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The Land of Israel is Waiting

By Tzvi Fishman
6/29/2008, 12:00 AM

Take an empty can or plastic bottle of soda. Put a few pennies inside. Shake it. It makes a lot of noise, right? Now, take a slip of paper and write on it MIKE. Scotch tape it to the can. You can use it to scare away stray cats from your back yard, or use it as a noisemaker on Purim.

Just a lot of fizz and foam

G-d created the world and gave the continents of the world to the gentiles, and the Land of Israel to the Jews. The commandment to live in the Land of Israel has absolutely no connection to the question whether Medinat Yisrael is holy or not. That is just a smokescreen that Mike employs to hide the fact that he isn’t here doing something to help create the Torah atmosphere we all long for. Instead he chooses to live in a gentile land helping the goyim. He chooses to follow his own will, rather than the will of G-d. And he makes a pathetic attempt to cover it up by finding a thousand things wrong with life in Israel.

“Medinat Yisrael is out to kill the Jews!” Mike cries out in protest of Hashem’s great international ingathering of the Jewish People in our time. “The Israeli government isn’t religious! The Israel police and the Israeli army kick Jews out of their homes! They beat up girls in Amona! And the settler lemmings don’t fight back!”

But even if there are ten thousand things wrong in the Land of Israel, it is still a commandment from the Torah to live here. This obligation applies in all generations. The mitzvah to live in the Land of Israel is totally independent of the religiousness of the government ruling here. Jews are commanded to live here whether idol worshippers rule here, or Jewish leftists, or terrifying giants, uncircumcised Philistines, or Torah Jews. Eretz Yisrael is Eretz Yisrael, independent of any other factor, and we all are commanded to live in Eretz Yisrael, as we have been from the time of our Forefathers until today. 

 As to the side question regarding the holiness of Medinat Yisrael. Yes, Medinat Yisrael is holy. One of the commandments of the Torah, as clearly set forth by the Ramban, is to establish Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel (Supplement to the Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam, Positive Mitzvah #4). This supreme Torah mitzvah has been accomplished in our time by the establishment of the State of Israel. In the Laws of Hanukah, the Rambam declares that we celebrate the holiday of Hanukah because Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael was returned to the Jews for over two hundred years. We celebrate the Hanukah even though most of the Hashmonite rulers that followed the Maccabees were corrupt and estranged from the Torah. In the same light, the Second Temple was considered holy, even though Herod slaughtered all of the rabbis of his time, save one, whom he merely blinded. Jewish sovereignty is Jewish sovereignty whether the king or prime minister wears tzitzit or not.

Mike cannot understand this because he doesn’t want to. He wants to stay in galut. True, the present government of Israel is corrupt. True, its political leaders are corrupt. True, its justice system is corrupt. True, corrupt anti-Torah leftists control the media. One can go on and on, but all of this corruption does not, in any shape or form, negate the commandment to live in the Land of Israel. Eretz Yisrael is above all governments and politicians.  Just as a Jew has to eat holy food, and recite holy prayers, and perform holy acts, and observe holy days, he has to live in a holy place. There is only one holy place in the world. The Land of Israel. Not living in the Land of Israel is like not eating kosher food, and not going to shul, and not observing the holidays. Not living in the Land of Israel is much worse than ignoring these other basics of Jewish law, for living in Eretz Yisrael is the encompassing foundation of all of the Torah. Without it, a Jew can have a lifelong stock of gefilta fish in his basement, but he can’t have a Jewish king, a Sanhedrin, a shmittah year, prophecy, an Israeli air force, or a Beit HaMikdash, even in Brooklyn or Monsey, New York. He can practice a handful of personal mitzvot, but compared to Jewish life in Israel, Diaspora Judaism is Orthodox Lite. 

Orthodox Lite

Mike can write noisy, penny-in-an-empty-can, talkbacks until he is blue in the face, but the very essence of Mike’s Jewishness is missing, because he is performing his private brand of exile Judaism in a place he doesn’t belong, in an impure gentile land, where all the goyim are wondering, “Why is this Jew living here with us, when G-d gave him his own Jewish land?” Instead of sanctifying the Name of G-d by coming to live in G-d’s chosen Land, Mike does the very opposite, as the prophet Ezekiel declares:

“And when they came to the lands of the nations into which they came, they profaned My holy Name, in that men said of them, ‘These are the people of the L-rd and they have gone out of His land.’”

How can this terrible disgrace be erased? Hashem Himself gives the answer: “I will sanctify My great Name, which was profaned among the nations, which you have profaned by being in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am the L-rd, says the L-rd G-d, when I shall be sanctified through you in their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own Land” (Ezekiel, 36:20-24).

In our time, this great sanctifiction of G-d has been brought about via Medinat Yisrael. Thank G-d that it’s ours! If there are things needing improvement, come help. If money is a problem, Mike, I’m sure our readers will pitch in and buy you a ticket. Put up or shut up. The Land of Israel is waiting.