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.
Holy brothers in Israel, when you go to the mikvah each morning for your holy immersions, when you take a shower, be sure that you don’t waste water.
How unfortunate it is when a holy brother, whose love of G-d brings him to strive for added saintliness by purifying himself in the mikvah each day before his prayers, treats himself to a long ten-minute shower, as if he were vacationing in some luxurious health spa. Why waste so much water in a time of drought, when just seeing the dry banks of the Kinneret can bring a person to tears?
And while we are in the mikvah, a few reminders. The mikvah is not an exercise pool. Do your immersions and make way for others. Also, it isn’t the locker room of a health club where you can sit around naked and gab about politics and the like. In fact, a person shouldn’t talk in a mikvah at all. And be careful not to look at another person’s nudity. Gazing at someone else’s brit is a serious offence that can damage one’s eyes and lower one’s level of holiness. People who strut around the mikvah like peacocks on parade without covering their nakedness are transgressing the precept, “Thou shall not put a stumbling block before a blind man.”
Since we mentioned locker rooms, a memory comes to mind, scores of years ago when I was in high school in America, before it became standard medical practice to circumcise all babies after their birth. In those days, back then, in the locker room after sports, the majority of students walked around like uncircumcised Philistines. Only the handful of Jews were circumcised. The difference was obvious to all – just like Hashem intended it to be, to let everyone know that we were His chosen holy people. Today, in the locker rooms and health clubs of America and Europe, the distinction is no longer apparent, and it is no wonder that assimilation is on a perilous ascent.
Of course, the hospital circumcision of the gentiles isn’t real, and we are still the ONE AND ONLY holy people. But having a holy Jewish circumcision, in the proper manner when we are eight days old, isn’t enough to preserve our Jewish future. We have to live holy lives as well, separating ourselves from the heathens. That’s why we have our own Land, as it says in the Torah, “It is a nation that should dwell alone, and not be reckoned amongst the peoples” (BaMidbar, 23:9).
With a student of Rabbi Kahane in the new Knesset, let’s hope that it comes to pass soon.
This is for my brothers and sisters in Israel to remind ourselves how lucky we are to be living in Eretz HaKodesh. As we have written many times, the Holy Land is the Holy Land, no matter who is the Prime Minister, or how long you have to wait on line when you need something at the Ministry of the Interior. If only because Israel is G-d’s Chosen Land, it is worth living here more than any other place in the world.
This is just for Israelis because my brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, whom I love very much, get angry at me when I remind them of the compromise they are living. For instance, in the Torah portion we read this past Shabbat, we learn about the Hebrew slave who doesn’t want to cease serving his master when his years of servitude have ended. Because he prefers serving a mortal, rather than be free to serve G-d, his ear, which heard the commandment “I am the L-rd your G-d,” is nailed to the doorpost of the door (Shemot, 21:5, Rashi). Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook, of blessed memory, would refer to this sad situation when referring to Jews who preferred to remain in the exile, subservient to the governments and cultures of their gentile countries, rather than coming to live in the Land of the Jews. “These people say, ‘I love my master, the gentile,’ he would explain, paraphrasing the Biblical verse. “I will not go out free.”
Let me give you another example. Our Sages inform us that the Jews of Egypt merited to survive their bondage under their foreign masters because they guarded their names, their dress, their language, and the ways of Jewish modesty. They didn’t give their children goyisha names like Mohammed, Tutenkamen, Mark, Chris, Sally, or Jane. They walked around proudly with kippot and tzitzit, not mimicking the fashions of the goyim. They continued to speak Hebrew, rather than Egyptian, English or French. And they stayed away from the orgies of their Egyptian neighbors, and refrained from watching the Academy Awards.
If you think it is an inconsequential thing for a Jew to speak Hebrew, you are mistaken. The Hebrew language was given to us by G-d. He wants us to speak in the Lashon HaKodesh (Holy Tongue) because we are a Holy People. Hebrew is Divinely geared to the Jewish mind and Jewish way of thinking. A Jewish child who grows up speaking Hebrew sees the world, right to left, through Jewish glasses. A child who grows up speaking English sees the world backwards, from left to right, through gentile glasses. His orientation to the Torah is distorted. If you don’t believe a has-been Hollywood screenwriter like me, look at Rashi. On the verse in the Shema, “And you shall teach them to your children to speak of them,” (Devarim, 11:19), he writes:
“On this it has been said, when the child begins to talk, the father should speak to him in the Holy Tongue and teach him Torah, and if he doesn’t do this, it is like he buries him” (Rashi, there).
