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Ask the Rabbi
News & Call-In with Tamar Yonah
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.
For several years now, I have been trying to help people understand the simple truth that a Jew belongs in Israel. Many people find the concept difficult to grasp because they have never learned about the intrinsic unity of the Jewish People, Torah, and Eretz Yisrael. It simply isn’t taught in the Diaspora. Because of the length of the exile, Jews have come to identity with the places where they live, believing they are Americans or Frenchmen or Swiss. They learn about the rituals of Judaism: tefillin, Shabbat, keeping kosher, and the like, but they are never introduced to the bigger picture. After all, if the rabbis taught their congregants that they were supposed to be living in Israel, it would mean the end of the Diaspora – or the rabbis.
So I will try once again to switch on the old light bulb in your heads with the hope that some Jew, somewhere in the world, may wake up to the bigger picture of what Judaism is really all about.
Before we perform a mitzvah, we recite a blessing in which we praise G-d for sanctifying us via His commandments. The mitzvot add to our holiness. When we eat kosher food, our bodies become holier. When we study Torah, our minds become holier. When we wave the lulav, our hands and arms become more sanctified. When we dwell in the succah, everything becomes holier, our eating, our talking, our studying, our sleeping. Kabbalists refer to this as “ohr hamakif,” or being surrounded by G-d’s encompassing light. In the succah we are enveloped by holiness. It saturates us and elevates all of our existence, like being in a spiritual sauna.
Now if our succah booth is in the Land of Israel, then it is like we are in a little sauna inside of a giant sauna. We get a colossal, magnified spritz of holiness. For all of the Land of Israel is surrounded by G-d’s encompassing light. Just by living in the Land of Israel, everything in our life is sanctified in G-d’s encompassing light – our homes, our cars, our jobs, our military service, our speech, our thoughts, our deeds.
And because we are surrounded by the holy geodesic bubble of the Land of Israel, all of the Jews living here are joined together, bumping into each other like atoms in an atomic fission centrifuge, each one giving added power to the next, so that everything a Jew does is multiplied scores and scores of times, making him into a bigger Jew.
By living in the encompassing light of the Land of Israel, a Jew joins the “clal,” the encompassing unity of the Jewish People. His private life becomes attached to the greater life of the clal. Instead of being an individual Jew, he becomes a NATIONAL Jew. His life becomes magnified in his bonding with the NATION. Just by going to the grocery store he is helping to rebuild the Jewish People in the Land of Israel, in fulfillment of prophecy and our prayers. That’s why the Chofetz Chaim declared that a mitzvah performed in Israel has 20 times more mitzvah power than the same mitzvah perform anywhere else. Because of the mega-power of the clal, and the incredible chain reaction that occurs when we are gathered together in our Land.
And for those who want to say that they can play a part of the greater life of America just as well – what can I say? Mazel tov for being a part of a gentile nation! Do you really believe that’s the goal of Judaism? I’ve never seen it written in the Torah.