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Ask the Rabbi
News & Call-In with Tamar Yonah
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.
On Shabbat Zachor, every man and women of Israel is required to hear the Torah portion, “Remember what Amalek did to you….”
Elsewhere, we have described how Amalek’s plan was to weaken and strike at the Jewish People by drawing them into sexual sin.
The holy Sage and Kabbalist, Rabbi Tzaddok HaKohen of Lublin, explains that we read the portion of remembering Amalek before Purim in order to remind ourselves that our strength over our enemies depends on the holiness of our sexual lives. When this sanctity rises, then the impurity of Amalek falls, paving the way for its destruction on Purim ("Yisrael Kiddoshim," 8:27).
Today, the spirit of Amalek in the world is still trying to uproot the holiness of Israel by exporting all of its immoral culture, homosexuality, and pornography to the Holy Land. Throughout the Diaspora, the spirit of Amalek is working overtime to lure the Jews into sexual transgression via assimilation. Like their ancestors before them, these modern day sons of and daughters of Amalek are hoping that this spiritual pollution will sever our connection with the Almighty, leaving us vulnerable to their ever-evil designs of destroying our holy nation, may the Almighty foil their plans.
This is what we have to remember, and guard against, and fight with education and counseling, in order to repel this plague of spiritual pollution from our borders, from our streets, and from our homes, television screens, and computers.
We blot out the memory of Amalek by physically annihilating the likes of Hamas, Iran, Syria, Hizballah, Fatach, and the other sworn enemies of Israel, and by sanctifying our lives according to the dictates of the Torah.
In so doing, the L-rd G-d of Israel shall be One, and His Name shall be One over all of the earth.
One of my neighbors asked me to speak with his son, a young man of 35, who refuses to get married. He’s a nice fellow, but he walks around with a sneer on his nose, like he has some chip on his shoulder. Whenever I see him around our apartment building, I try to be friendly and exchange a few words. A few times, I spoke to him about guarding the Brit and invited him to come along on a Tikun, but he’s always dodged the issue.
One day, so he wouldn’t think his father put me up to it, I asked him if he could help me move a heavy dresser in our flat. We got to talking, and I asked him why he didn’t get married. At first, he gave me a brush off story about not finding the right woman, but when I probed deeper, the skeletons started to rattle.
“Why should I get married?” he said. “To fight with my wife all the time and yell at my kids like my parents do?”
In truth, his parents didn’t have the most peaceful marriage in the world. A few times a month, we hear them screaming at each other from their apartment in the building adjacent to ours. Obviously, they had problems, but who doesn’t? What it came down to was that he had been traumatized as a kid by his parents’ aggressive behavior and unconsciously feared that it would happen all over again in his marriage. On the surface, he offered other reasons why his dates were always a flop, always finding fault with the woman. One was too religious, another wasn’t religious enough; one was too fat, another was too much of a talker. No one could live up to his demand for perfection.
Not wanting him to feel like I was putting him on the analyst’s couch, I spoke to him about the supreme importance of the mitzvah of getting married, and about the importance of having children to fulfill his destiny as a Jew. I spoke to him about the difference between egotistically living for oneself, as opposed to the more ideological goal of raising a family.
“Only the Almighty is perfect,” I told him. “Down here on Earth, everyone has problems. Every marriage has quarrels. All women are cuckoo in one way or another. Children get sick. There are difficulties at school. The plumbing leaks. Sometimes, it’s hard to pay the bills. But those aren’t reasons not to marry.”
What is his situation analogous to? To the sweet talking “Jews For Galut” missionaries, who complain and grumble about life in Israel and refuse to perform the great mitzvah of living in the Land. If they were to shut up and keep their fetishes and fears to themselves, this wouldn’t be so bad, but when they vomit out their poison on the web, trying to discourage other Jews from coming to Israel, this is a heresy that must be condemned with all force, so that they don’t succeed in leading other Jews astray into worshipping life in foreign lands, trying to blend in with the goyim.