When I write these things, my brothers and sisters in the Diaspora get angry at me, even though I love them dearly and have their very best interests at heart. Because I know when they get to Heaven with their suitcases from America, Australia, and England, the Guard at the celestial gate is going to ask them why they didn’t live in Israel.
“What does it matter?” they’ll claim. “We kept the mitzvos.”
“You kept the mitzvos,” he’ll answer, “But you didn’t keep the greatest mitzvah of all.”
We wrote that sexual transgression prevents rain from falling in Israel. We said that Thursday night’s mass prayer at the Kotel was to atone for sexual transgressions. Look what happened. It has been raining buckets ever since.
Sheer coincidence, right? Pure happenstance. You’ve got to be kidding! For sure, our prayers brought the rain.
For all of you disbelievers out there in cyberspace, let me explain.
Sometimes, people refuse to accept the obvious simply because they don’t understand. Take the mitzvah for a Jew to live in the Land of Israel. Even though it is such an obvious thing, the prerequisite for an independent Jewish Nation, and the foundation of all of the Torah, people who haven’t learned in depth about the life-giving connection between the Jewish People and Eretz Yisrael, erroneously think that by living in the Diaspora they are performing G-d’s will just the same.
So too regarding the connection between sexual transgression and rain. T’shuva has nothing to do with it, they maintain. Others insist that the US Naval Weather Station in the North Pole predicted two weeks ago that rain would fall in Israel this Shabbat, without any connection to Thursday night’s prayer. Well, maybe there was such a forecast. G-d brought that about too, so that the non-believers would have free choice to believe what they want. If people want to believe that the rain fell simply because of the international wind and cloud patterns, just as the US Naval North Pole station predicted, then they are free to wander along in their darkness. And for believers who want to see G-d’s intervention in everything that transpires in the life of the Jewish People, then He arranged for the mass prayer to be held just a few hours before the torrential rain so that the connection would be obvious to all.
Therefore let me explain in the simplest of terms so that no one will accuse me of teaching Kabbalah to the uninitiated masses.
Divine blessings, whether for rain, livelihood, health, national security and the like, flow to the world through a series of celestial channels known as “sefirot.” The final channel that transports the Divine blessing to the world is known as the “Yesod.” This celestial system can be illustrated by a funnel.
Whatever liquid is poured into the funnel from above must descend through the funnel proper and pass through the spout before being released into the vessel that is waiting below to gather the flow. Now when it comes to the flow of Divine blessing to the world, the spout of the funnel parallels the channel of the “Yesod.” To reach us, everything, whether the Divine blessings of rain, livelihood, marital happiness, or health, have to pass through the “Yesod.”
Because G-d created man as a microcosm of the world, everything contained in the spiritual blueprint of the world is contained in him. For instance, the right arm is associated with the Divine attribute and sefirah of “Chesed.” The left arm is associated with the Divine sefirah of “Gevorah.” And the sexual organ is associated with the “Yesod.” Because the “Yesod” is the spout of the celestial funnel that channels blessing to the world, blemishes which are caused by sexual transgression, also damage the channel of the “Yesod,” clogging up the spout of the funnel. When the spout is repeatedly damaged by sexual transgression, or by not carefully adhering to the laws of family purity, known as "Taharat HaMishpachah," the funnel becomes broken or clogged. Not only can’t our prayers ascend, also Divine blessings can’t get through the proper conduit to come down and reach us.
On a personal level, this clog in the pipe can cause livelihood problems, problems with children, or illness, may G-d have mercy. On the national level, if the spout of the funnel is damaged, then there can be a shortage of rain, an economic depression, or war.
When this happens, it is time for Roto-Router, or Drano, or an emergency call to the plumber to come and clean out the pipes. In Judaism, this is known as T’shuva (repentance) and prayer. In Kabbalistic terms, it is known as “Tikun HaYesod,” (the rectification of the “Yesod”).
