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Dear Shimshon and Shmuelik

By Tzvi Fishman
11/20/2007, 12:00 AM

This is an open letter to my procrastinating Haredi brothers who refuse to come to live in the Holy Land, preferring to live out their lives of delusion in the spiritual swamp of the exile, immersed in gentile cultures, in gentile lands, under gentile rulers.


We who are blessed and privileged to live in the Land of Israel realize that you are prisoners of fear and empty excuses. We who have been blessed to realize that Judaism is more than eating gefilta fish and getting smashed at Saturday morning Kiddush to get through another hollow American or French or English or Belgium Shabbat, reach out to you to take a deep breath, be brave, and step up to the real Judaism.

Can anything be sicker than this?

We who have been blessed to understand that Judaism is not merely the practice of individual mitzvot, but rather the national constitution and holy life of the Nation of Israel in the Land of Israel, a mitzvah that encompasses all of the other mitzvot combined (Sifre, Reah, 13), we appeal to you to step up to a higher vision. The goal of Judaism is not merely to acquire a beautiful etrog and light Hanukah candles in Monsey, but rather to teach the world that G-d rules over all the nations, and this can only be done through the life of the Nation of Israel in the Land of Israel – “For from Zion the Torah shall go forth, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem.”

Last week was the yahrtzeit of the Torah giant, Rabbi Eliezer Valdenberg, who died last year at the age of 91. Rabbi Valdenberg was one of the foremost authorities of Jewish Law in our time. In his voluminous compendium of Jewish Law, “Tzitz Eliezer,” he wrote thousands of articles on every aspect of halacha, including the most modern advances in medicine, which were accepted as the definitive opinion by all factions of Orthodox Jewry, including the Haredim.

Rabbi Valdenberg emphasized beyond any question of a doubt that every individual Jew, and the Jewish People in its entirety, are beholden to live in the Land of Israel. Regarding the Jewish People as a whole, he wrote: “There is an encompassing mitzvah which is an obligation on the entire Nation of Israel to come and settle in the Land of Israel and to live there as a holy nation.” Regarding the individual Jew, he wrote: “There is an individual mitzvah on every Jew, which is an obligation to make aliyah to Israel and to dwell there.”

In his halachic discussion on the subject, he writes that the general mitzvah of the nation to live in Israel was interrupted with the destruction of the Temple, but that “Ever since Hashem has remembered us for good, and has given us a renewed possession in the Holy Land, to be sovereign there, in a portion of our Land, and the gates of the Land have been spaciously opened, the obligation on the entire House of Israel to live there has been renewed, and it is the obligation of every community of Jews in the Diaspora, wherever they may be, to rise up en masse, and to come and settle in our cherished Land.”

Rabbi Valdenberg emphasizes “There is absolutely no room to refuse to come on aliyah to the Land of Israel because the country’s leadership is mainly in the hands of Jews who have cast off the yoke of the Torah, because of our many sins. Also invalid is the claim that the Divine salvation cannot come forth through the agency of Jews who don’t have the reverence of G-d in their hearts.”

Rabbi Valdenberg explains that if there were more G-d fearing Jews in the Land, the Level of Torah observance would be much greater than at present. Regarding the Redemption sprouting from the efforts of secular Jews, he writes that the mysteries of G-d are beyond our grasp, and that such salvations occurred in our Biblical past, when non-religious, Jewish leaders and kings saved the people of Israel from their enemies and expanded the borders of the Land.

So Shimshon and Shmuelik, and my Haredi brothers wherever you may be, if you’ve been waiting for halachic permission, here it is. Just as you surely perform the commandments of Succot and Shabbat with all of their details and stringencies, why not perform the commandment that is equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah put together – the supremely exalted commandment of living in Eretz Yisrael?

Diligent with all the mitzvot except the biggest mitzvah of all.

Everything is waiting for you – heders for your children, yeshivot for your youth, shuls of every persuasion, mikvahs in every neighborhood, frum communities, glatt kosher markets, Haredi newspapers, new apartments, Haredi bus trips to Hevron and Safed, Jerusalem the whole year round, tons of gefilta fish and even scotch whiskey.