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Jewdaism For Beginners

By Tzvi Fishman
3/3/2010, 12:00 AM

Unfortunately, it seems that many of our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora still haven’t grasped the message. Since there are talkbackers who encourage me to keep pounding away, and since, every once in a while, I receive a personal letter from a new oleh who says he was positively influenced by my blogs on aliyah, I will try again.


One of our most ardent and erudite lovers of life amongst the gentiles writes:


“If Israel were a less odious place--if it dealt with its Muslim problem effectively and if it did not kick Jews out of their homes… Israel would be more appealing. So, if you really care about aliyah, all you need to do is improve Israel. You will not succeed in aliyah until you do.”


This is like saying, “When you get rid of the cockroaches and mosquitoes in Israel, I will come on aliyah.”


Or, “When English is made the official language in Israel, I will come on aliyah.”


"Or when I can make an American salary, I will come on aliyah."


In other words, “When everything is to my liking, I will come on aliyah.”


Of course, as we have pointed out dozens of times before, this is exactly the reasoning of the Spies in the wilderness, who, in refusing to go to Israel because of their fear of the giants in the Land, brought about the death of the entire generation, and the future destruction of the Beit HaMikdash.


Portrait of an Anti-Aliyah Talkbacker


Yes, like our talkbackers, the Spies were very intelligent and glib. Yes, like our talkbackers, they had degrees in all kinds of academics. What they didn’t have was courage, Emunah (faith), and a true love of G-d.


Fortunately, Joshua and Calev, and the splendid Jewish women of the time, weren’t afraid of the cockroaches and mosquitoes, nor of the giants.  


That’s how it is with all of the Torah. We don’t perform the mitzvot because they are pleasing in our eyes. We do them because that’s what G-d wants us to do, and we are happy in doing them, because we know we are doing G-d’s will.


Please remember, my dear friends, that part and parcel of being a Jew is the practice of Judaism. Perhaps if I spell the word differently, it will be more clear. Judaism is really Jewdaism –  the Divine code according to which a Jew is supposed to live his or her life. Or, to be even more exact, the word “Jew” should be spelled “Ju,” as a practitioner of Judaism. Being a Ju and Judaism go hand in hand.


Of course, a Ju who doesn’t practice Judaism is still a Ju. Just like a car without a motor is still a car, even though it doesn't drive; and just like a CD that’s scratched is still a CD, even though it hardly plays, a Ju who doesn’t perform the tenets of Judaism still a Ju.


Now when a broken disc of a Ju who doesn’t observe the commandments comes to preach about not making aliyah – that’s a little presumptuous, don’t you think? Even with all the higfalutin arguments and sophisticated political double-talk they blabber, it’s all a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.


For those of us who have been blessed by Hashem with the incomparable blessing of living in Israel, we are doing our best, each person in his or her own way, to make the country more in line with the Torah ideal. Instead of crying and badmouthing about the Land of Hashem and the brave Jews who live here, we are observing Hashem’s commandments with joy.


Remember, the Pesach seder doesn’t conclude with the bold and triumphant declaration, “Next year in Jerusalem – if they get rid of the cockroaches and mosquitoes.” It concludes with, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Period!