Middle East 4:15 AM 3/7/2014
Inside Israel 1:14 AM 3/7/2014
Middle East 3:45 AM 3/7/2014
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.
Imagine if Moses were to come to America today with the mission of bringing the Jews to Israel. Chances are that his call would be met by deaf ears. Let’s face it - outside of a few weirdoes, who would listen? It would be interfering with their plans, their schooling, their careers, their businesses, their golf games and tennis lessons.
Some would question his authority. Others would doubt that G-d had really sent him. Liberal and Reconstructionist Jews would answer, like Pharoah, “Who’s Hashem that I should listen to him?” Others would laugh at Moses’s Biblical garments and staff. Probably most of them would tell him to get lost.
“Aliyah is suicide,” some would tell him, like the Spies and followers of Korach of old.
Not that it would ruffle Moses. After all, he had witnessed the very same scenario before, when he came to take the Jews out of Egypt. Back then, only a fifth of the Jews agreed to follow him to the Land of Israel. Four-fifths of the Egypt-loving Jews died in the plague of darkness.
The Torah describes it as darkness that could be felt (Shemot, 10:21). The darkness was so thick, you could literally reach out your hand and feel it. Rashi says that Hashem brought the plague of darkness upon Egypt “because there were Jews in that generation who were wicked and they did not want to come out of Egypt, and they died in the three days of darkness, in order that the Egyptians should not see their fall and say, ‘They too are smitten as we are’” (Shemot, 10: 22). To avoid the great embarrassment that His people, the Children of Israel, did not want to go home to the Land of Israel, G-d brought a thick, tangible darkness over Egypt so that the goyim wouldn’t see this terrible disgrace.
Unfortunately this same dense darkness has enveloped Diaspora Jews today. It is a darkness so thick, you can actual feel it. Olim, Jews who have made aliyah, and who go back to America or France or England to visit relatives, know what I mean. After speaking with fellow Jews there for a few minutes, you get the creepy feeling that they are totally out of touch with reality. They think they know what’s going on, but they don’t know what’s going on at all. You can talk about aliyah until you are blue in the face and they don’t understand a thing. Their darkness is so dense, they can’t grasp what you are saying. What is really important to the Jewish People, they don’t think is important at all. And what’s not important at all, like the new President, or the new Clint Eastwood movie, or their new car, they talk about like it was the only thing that mattered.
Whenever I have to go there, I get the feeling that I am in a gigantic Alzheimer’s ward, where the patients have forgotten who they are.
I’m not talking about devoted INN addicts, who click on every day to see what’s happening “b’Aretz.” I am talking about your average assimilated, Haredi, or Modern Orthodox Jew. They’ve forgotten Jerusalem. Washington D.C. is their capital. America is their homeland. Judaism is their religion, not their nationality. They are Americans first. The proof is that hearing the “Star Spangled Banner” at baseball games gives them goose bumps. Their children pledge allegiance to the American flag. Their forefathers are Betsy Ross and George Washington. If Moses himself came and tried to persuade them that the Land of Israel was their home, and not America, or Australia, or Mexico, they’d look at him like he was nuts.
That’s the meaning of darkness that you can feel.
I am not blaming them. The darkness of materialism is so great, who can fight against it? And there is nobody there to teach them about true Judaism and the centrality of Eretz Yisrael. At best, Jewish life there revolves around the annual Federation dinner, or the shul, not around rebuilding our nation in Israel. Instead of working to bring an end to the exile, they endeavor to lengthen it by strengthening their communities there. That’s darkness “mamash.”
“Tikun HaYesod” means rectifying the great damage caused by sexual transgression. Revered and saintly Rabbis throughout the ages, from the Masters of Kabbalah to Halachic giants such as the Chofetz Chaim, have written that the majority of illnesses, hardships, disasters, and wars that befall the individual Jew, and the Jewish Nation as a whole, stem from sexual wrongdoing.
Since the beginning of the six-week “Shovavim” period, placards have been pasted on billboards all over the country, announcing special “Tikun HaYesod” prayer gatherings to atone for sexual transgressions such as m@st#rb@t!%n, premarital-sex, sexual relations with non-Jews, adultery, and the like. This morning, across for our local grocery store, I noticed that one of these “Tikun HaYesod” posters had been covered up by an election poster for the Likud.
