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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.
If you are sick and tired of INN bloggers reminding you that you should be living in the Land of Israel, don’t blame us. The same message was broadcasted millennium ago by the holy bloggers of the Talmud:
“The Rabbis taught: At all times, a Jew should dwell in the Land of Israel, even in a city where the majority of residents are idol worshippers, and not live outside of the Land, even in a city where the majority of inhabitants are Jews. For everyone who lives in the Land of Israel is like someone who has a G-d, and everyone who lives outside of the Land is like someone who does not have a G-d, as it says, ‘To give you the land of Canaan to be your G-d’ (Vayikra, 25:38). Can it be that everyone who doesn’t live in the Land of Israel has no G-d? Rather, it comes to say to you that everyone who lives outside of the Land of Israel is likened to someone who worships idols. In this light, it is written concerning David, ‘For they have driven me out this day from being joined to the inheritance of the L-rd, saying, Go and serve other gods’ (Shmuel 1:26:19). Now, who told David to go and worship other gods? Rather, it comes to tell you that whoever lives outside of the Land of Israel is like someone who worships idols” (Ketubot, 110B).
With King Shaul pursuing after him, David had to temporarily flee from the Land of Israel, which is known as “the inheritance of the L-rd.” Certainly, the pious David didn’t worship other gods. How can we understand this?
In this week’s Torah portion of “Achre Mot,” the Ramban explains that G-d has assigned angels to rule over the countries of the world. There is a gentile angel in charge of the affairs of America, and a gentile angel over Germany, and a funny-sounding gentile angel over France. The only exception is the Land of Israel, over which G-d rules alone. Therefore, when a Jew prays and studies Torah outside the Land of Israel, his prayers and learning rise up to the angel in charge of that gentile nation, giving strength to the angel and to the affairs of that foreign state. In this sense, Jews outside of the Land of Israel are likened to people who serve other gods, since their worship goes up to an intermediary, rather than straight up to G-d Himself (See, Commentary of the Ramban on the Torah, Vayikra, 18:25).
(In light of this explanation of the Ramban, how ironic and frightening it is to realize that in pressuring Israel to surrender Judea and Samaria, and half of Jerusalem, G-d forbid, Obama is getting his power from the Jews of America!)
From this Gemara, and Ramban’s stunning revelation, it is absolutely clear that Eretz Yisrael is the one and only place to live for the Jewish People to live.
Keeping these insights in mind, we can also better understand why Eretz Yisrael is called the Holy Land. It is completely under the auspices of G-d, unblemished by impure and unholy forces, like those which rule over the nations of the world.
The Land is so holy that it actually vomits out those who defile it through sexual aberrations, as we learn at the end of this week’s Torah portion. In contrast, you can sleep with everyone from Boston to LA and you’ll always have a place in America.
Also, at the very beginning of parshat “Kedoshim,” we are commanded, “You shall be holy!”
Just what does being holy involve?
Rashi explains: “Be removed from arayot and from sin.” Arayot include the most serious sexual transgressions such as incest, adultery, and relations with a woman during her menstruation period. Rashi uses the term “sin” to mean sexual sin, as is found in tractate Yoma 29A and Sotah 3A, regarding sexual fantasies and sexual relations.
Rashi continues: “For wherever you find (in the Torah) a fence against sexual immorality, you find holiness.”
For example, every time a man is tempted to click on a forbidden image on the Internet, and succeeds in overcoming the urge, he draws down upon himself a spirit of holiness. If he breaks the urge 100 times in one sitting, he draws down 100 doses of holiness. It can add up to quite a lot. In doing so, he saves himself from several other serious transgressions as well.
For instance, parshat “Kedoshim” in the holy Zohar, relates: “Rabbi Abba said, It is forbidden for a man to fix his gaze upon heathen idols and gentile women.”
Now your run-of-the-mill “youtube” bimbos in bikinis, exercise-class “instructors”, and runway models are lowlife, empty-headed pagans. It may all seem like harmless entertainment to you, but by watching these clips, you are frying your brain and your soul.
More than that. As it further states in the Zohar:
“We have learned that it is forbidden for a man to gaze at the beauty of a woman lest evil thoughts be provoked in him and he be incited to something worse. When Rabbi Shimon had to walk through the town, followed by his companions, when he came to a place where beautiful women were apt to be found, he would lower his eyes and say to them, ‘Do not stray (after their gods!)’ For whoever gazes at the beauty of a woman by day will have sinful thoughts at night. And if these thoughts overcome him, he transgresses the commandment, ‘You shall not make for yourselves molten gods.’ Furthermore, if he has marital relations with his wife while thinking of these evil images, the children born from such a union are called ‘molten gods.’ For this reason it is written, ‘You shall not make for yourselves molten gods’” (Zohar, Vayikra, 84A).
To summarize what we have learned:
A holy Jew in the Holy Land living a holy life. That’s what this week’s Torah portion is all about.