They are like people who refuse to come to the synagogue on Purim to hear the Megilla because the kids are too raucous and noisy. Or like the perfectly healthy people who refuse to eat matzah on Pesach because it gives them constipation. Or the reformers who don't want to give up their weekends for the restrictions of Shabbat. They are the “baale terutzim,” the masters of excuses, the peddlers of deceit.
You can talk to them until you are blue in the face, but they can’t understand a word you say. Because the ears which heard “Shema Yisrael” at Mount Sinai have been sealed, due to their revolt against G-d and His Torah.
Ever notice that the Israel National News articles that seem to draw the most talkbacks are about homosexuality, missionaries, or Internet porn? I am not sure what that indicates about INN’s readership, but I’ve decided to tackle all three of these controversial subjects at once to see if I can establish a new Guinness world record.
Now I don’t mean to imply that all homosexuals are missionaries, or that all missionaries are homosexuals. If someone does happen to be a missionary and a homosexual, this is double bad news. But the opposite may be more like it. After all, the first missionary was a big womanizer. That’s why he was kicked out of yeshiva.
It is explained in the Talmud that the first missionary, the “Nazerethite,” was a student of Rabbi Yehushua ben Prachia, one of the great Sages of the time and leader of the Great Assembly. Traveling together on a journey, they stopped at a lodge on the way. After a lady innkeeper attended to their needs in a diligent fashion, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Prachia praised her for honoring Torah scholars in the appropriate manner. Pure and saintly as he was, he remarked in an innocent fashion, “How pleasant this innkeeper is.” The commentator Rashi explains this by stating, “In her deeds.” However, the “Nazerethite” jumped up and exclaimed, “But her eyes aren’t pretty!”
When Rabbi Yehoshua ben Prachia heard his student say this, he proclaimed, “Evil person! You are preoccupied with this!?” meaning looking at women. And he drove him away in the most severe manner, as the Talmud records, “He thrust the Nazerethite away with both hands” (Sotah, 47A).
In his lectures about the Mashiach at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook, of blessed memory, whose yahrtzeit is next week, explained that the Sages deliberately stated that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Prachia “thrust the Nazerethite away with both hands,” as opposed to pushing him away with the left hand and drawing him close with the right, in the usual educational manner. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Prachia reacted in this emphatic way in thrusting the “Nazerethite” away to show that he was clearly not the Messiah.
See how far looking at women can cause a man to fall. Has there ever been a greater destroyer of Israel than this one? In the words of the Rambam:
“All of the Prophets spoke of the Messiah as the redeemer of Israel, and as its savior, who would gather their dispersed, and strengthen their observance of the commandments, while this one caused the annihilation of Israel by the sword, and caused their remnants to be scattered and scorned. He caused the Torah to be altered, and brought the majority of the world to err, and to worship a god other than the L-rd” (Rambam, Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 11:4, see the uncensored edition of Mossad HaRav Kook Publications).
With the distressing news that a new missionary center is being opened in Jerusalem, let this be your answer to anyone who tries to persuade you that the “Nazerethite” is the Messiah. If anyone tries, you have my permission to thrust him away with both hands.
Today, the seventh of Adar, is the yahrtzeit of Moshe Rabainu, may his memory be for a blessing. The greatest disappointment and tragedy of his life was in not being allowed to enter the Land of Israel. For over forty years, he strove with all of his heart, with all of his soul, and with all of his might to bring the Jews to Israel, but he himself was denied this unsurpassed privilege, honor, and reward. More than anything else in the world, he wanted to come to Israel. He begged G-d, over and over, hundreds of times, to allow him to enter Eretz Yisrael, to prostrate himself in its dust and perform the commandments unique to the Holy Land. “I don’t have to be the leader of the Jewish people,” he declared. “I don’t have to be their rabbi or king. Turn me into an ant if You want, and let me crawl into the Promised Land on all fours.”
