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Answer to Ordinary Joe

By Tzvi Fishman
3/2/2008, 12:00 AM

First regarding the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel, the difference between a true devotee of Torah and a Couch Potato is as follows:

When presented with a mitzvah, a true devotee of Torah gladly performs it. He doesn’t search for a thousand excuses to be AWOL with G-d. A true devotee of Torah doesn’t say, “I won’t put on Tefillin because it looks funny.” He doesn’t say, “I won’t keep kosher because it costs more money than eating regular food.” He doesn’t say, “I won’t have children because childbirth is dangerous.”  A true devotee of Torah does not pick and choose mitzvot, saying, “I will do this commandment because it pleases me, but this one I reject because it does not jive with my personal plans.”

Before the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land, they fought against the King of Heshbone and killed him. Rabbi Kook explained that the name “Heshbone” was not a coincidence. In Hebrew, Heshbone means an accounting or a reckoning. Rabbi Kook explained that when a Jew contemplates coming to the Land of Israel, he or she must first slaughter all Heshbonot, all accountings and reckonings. If he fails to do this and says, “I will have trouble making a living, and I’ll have to serve in the army, and there are secular Jews there who will threaten my Yiddishkeit, and prices are always all going up, and I’ll have to learn a new language…..,” then he will never come. A Jew is to trust in G-d and perform His commandments, period, without being a Monday morning quarterback, like Korach and the Spies in the Wilderness, who challenged G-d’s plan for the Jewish People. While they were gifted leaders and orators, they served their own mistaken understandings, personal ambitions, and fears, rather than serving G-d.

Regarding what will be in the Land of Israel, once again a Jew is called upon to trust in G-d and lend a hand in the rebuilding of the Jewish Nation in Israel, as our Sages have taught, “In the future, a Heavenly Voice will shine forth in splendor over the tops of the mountains, saying, ‘May all those who worked with G-d come and receive their reward’” (Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbat, 6:9).

The Redemption of Israel is a world-encompassing game plan, affected the fruits of the trees, the fish in the sea, the movements of the planets, the size and illumination of the sun and the moon, and the actions of the kings of the world. Hashem is the head coach, calling the plays. We must do all that we can in the framework of the Torah and trust Him to do the rest. At this stage in our Redemption, we do this by coming to Israel, building the Land, infusing the life here with more and more Torah. We do this by working within the limited frameworks of the democracy that Hashem has temporarily established, as a prelude to out destined monarchy. We work in a wide range of spheres to bring about governmental actions that will safeguard the Jewish People, the Jewish Land, and the Jewish character of the Medinat Yisrael.   Without relying on miracles, we trust that in the upcoming wars, Tzahal will deal devastating blows to our enemies. We trust that the people in Israel will very soon realize the emptiness of its present political leadership and vote for a change. At first, this may be only to change the Kedema party for the equally vapid Likud, but, until Mashiach’s arrival, which we long for every day, we will continue to work with the ever awakening nation, in the democratic framework that Hashem has provided, to replace the Likud with a new spirited leadership filled with a mighty holy valor and faith. We trust that the time is soon coming when the great majority of Israelis will demand a leadership that is dedicated to Hashem and His Torah.  In the meantime, as the Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, said this week, Israel’s renewed triumphs in war will spark a tsunami of pride throughout the Diaspora, encouraging Jews to come home. This, along with economic problems, anti-Semitism, and terrorism throughout the world, will spark more and more Jews to set their faces toward Zion. These holy brothers and sisters will join in the battle of purging the Land of its foreign cultures and peoples This is the way that Hashem is bringing the Redemption about. This is the game plan about which the Prophets of Israel foretold.

"What did you do to help rebuild the Jewish Nation in Israel?"

One of the questions a person is asked before the Heavenly Tribunal when he arrives in the World to Come after his visit on earth is, “Did you yearn for the Salvation of the Jewish People from the exile?” (Shabbat 31). He will be shown a film of the ingathering of the exiles to Israel in our time, and be asked, “What did you do to participate with G-d in the rebuilding of the Jewish People in the Jewish homeland?” Then he will be given exactly fifteen seconds to answer, not five minutes, not a half hour. Dissertations and long windy speeches filled with convoluted explanations and excuses will not be allowed. Unfortunate is he who cannot say “I did my share,” whether it be a great deal by having moved to Israel, or a little by extending whatever aid a person could muster, whether by donating funds, by praying, or by identifying with his brothers and sisters in the Land.  And woe is he who did the opposite by discouraging Jews from coming to live in Israel, may Hashem have mercy on his soul.

The truth is that we are all guilty of not doing enough, both those of us who are in Israel, and those who are still abroad. It is the relentless spiritual and physical onslaught, and the great impurity of the exile, that has poisoned our minds and weakened our hearts. But, all the same, we all must strive to do what we can to propel the great dream of Redemption forward, by working with G-d to rebuild the Jewish People in the Jewish Land.