Look at the bottom of the poster, under Bibi, where the Hebrew words of the original poster for “Tikun HaYesod” can still be seen. It looks like Bibi is calling on people to join him in a “Tikun HaYesod” get together! Would it only be true that Bibi, or some other Israeli Prime Minister, be the master of ceremonies, or the honored guest, at a “Tikun HaYesod” prayer gathering, leading the Jewish People to national repentance over sexual sins!
It would bring the Mashiach right away, as we say at the end of prayers every morning: “And a redeemer will come to Zion and to those in Yaakov who return from sin, says the L-rd” (Yishayahu, 59:20) – who return from this sin specifically.
This is also the meaning of the words that follow, “As for Me, this is My BRIT-covenant with them, says the L-rd” (Ibid. See also, “Likutei Halachah, Tefillin 2, 11-12).
This is the path to hasten the coming of Mashiach – through Tikun HaBrit, when we repent over our sexual sins (See the Commentary of the Gaon of Vilna to the “Tikunei Zohar,” Tikun 21, Folio 56, Column 3).
If Bibi would include this on his platform, I’d vote for him for sure!
There are people of little faith amongst us, who, out of their personal neurosis, and lack of understanding, ridicule the secrets of Torah, upon which the entire Torah stands. Some call themselves professors and teach university courses on Biblical Criticism. Others write poisonous talkbacks and try to draw people to heretical websites, much like missionaries and Jews for Jesus. Perhaps, to judge them in a positive light, they do so in reaction to phony Madonnas and their Svengali maestros, but when they negate all of the secrets of Torah and belittle the great masters of Kabbalah throughout the ages, lovers of G-d and fearers of His Name, this heresy cannot be condoned.
It has already been pointed out on this blog that there are four levels to the Torah, the Pashat, the Remez, the Drush, and the Sod. These four levels are known as “Pardes,” meaning orchard, from the initial letters of the levels, P-R-D-S. If someone rejects the level of Sod, which are the secrets of the Torah, the remaining initial letters are P-R-D, or “Pered,” which means a mule that cannot reproduce. Thus King David prays in his Psalms, “Be not like a horse or a mule that have no understanding” (Tehillim, 32:9). These poor souls belong to the spiritually and intellectually castrated amongst us, who have no understanding or sensitivity to the most splendid beauties of the Torah.
It has never been the intention of this blog to promote the mass study of Kabbalah, which can only be learned with the guidance of a serious Torah scholar, seeped in the mysteries, and by serious students of Torah who dedicate to themselves to a stringent course of moral refinement and the love and fear of G-d.
However, no Rabbi of any worth will deny the legitimacy of the Kabbalah and the plethora of teachings that can be gleaned from the holy Zohar. From the time of our Forefathers down till our day, the greatest of Rabbis, the princes of Torah, cherished the teachings and traditions of Kabbalah, from the Prophets of Israel to Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the Ramban, the Maharal, the Arizal, Rabbi Haim Vital, the Ramcal, the Gaon of Vilna, the Baal HaTanya, the Baal Shem Tov, Rebbi Nachman of Breslov, Rabbi Yaacov M’Emden, and a long long list of other holy scholars.
Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook, who taught us to see the Redemption of Israel unfolding in our times, was a master of Halachah and Kabbalah, two facets of Torah which go together, hand-in-hand, like the Jewish People and G-d. Regarding the book of the holy Zohar, ridiculed and rejected by the mules, Rabbi Kook writes that it is precisely the teachings of the Zohar that will luminate our path to Redemption (Orot, Orot HaTechiya, 57):
“Now, when the final salvation is imminent, and the demand of seeking the light of G-d, of seeking exalted spiritual redemption, of streaming to G-d and his goodness, increases and grows. Now, the times require acquiring the inner Torah, whose holy visions cannot begin to be heard but by the ascent of the soul and the exaltation of its strength in the light of the highest, purest life. A growing number of righteous Jews whose hearts have been touched by G-d, from this Divine camp will come the power that gives grace, the light of life and the pride of greatness to the entire inner life force of the national renaissance in the Land of Israel. The Book of the Zohar, which breaks new ways, making a road in the desert, a path in the wilderness, it and all of its teachings are ready to open doors of Redemption. ‘Since the people of Israel are destined to taste of the Tree of Life, which is the Book of the Zohar, they will emerge from exile with mercy’” (See Zohar, Vol. 3 124B. Translation of Rabbi Kook by Bezalel Naor from his translation of “Orot”).
These are the words of Rabbi Kook, a true prince of Torah. In conclusion, my dear friends, I hope you will listen to the princes of our holy Torah, and not to the mules.