Moshe was our teacher back then, and he is our teacher today. Can there be a clearer example of how we should relate to the mitzvah of living in Israel? Just as Moshe longed to dwell in the Land, so should we. Just as Moshe begged G-d to grant him this privilege, so should we. Just as Moshe wasn’t afraid of the heathens, and giants, and enemies in the Land, so we shouldn’t fear them today. Just as Moshe understood that Judaism without Eretz Yisrael cannot be complete, so should we. Just as Moshe understood that the Nation of Israel cannot fulfill its Divine calling in foreign lands so should we. Just as Moshe understood that a Jew cannot be true to G-d and the Torah without being in the Land of the Torah, so should we. Just as Moshe understood that the harshest punishment in the world was to remain behind in exile, outside the Land of Israel, so should we. Just as Moshe was ready to give up all prestige and honor, in order to come to Eretz Yisrael, so should we.
May his memory be for a blessing.
Question: I am 32. For several years I have been looking for a wife, but it never gets anywhere because I don’t feel any strong desire to be with women. I confided this to a friend, and he took me to a group meeting with men who have homosexual leanings, and who are learning to be proud of it. Apparently, this is my situation too. Is there anything I can do to strengthen my attraction to the opposite sex so that I will be able to marry?
(by Rabbi Elyakam Levanon, Rosh Yeshiva, Elon Moreh)
To begin, we must note that there is a desire for unnatural relationships. The Torah mentions three different types of sexual relationships. The first is between a man and woman, and this is limited to a relationship sanctified by marriage and the tenets of Jewish Law. The Torah also mentions the possibility of a man being with a beast and rejects this outright as being strictly forbidden. Our Sages teach that Bilaam polluted himself in this manner. The third relationship mentioned is between two men, which the Torah absolutely forbids. Because the prohibition is recorded, we can assume that there exists a desire for this type of connection. Nevertheless, the Torah does not allow any leniency in this matter whatsoever.
For us, who strive to be faithful to the path of the Torah, this means that even though there may be a lust of this sort, we have the wherewithal to overcome it, just like with every other prohibition of the Torah. For instance, there is a prohibition of eating milk products and meat together. While a cheeseburger may be very tasty to the palette, we nevertheless overcome any desire we have for eating combinations of this nature. The Midrash teaches that we shouldn’t say, “I don’t have the possibility of eating milk and meat together, or I don’t have the possibility of engaging in incestuous acts.” Rather, we should say, “I have the capability of doing these things, but what can I do? My Father in Heaven has forbidden them to me.”
The Torah teaches us to chose good and to distance ourselves from evil. Furthermore, the Torah defines for us what is good and what is evil. There is a natural inclination in the world that pushes us toward engaging in evil actions, but through the strength that the Torah gives us, we overcome our evil inclination and chose to do the proper things instead.
This preface comes to let you know that you should not feel abnormal for the situation you describe. But just as we relate to other lusts, we must relate to this lust in the same manner. Going to a meeting with other men who share this same inclination seems to me to be a negative thing to do. Meets of this sort can only be beneficial if their intent is to help the person overcome his problem. Thus an overweight person can attend a gathering of other overweight people if the intent is to support one another in undertaking a diet. But if the intent of the meeting is to encourage one another that being overweight is healthy and beautiful, then something is wrong.
Someone with an addiction to cigarettes, or alcohol, or drugs, can benefit from a support group when the intent is to break free of the addiction. If people with homosexual feelings come together to overcome their lusts by supporting one another to align their lives with the Torah, the can be certainly beneficial. However, if the group assembles to encourage homosexual feelings and give them justification and legitimacy, this is a negative encounter, because we are obligated to overcome our weaknesses and not give in to them. It is a grave mistake to take weaknesses and turn them into kosher ideologies.
You don’t have to consider yourself weird or some kind of social leper, but rather like any other person who has negative inclinations. Someone who walks through a supermarket and thinks about stealing something, he is a normal person who must overcome his inclination.
The way to overcome negative inclinations like the one you describe is consulting with a counselor experienced with this problem, or by attending a support group whose goal is to re-channel negative desires to the proper path, which is the male-female relationship that leads to marriage. From my experience, I can attest to cases of men like you who received counseling and guidance, and who are happily married today with families of their own. The main things is not to accept the negative inclination as the way things must be, not to say that this is who you are, but rather to summon the courage and strength to reach the true solution through the guidance and path of the Torah.