To Go Up or To Go Down
Tzvi FishmanBefore making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter....
Today is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Meir Kahane, towering prophet of our time, fearless speaker of truth, champion of the Torah, loving husband and father, may Hashem avenge his murder by an Arab terrorist in New York.
Over the past year, we have tried to make clear the great imperative of aliyah if Diaspora Jewry hopes to escape destruction. In memory of Rabbi Kahane, we will turn this blog over to him and let his impassioned words ring out loud and clear in our ears.
[This article, condensed for this blog, appeared in 1976, decades before the founding of Nefesh B’ Nefesh. It is part of a soon-to-be-published collection of Rabbi Kahane’s essays and articles].
TO GO UP OR TO GO DOWN
Over the past few years I have had the dubious honor of being barred from speaking at the World Zionist Congress, the Brussels Conference on Soviet Jewry, many major Jewish conventions, and untold numbers of synagogues. The fear of hearing painful, controversial and unsettling views, is endemic among tiny people.
Even the youth, those who should, by any standard, be the idealists are massive disappointments. The painful fact is that there is only a pitifully small number of Jewish youth going on aliyah.
The insecurity and fear that rule the inner recesses of such Jews make them desperately frightened of hearing Jewish truths that will shake the very foundations of their philosophies and existence, and that will make them question the essence of their reason for being. And that is why so many of them will hear Arabs rather than JDL; enemies of Israel, but not Kahane. That — and the worst of all the fears that beset the leaders of the Jewish Establishment, both the gentilized Jews of America and the Hebrew-speaking gentiles of Israel: the fear that my ideas and words may open the eyes of the Jewish masses and persuade them that their present leaders guide the nation to disaster.
That is why there are such frantic efforts to bar me from speaking, to see that my books are not advertised or carried by bookstores, to have my column barred. And that is why I will be barred again in Brussels in February and that is why there was such intense pressure by Jewish Agency officials to force the leaders of the Association of Americans and Canadians for Aliyah (AACA) to withdraw their invitation to have me speak at their convention on February 7. It is to the AACA’s credit that they refused to be pressured.
I have a special desire to speak to this group which could grow from the essentially packing-and-crating organization that the Israeli government has made of it, into a true aliyah movement, which can save the lives and futures of countless American and Canadian Jews. I want so much to speak to this group and to challenge it to greatness, to seek independence for itself so that it can finally do what no one else does for the Jewish people.
So few, even among the so-called religious American Jews and their leaders, understand or are willing to see the meaning of the era in which we live and its categorical imperatives: the end of the era of Hillul Hashem (desecration of the L-rd’s Name) and the beginning of that of Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of the L-rd’s Name). We are tiny people and an orphaned generation, and we do not see and do not wish to see the incredible Divine ordaining of the beginning of the Redemption that has taken place before our very eyes. The rise of the Jewish State from the ashes of Auschwitz and from the terror of the long Exile is a decree of the L-rd. It is His first sign of the dawn at the end of the long night of suffering. The State is the sign of Jewish strength and restoration of glory which is the proof of the greatness and omnipotence of the Jewish G-d. It is the reply to those who mocked the Jews and their G-d, asking: “Jews, where is your G-d?” It is the end to the impotence of the Jew and his Maker. It is the beginning of the era of Divine Presence whereby His power and majesty will be manifested to all so that they “know His Name.”
The Exile, the very antithesis of the glory, the very symbol of Jewish weakness and shame, is ending and it must end. Those Jews who refuse to leave it and who perpetuate it, participate daily in the humiliation and desecration of the holy Name. They humiliate G-d, and more — they are men of little faith. They, even the religious, even those who build their “Netanyas in New York,” their “young, modern, dynamic Orthodox Jewish communities” in the suburbs, their “exclusive, for Bnei Torah only,” idolatry on Staten Island. They are men who build their Golden Calves and worship them, men of little faith even though they don two pairs of tefillin daily. Their corruption of Judaism, their remaining in the Exile will lead to their drowning in a flood of gentile fire as the Exile is destroyed.
There is no faith, and that is the essence of the tragedy. The average Jew is sublimely ignorant, comfortably materialistic, stupendously blind, a man utterly lacking in understanding and faith. The practitioner of ritual, the ostensibly “religious Jew,” defies the injunction to live in the Land of Israel and embraces the pagan and unholy earth of Exile. And even the youth, those who should, by any standard, be the idealists are massive disappointments. The painful fact is that there is only a pitifully small number of Jewish youth going on aliyah. Our youth, too, are contaminated with lack of idealism; they too are denizens of fleshpots, and their pro forma attacks on the Establishment sound more than hypocritical alongside their own abysmal failure to emigrate. Little faith, a generation of little faith.
These are axioms that I wish to lay out before the AACA delegates and much more. For I bear not only problems but solutions — Jewish solutions. Because they and the American Jewish community must understand that aliyah means “to go up” and that they have only one of two choices. Either the American Jew will go up to the land or he will go down to destruction.