The thing that distinguishes the Jewish People from all other nations is the Covenant between the Jewish People and G-d. This Covenant, or Brit, as it is called in Hebrew, was first established between our forefather, Avraham, and the Holy One Blessed Be He. As we have explained on many occasions, this Covenant is not merely keeping the commandment of Brit Milah (circumcision), but also safeguarding the holiness of our sexual lives. This is the foundation of the Jewish People. In return for our keeping our half of the Covenant, G-d gives us the Land of Israel. Our settlement of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) is intrinsically tied up with the purity of our sexual lives.
Let’s take a look in the Torah at some of the things we have missed since the start of the war. Remember the dreams of Yosef – how everyone in the family had to bow down to him?
Since Yosef is identified as the Tzaddik (righteous one) who guarded the Brit of sexual holiness by refusing to have relations with Potifar’s wife, this dream is telling us that all of the other elements comprising the Jewish People must take a second seat to Yosef and “bow down” to the all-important characteristic of sexual holiness which is to be the supreme factor in a Jew’s relationship with G-d. That’s right – the attribute that most characterizes the Jewish People is not eating bagels and lox, but our sexual holiness.
After Yosef rises to power in Egypt, when he finally reveals his true identity to his brothers, they are so shocked, they cannot believe that the bearded Egyptian viceroy before them is their long lost brother, who was a clean shaven youth when they threw him into a pit. So Yosef bids them to come closer to him and, as Rashi and the Midrash explain, he shows them his brit milah (male sexual organ) to show them he is a Jew. The Zohar teaches that Yosef was also explaining to them on a deeper level, “This is how I rose to kingship in Egypt - by guarding the holiness of the Brit.”
Later, when Yaakov makes Yosef swear that he will bury him in the Land of Israel, and not in Egypt, Yaakov has Yosef take the oath by placing his hand under the place of his father’s Brit. Strange. Didn’t he have some holy book or parchment that Yosef could have sworn by?
The fact is that the place of the Brit has the holiness of a Torah scroll. As Rabbi Leon Levi explains, putting ones Brit into a foreign place is like throwing a Torah scroll into the garbage, G-d forbid. As the Zohar states, our forefathers attained their exalted spiritual status precisely because of the holiness of their sexual lives.
Our Sages explain that our forefather, Yaakov, demanded that his sons bury him in Eretz Yisrael because he didn’t want them to have an excuse for staying in Egypt, as if to watch over their father’s grave. Yaakov wanted his children, and the Jews for all generations to come, to understand that the Land of Israel was their one and only home, and not Egypt, New York, or Australia.
As is known to students of the secrets of Torah, the Jewish People had to descend to Egypt in order to rectify the sexual sins of the world. Without going into the details in this blog, the first verse of the book of “Shemot” uses the present tense of the Hebrew word for “come” when it says: “Now these are the names of the Children of Israel who came (come) into Egypt.” Rabbi Leon explains that the use of the present tense teaches that every year, at this time of the year, the Jewish People are given a unique chance to rectify their sexual sins, which place us in an exile from G-d, just as we were in exile back then. This is the understanding behind the special rectifications and prayers of the six week period of “Shovavim” that we are in the midst of now. Every week in Israel, large congregations of Jews, singles and married people alike, gather together for fasting and “Shovavim” prayers, known as “Tikun HaYesod,” to rectify sexual sins. If you haven’t tried it yet, this is the time to take advantage of this special Heavenly offer.
For now, we will end this blog with Hashem’s very first communication with Moshe, at the burning bush, where He states the goal of the upcoming Exodus. “I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of Egypt, to bring them up out of that land, to a good and large Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey” (Shemot, 3:8).
With his very first speech to Moshe, G-d is informing him, and the Jewish People for all time to come, that He wants us to live in the Land of Israel, and not in Egypt, or Monsey, or Manchester, or Melbourne, or Marseilles.
Get the message, guys?
What a coincidence that the Kedima government went to war just before elections, after not responding to missile attacks on Israel for years. And what a coincidence that the Kedima government is looking to swap hundreds of imprisoned Hamas murderers for the release of Gilad Shalit - just before the elections. What a coincidence!
The only problem is that released terrorists kill again. The Almagor Terror Victims Association states that at least 180 Israelis have been killed by released terrorists.
Releasing more Hamas killers now will be prize for terror, a great victory for Hamas, and it will serve to encourage the kidnapping of more Jews the world over. I am against it. What about you?