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Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
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Torah Tidbits Audio
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.
"Now, more than ever, we need to do serious Pesach cleaning in our national home. And we need Jews - Jews in the millions - to help us. We need Jews from the USA, from Britain, from everywhere."
Thus begins the eloquent and passionate letter that Daniel Pinner wrote on the eve of his entry into prison. We are reprinting it here so that others can learn from his real life example:
On the 23rd of Adar (23 March), I was in court to hear the arguments of my lawyer, Baruch Ben-Yosef, and of the prosecution's lawyer, Rachel Elmechais, as to what my appropriate sentence should be. (For the record, the judge, Rachel Barka'i, handed down a sentence closer to what Adv. Baruch Ben-Yosef argued for.)
On that occasion, Barka'i began proceedings by informing Adv. Ben-Yosef that she had received hundreds of emails, faxes and letters from Israel and the Diaspora regarding me and my case, but that she would not take these communications into account. Sometime later, I received a printout of about 180 of the emails that had been sent to Her Honour from Israel, the USA, Canada, the UK and other countries, pleading, requesting, cajoling, threatening, arguing for Her Honour to show me leniency.
Twelve days later, on the 6th of Nissan (4 April), Barka'i handed down a two-year sentence. Within the first 24 hours, I received over 100 messages of support from my voice mail and countless more messages in the subsequent days.
I also received a stack of printouts from various Internet sites, articles by me and about me, and responses from around the world. I have been truly overwhelmed by the spontaneous outpouring of support, solidarity and encouragement.
Inevitably, a great many of these communications have included criticism of the Israeli justice system and, by extension, of the entire Israeli political establishment. I do not think that I am in any way important personally, but my case - the events that have been forced upon me - epitomizes and highlights much of what is rotten in the State of Israel.
Now, it is indisputable that the system is corrupt to the core. Clearly, the decision to prosecute me at all, and not the Arabs who testified under oath that they were throwing rocks at Jews, was more political than judicial - and political decisions have (or should have) no place in a court of justice.
But this is merely a symptom. The corruption, the connection between money and power, the politicization of the police, the judiciary and the army, the anti-nationalist and anti-religious bias of the media and the education system, the institutionalized protektziya (and how many people know that the very term protektziya is taken from Russian of the Soviet Era?), the unsupervised power the State has given to the Shabak (General Security Service), the open collaboration between the government and Arab terrorists - all of these are endemic to the Israeli establishment. All these threaten the personal security of every Israeli. All these undermine any confidence and trust that the Israeli authorities may ever have enjoyed. All these contribute to growing poverty, crime, violence, drug abuse and alienation in Israeli society.
And all these threaten the very survival of the Jewish State.
And so, it is entirely understandable that so many of the messages to Rachel Barka'i, and so many of the messages from abroad that I have received, have been from the Jews in the Diaspora who have said that hearing of my experience has discouraged them from making Aliyah. Countless correspondents over these last nine months have made remarks to the effect that only a fool or a masochist would make Aliyah or even visit Israel; that Jews are safer outside of Israel - after all, in the last decade, more Jews have been murdered in Israel than the rest of the world; that Israel is the only country that legally forbids Jews from living in certain areas just because they are Jews; that the Israeli media is more anti-Jewish than any media in the West.
All this is true.
But my one regret is that so many Jews in exile are using my personal story as an excuse not to come home, that so many good Jews have conceded defeat to the anti-Jewish junta that rules in Israel.
Of course, if Germany or France or Iraq become hostile to Judaism, become corrupt, make life miserable for Jews, collaborate with Arab terrorists - that is a reason for Jews to cut off contact with those countries.
And when this happens in Israel, in the one country on G-d's Earth that we can call home - that is all the more reason for Jews to come to Israel, to return home, to do tikkun. When someone else's home is filthy, that is a reason to leave; when your own home is filthy, you clean it thoroughly. And, when necessary, you throw out the scoundrels who are responsible for the filth. But you don't abandon your home to those scoundrels.
Now, more than ever, we need to do serious Pesach cleaning in our national home. And we need Jews - Jews in the millions - to help us. We need Jews from the USA, from Britain, from everywhere - Jews who have lived as minorities and can therefore appreciate how precious it is to be a Jew, how precious our Jewish State is. We need a massive influx of Jews from the free world who have experienced life in democratic regimes, who will protest - here at home, not abroad - against the abuses of power.
And so, my one request of any Jew who has been disgusted by the Israeli establishment: take that disgust and channel it into Aliyah. That will be your personal contribution to sweeping the filth out of our collective home. That will be your personal victory over evil. One family - even one single Jew - who makes Aliyah will do more to cleanse Israel than all the protests from America.
One final thought. "If you see oppression of the poor, and justice and righteousness trampled in a country, do not be astounded," said King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 5:7). Corruption happens: it is human nature. The test of the individual is how he or she reacts to that corruption. Do you surrender or do you defeat it?
More than that. The Talmud tells us that "anyone who mourns for Jerusalem will merit to see it rejoicing" (Ta'anit 30A), which Rabbi Yosef Caro brings as practical Halacha (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 554:25). How much greater, then, will be the rejoicing of those who actively worked to rebuilt Jerusalem in justice?
The door is open, and we are waiting for you to come home.