The prayer last Thursday night at the Kotel, led by the holy Tzaddik, Rabbi Leon Levi, was a mass “Tikun HaYesod.” Because the effect of our prayers was multiplied by an atomic chain reaction of the myriads of supplicants who were there, compounded by the people who joined along from all over the world via the Internet hook-up, enhanced by the special favorable time of the climax of “Shovavim,” coupled with the fact that the intersecting point of the celestial “Yesod” with his world is the place of the Jerusalem Temple, where we were all standing – all of this blasted away the impurities and blemishes that our sins had caused in the spout of the funnel, and with G-d’s infinite kindness and compassion, opened the clogged channel and re-released the flow of blessing to the Jewish People – which found concrete expression in the downpour of rain.
While the “Shovavim” period has passed, G-d accepts the prayers of a broken and penitent heart all through the year – so if you missed out on Thursday night, it is not too late. A powerful “Tikun HaYesod” prayer is now available in English for those who have trouble with Hebrew. Yes, it is long and takes some time to recite, but what can you do? We have been clogging the pipes up for a long time now with our mistakes, so if we have to put some extra effort in our prayers for forgiveness, it isn’t the end of the world. In fact, for a true penitent, it isn’t the end of the world, but rather an amazing, wonderful, miraculous new beginning.
In addition to the priceless personal value of tonight's all-night Tikun [recitification] prayers at the Kotel, it has tremendous national significance as well. According to the secrets of Torah, the missiles, lack of rain, economic hardship, traffic accidents, fraternal division, and national confusion and weakness in Israel have their root cause in sexual transgression.
As the famed Kabbalist, Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzera, has written: “According to the holy Zohar, the verse: 'Be afraid of the sword, for wrath over sins brings the sword' (Iyov, 19:20) refers to this matter. Both the Rishonim (early rabbincal authorities) and Achronim (later rabbinical authorities) have stated that the majority of man’s sufferings, whether through pestilence, the sword, or famine result from sexual transgressions."
How can you help? By coming to the Kotel tonight for the last “Tikun” of the “Shovavim” period. As we have written, the six-week “Shovavim” period is considered the most favorable time for repentance over sexual transgressions. Violations of sexual prohibitions, including spilling semen in vain, carry stiff Divine penalties, including death at the hands of Heaven and dying before one's time, G-d forbid. On a national level, sexual sins cut off the flow of blessing that comes down to the Jewish People from Heaven, creating all sorts of national hardship and calamity.
The all-night gathering will begin at about 11:30PM. Since a few thousand people are expected to show up, come early to get a seat.
Rabbi Leon Levi will be leading the prayers. Bring your Tefillin and a towel for a pre-dawn mikvah. For women, the newly-renovated women’s section of the inner Western Wall rotunda will be open. For those of you who can’t attend in person, the mass Tikun should be broadcast live at the Kotel website, by going to the "Wilson's Arch" in the Webcam section. And for those of you who still have trouble with long Hebrew texts, you can find a powerful “Tikun HaYesod” supplication in English on our jewishsexuality.com website, which you can recite simultaneously at the time of the all-night Tikun.
Don’t pass up of this golden opportunity. Tonight is a unique chance to win a Divine personal and national pardon. So come. Or join in with the crowd via the Internet, and thus help atone for all of the terrible things the Internet has caused the Jewish People by leading people astray after sexual temptation.
I’ve had it with Diaspora Jews. They are so uptight and sensitive. The slightest criticism drives them crazy. Whatever I write offends them. So do yourselves a favor, my friends, and stop reading this blog. From now on it’s just for Israelis.
For two years, out of a passionate love in my heart, I’ve invested hundreds of hours, without receiving a nickel in return, to help you see your blindness, and to enlighten you to what Judaism is really about.
But you prefer wandering around in your darkness, clinging to your suitcase of excuses.
As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
So, let’s let bygones be bygones. I am sorry if I cracked your armor, exposed your delusions, and made you face the paucity of your rationalizations for loving your foreign lovers and foreign lands.
Please don’t read this blog anymore. If you want honey, you can find it in a supermarket. From now on this blog is for Israelis only. If I write about galut, it’s not meant for you, but rather to remind us in Israel how thankful we should be to Hashem for letting us live in His Holy Land.