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Ask the Rabbi
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 23, 5767, 5/11/2007
A reader protested that this week’s raging fire in Los Angeles had nothing to do with the Jews. As a special treat for Shabbat, we are going to have a guest speaker answer, the world's greatest blogger. His name if G-d. In case you have never heard of Him, He decides what happens in the world, whether it be floods in New Orleans, hurricanes in Florida, tidal waves along nude beaches in Thailand, and forest fires in LA.
Since the first portion of this week’s Torah reading, "Behar," deals exclusively with the Land of Israel, and not with the Jews of the exile, we will skip over it for now. While the Jews in Israel will be busy with the mitzvah of Shmitta this year, with Otzer Beit Din, Heter Mechira, buying permissible foods, and working the land in permissible ways - b’kitzor, living a complete Jewish life - the Jews in the Diaspora will be able to continue their golf games and tennis lessons uninterrupted. To compensate, they have other mitzvahs to celebrate, like Ground Hog Day, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, President’s Day, and the Fourth of July.
Let’s take a look at the Torah portion of "Behukoti" and see what G-d Himself has to say. The legendary Moroccan Kabbalist, Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzera, grandfather of the Baba Sali, explains that all of the terrible punishments mentioned in this Torah portion stem from sexual transgressions, when the Jewish People break the Covenant, also known as the Brit. Readers interested in his powerful commentary, based on secrets of Torah, can find it translated at jewishsexuality.com.
In the beginning of the Torah portion, in reward for keeping the commandments, G-d promises the Jews that there shall be ample rain in the Land of Israel, agricultural blessing, abundant harvests and produce, victory over all enemies, and peace in the Land.
But should the Jews stray from the Torah, and fall into sexual transgression by violating the Brit, then great trouble and hardship begins:
"But if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments; and if ye shall reject My statutes, and if your soul abhor Mine ordinances, so that ye will not do all My commandments, but break My covenant; I also will do this unto you: I will appoint terror over you, even consumption and fever, that shall make the eyes to fail, and the soul to languish; and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set My face against you, and ye shall be smitten before your enemies; they that hate you shall rule over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you."
The first wave of punishment comes as a warning. However, if we do not take heed, more terrible punishments follow, including the sword that executes the vengeance of our betrayal of the Brit, until we are destroyed by our enemies and cast out of our Land - prophecies that all tragically came true:
"And if ye will not yet for these things hearken unto Me, then I will chastise you seven times more for your sins. And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass. And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield her produce, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruit. And if ye walk contrary unto Me, and will not hearken unto Me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. And I will send the beast of the field among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your ways shall become desolate. And if in spite of these things ye will not be corrected unto Me, but will walk contrary unto Me; then will I also walk contrary unto you; and I will smite you, even I, seven times for your sins. And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall execute the vengeance of the Brit; and ye shall be gathered together within your cities; and I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy."
What exactly is "walking contrarily unto G-d?" This means not recognizing the Hand of G-d in forest fires of LA, and the floods in New Orleans, in the missiles that fall on Sederot, and the evacuation from Gush Katif. This means thinking that life is happenstance, that events take place accidentally. It means forgetting that everything comes from G-d, and that we are commanded to walk in His statutes and laws. Walking contrary to G-d brings upon us the curses of the exile:
"And I will make your cities a waste, and will bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. And I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies that dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And you will I scatter among the nations, and I will draw out the sword after you; and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste."
Dear Readers, all of this happened two thousand years ago in Israel. All of this came true.
"And as for them that are left of you, I will send a faintness into their heart in the lands of their enemies..."
"And the sound of a driven leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as one fleeth from the sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth. And they shall stumble one upon another, as it were before the sword, when none pursueth; and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies."
"And ye shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands."
Whether we perish through intermarriage and assimilation, through an another Holocaust, G-d forbid, or through tidal waves and earthquakes, the tragedy is the same. Only in Israel will there be a refuge, for as the conclusion of the Torah portion promises, G-d will remember the Covenant of our Forefathers and bring us back to the Land.
Brothers and Sisters in your comfortable exiles. Do not be mistaken!! The word of the L-rd is forever. If you walk contrary to Him, He will walk contrary to you, and then all of the firemen in America will not be able to save you.