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Judaism Without Those Nasty Bones

By Tzvi Fishman
6/14/2009, 12:00 AM

I hope this blog doesn’t offend anyone. I truly love my brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. Caring for their wellbeing, the way I would if I saw someone about to fall off a cliff, I try to point out that G-d wants the Jewish People to live in Eretz Yisrael, and not in Brooklyn or Japan.

"Watch out!"

This is obvious to anyone who reads the Torah, since it is repeated over and over again, more than any other commandment. This week’s Torah portion about the Spies, who rebelled against G-d by refusing to make aliyah to Israel, is completely dedicated to this understanding. No person can read the account of the Spies and not understand that G-d wants the Jewish People to live in the Land of Israel. Nothing could be simpler or more straightforward.

INN readers who get angry at me, and my fellow bloggers, for repeating this clear and straightforward eternal truth, know in their hearts that we are right. This knowledge is an innate part of every Jew. Every Jew knows that Eretz Yisrael is the Jewish homeland, and not America or France. If this is the case, why do they attack us so hysterically whenever we write about the commandment of living in Israel? The answer is that, though they know the truth in their inner hearts, they don’t want to face up to it and have to deal with all of the difficult challenges which moving to Israel implies. Uprooting one’s life and beginning anew in another country is a heavy burden and not everyone has the courage, strength, faith, wherewithal, opportunity, and good fortune to do so.  Being confronted with the mitzvah of living in Israel, the Diaspora Jew’s conscience is threatened, and to quiet his guilty feeling, he is liable to strike out in hysterical, venomous attacks against the proponents of aliyah, and against all of the things he finds wrong in the State of Israel. It’s a form of self defense. Deep inside, the Diaspora Jew knows that he or she is living a falsehood, and when they are confronted with the truth by Jews who are fortunate to be living their lives in the Land of Israel, in accordance with the truth of the Torah, they feel that they have to protect themselves, so that the house of playing cards which they have built for themselves won’t come tumbling down.

House of Cards

I am not criticizing them. As I wrote a few blogs back, they are not to blame. No one ever taught them the truth. True, any grade-school child who reads the Bible will tell you that G-d wants the Jews to live in the Land of Israel, but to protect their glass communities, many parents and Jewish educators pretend that what the Torah says about aliyah applied only back then, not today - even though they will admit that the other commandments like Tefillin and Shabbat and keeping Kosher certainly apply today as well.

Coming on aliyah puts the bones back into Judaism.

It’s a little like gefilta fish. Everyone knows that Diaspora Jews loves gefilta fish. What makes gefilta fish so popular? It isn’t only the taste. Gefilta fish is boneless. The backbones of the fish have been removed and the meat of the fish is grinded up so that no bones whatsoever remain. This makes eating fish on Shabbat a lot easier, since there is a complicated law which prohibits the removal of bones from fish on Shabbat. Since there is a custom to eat fish on Shabbat, gefilta fish makes life a lot easier.

In the same light, living in the Diaspora makes Judaism a lot easier. You don’t have to deal with all of the problematic “bones” that living in Israel involves, like making the desert bloom, producing your own agriculture, learning how to shoot a rifle, serving in the army, establishing viable political and courts systems, taking care of garbage pick-up, and the like. When you live as a minority in someone else land, the gentiles take care of the government and agriculture and defense and garbage pick-up. This is the boneless brand of Judaism that the generation of the Spies wanted to live in the wilderness where all of their needs were met by the manna, miraculous well, and invincible Clouds of Glory. They didn’t want all the hassle of plowing, and sifting wheat, and building houses, and serving in the army, and paving highways, and the complications of running a government that living in their own Land would require.

However, this was exactly what G-d wanted – that the Jewish People show the world that it is possible to sanctify all of earthly existence in the service of G-d, not just in the yeshiva study hall and home, but in the army and government and life of the farmer, postman, and garbage man as well.

So come join us! Yes, in many ways, living is Israel is more difficult. Here, we have to do the work ourselves in getting rid of the bones. But this is precisely what G-d wants. Be honest with yourselves, and with your children. Why settle for a boneless Judaism in Brooklyn when you can be a Jew with a backbone in your own Land!