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Love, Love, Love

By Tzvi Fishman
5/21/2008, 12:00 AM

Yesterday, we had the privilege of driving north to Meron, in the entourage of the revered Kabbalist, Rav Eliahu Leon Levi, for a beat-the-mob visit to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, whose yahrtzeit will be celebrated on Lag B’Omer, beginning this Thursday night.

View of Kinneret from tomb of Rachel, wife of Rabbi Akiva

For half a kilometer in both directions along the highway leading to the site, people are already camped out in tents. Traffic patterns have been diverted, and hundreds of policemen are already in place, ready for the one million devotees who are expected to arrive to honor the author of the Holy Zohar over the next few days. There is no more festive a memorial day anywhere in the world.

Rav Leon arrives in Meron

Since there are readers who say silly things about the Kabbala, we won’t write anything more on the subject. For people who would like a taste of Rabbi Shimon’s teachings, a selection can be found in the Zohar section of

Studying the Zohar with students

In the meantime, we will continue with our new leaf of love, and Rabbi Kook’s writings on the Land of Israel and aliyah, with goal of softening hearts that have become bitter and fortified in a defensive posture in order to ward of the pummeling blows of my hitherto offensive assaults.
Another public proclamation of Rabbi Kook was addressed to Orthodox communities to urge their Aliyah to Israel. In establishing a movement called “The Banner of Jerusalem,” Rabbi Kook called upon all religious Jews to come to Israel to rebuild the nation’s spiritual life, just as the secular Zionists were rebuilding the physical.

“Jews! We call you to the sacred task of building our Jewish nation in our Holy Land, in Eretz Yisrael. Come to us, rally together under the “Banner of Jerusalem” which we now raise aloft before the whole Jewish religious public.

“We all know the ‘Banner of Zion’ which unites a certain portion of our brethren on the basis of our Jewish secular interests in the Land of Israel. But there are many who have not joined those who bear the Zionist flag, and a great many who feel it impossible to do so. We simply record the plain fact that this is so, without questioning its veracity.

“Yet it cannot be that the largest, most natural, and earnest portion of Jewry, the majority of the Jewish religious public, should remain indifferent to the wonderful events of the present, and not lend a hand in the holy task of building our nation on our sacred soil because of, what they call, objections.

“Jews, all the loyal believers in the Jewish faith, there can be no doubt that the Divine power is now manifesting itself in us amidst the great world events. We are certainly called to return to our ancient home in the Land of Israel, there to renew our ancient holy life.

“We religious Jews must all profoundly know and believe that the Divine hand is now leading us openly to our high, ideal destiny. We must make known to the whole world, the true meaning of the present wondrous happenings, whose purpose is so clearly the hastening of our redemption and salvation, from which alone will also spring forth the redemption and salvation of all mankind.

“With the flaming, illuminating, Divine faith, with all the luster of our holy Torah, with the vitality of all of the most refined and devout Jews, we shall carry our flag, the ‘Banner of Jerusalem’ by which alone the ‘Banner of Zion’ will also be properly hoisted. For the value of Jewish secular power will be elucidated to the world only in the light of our holy Jewish spiritual power, emphasized by the uplifted voices of the whole religious Jewish world community, setting with holy enthusiasm to the task of our national construction, of our return to the Land of Israel, by the grace of the Divine and illuminating light, O House of Jacob, come, and let us walk in the light of the L-rd.”