you want to be a castrated Jew, or a whole Jew? The choice is yours.
Thirty days before Pesach, we begin learning the halachot of the holiday. With all of Pesach’s many stringent laws, it is important to recall the simple meaning of the celebration, as it is recreated for us via the festive Seder night.
The Seder night, with its recounting of our birth as a nation, comes to teach us and our children that G-d wants us to live in the Land of Israel. It is as simple as that.
The Haggagah begins: “This year we are here (in Egypt, New York, Australia, England) – next year in the Land of Israel. This year we are slaves (in Egypt, California, Paris, South Africa) – next year free men (in our own country.)
If that isn’t enough for every six-year old to understand, the Seder concludes with the fervent hope: “Next year in Jerusalem!”
Can any lesson be clearer than this? But for some reason, even though we have been repeating it for 4000 years, even though we have El Al Airlines, the money for a ticket, and Nefesh B’Nefesh financial stipends for those needing aid, its message still hasn’t sunk in.
Why? Because the fleshpots of Egypt and America and Paris are very enticing for someone who only seeks the material aspects of life. But G-d demands more of a Jew. He wants us to put our material preoccupations aside, and to live in His Holy Land as holy Jews and as a holy Jewish NATION and this is something we can only do in our own Jewish Land, and not as scattered minorities in foreign places.
So, this month, while you are cleaning the chametz out of your homes and hearts, remember that the principle thing isn’t the wine, and the gefilte fish, and the Manischewitz chocolate chip macaroons, but rather the lesson of the Seder.
See you this year in Jerusalem!
I'm flattered. A bit unnereved. The responsibility awes me. But I'll do my best to answer your questions with the deep and sometimes hidden wisdom suitable to Purim, when the Jewish People accepted the Oral Torah once again.
If there is a delay in my response, it's because I've run out to the local grocery to buy some more beer. May it be the will of the Master of Disguises that I not err in the rendering of halachah, nor lead any person astray.
I recently received this letter and accompanying photos from an anonymous sender who insists that he has discovered the identity of “Mike from Vienna, Virginia.” I have edited out real names and places to avoid legal hassles.
Dear Mr. Fishman:
You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, except through your blog which I have now just discovered in the following way. Saturday night, I was having a drink in one of our local bars here in @@@@ when one of the fellas got a bit rowdy. He was throwing darts into a dartboard with deadly accuracy, and cursing with each throw, “I hate him! I hate him!” he kept repeating.
“Who do you hate?” I asked him.
“Fishy,” he said.
Finishing off a bottle of beer, he set it down next to another four empties on the table and hurled another dart straight into the bulls-eye.
“Who’s Fishy?” I asked.
“Fishface,” he replied.
Out of darts, he sat drunkenly down at the table. Suddenly, he burst out crying. “I hate his Israeli guts.” he said. “He humiliates me with every blog he writes. He makes me sound like a jerk. Because of him, the whole world thinks I’m a coward.”
“What blog is that?” I inquired.
“Israel National News, you peon!” he answered, shouting for another beer. “I’m going to kill him. You’ll see. I don’t lack the means. I didn’t spend half my life in the army for nothing. If I could kill a couple dozen Taliban in Afghanistan, and two dozen A-rabs in Iraq, I can surely knock off one lemming of an Israeli Jew.”
“To hell with them all!” he continued, gulping down half of his new beer. “To hell with the world. They didn’t want to read my website, so to hell with them all. Let them all nuke each other off the friggin map. Old Vienna Mike will have the last laugh. He’ll outlive them all.”
“How are you going to do that?” I asked him.
“On Vienna’s Mike’s Survival Ark, that’s how. What do you think about that?”
“You must be a real genius,” I said to him, to get on his good side. “I’d sure like to see it, if it really exists.”
So we made an appointment to meet the next day. Here are the pictures. He’s got enough food to survive for a year in his galley, along with all kinds of gas masks, water purifiers, Geiger counters, chemical suits, oxygen tanks, helmets, radiation antigens, and weapons.
So, Mr. Fishman, if you are the Fishy that he was talking about, please beware.