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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.
Concluding the memorial tribute to Rabbi Meir Kahane, may Hashem avenge his murder, here is the final abridged portion of the chapter, "The Mitzvah to Live in Eretz Yisrael," from his book, "The Jewish Idea:"
The Blight of Assimilation
How many souls have been lost and destroyed under the press of assimilation in the exile! “For she has cast down many wounded; yea, a mighty host are all her slain” (Prov. 7:26). Surely, this, alone, makes every Jew duty-bound to “cry out, and not hold back!” (Isa. 58:1).
As Isaiah proclaimed, “Depart! Depart! Get out of there! Out of her midst! Touch nothing impure! Be you clean, you who bear the L-rd’s vessels” (Isa. 52:11). Isaiah is calling upon Israel, the “bearers of the L-rd’s vessels,” because they bear the yoke of G-d’s mitzvot, to depart the defilement of the exile. Metzudat David comments, “Cleanse yourselves of all defilement, you who bear the L-rd’s vessels,” and Ibn Ezra comments:
“Get out of there”: Every single Jew from the place of his exile; “Touch no unclean thing”: Separate yourselves from the nations of the world; “Get out of her midst”: Everyone from the country of his exile.
Rashi wrote, “‘Get out of her midst’: The midst of the exile.”
Likewise, Jeremiah said regarding the Babylonian exile, “Flee the midst of Babylon! Exit the land of the Chaldeans! Be the he-goats before the flock!” (Jer. 50:8). Mahari Kra comments, “Jeremiah told them, ‘I know that in the future, whoever is in Babylonia will die by the spear or sword... so flee first, before calamity comes.’”
Today, when the last redemption looms before us and the Mashiach’s traces are visible, and when we have already merited, through G-d’s kindness, to return to Eretz Yisrael and establish a state, G-d’s cry is heard in all its might. Depart! Get out! Depart the defilement of exile, in order to be separated from the nations and protect the purity of G-d’s Torah; in order to save Jewish souls from the blight of assimilation; in order to sanctify Heaven’s Name by shedding foreign control.
What mental gymnastics and sophistries are employed to justify loathing the Desirable Land!
The very exile is a Chilul Hashem, a desecration of Hashem. I shall further expand on this most basic principle, yet it would be worthwhile right here to explain that the very exile is a Chilul Hashem, and our return to Eretz Yisrael is the opposite — Kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of Hashem. The nations’ having control over a Jew, and Israel’s lowliness in the exile, are called Chilul Hashem, in that the non-Jew rules over the People of Israel, and thereby, over the G-d of Israel. I have already made clear that this is Rashi’s intent regarding the verse, “My Holy Name will I make known in the midst of My people Israel. Neither will I suffer My Holy Name to be profaned any more. The nations shall know that I am the L-rd, Holy One of Israel” (Ezek. 39:7). Rashi said, “Israel’s lowliness is a Chilul Hashem, in that the nations say of them, ‘These are the L-rd’s people, [and they are gone forth out of His land]’ (Ezek. 36:20), yet He is unable to save them.”
The very conquest of Eretz Yisrael by the nations, and Israel’s exile from its land, allow the non-Jew to think that there is no G-d in Israel, Heaven forbid; because if there were, and if He were truly all-powerful, He would not let the nations destroy His land and Temple, and exile His people. Even if Israel do not endure real suffering at the non-Jew’s hand, the very fact that they must live in their lands at their mercy, dependent on their tolerance and benevolence, is a Chilul Hashem. Only when Israel dwell in sovereignty and might in their own land is G-d’s Name sanctified. If Israel stubbornly refuse to leave the exile, G-d — with fury poured out — will liquidate their exile in order to blot out the Chilul Hashem. Now is surely the time to “flee before calamity comes.”
In a word, the idea of Israel living under the dominion of the nations and their alien culture, is by definition a Chilul Hashem, and clashes with G-d’s will to establish a chosen, treasured people in a chosen, treasured land. There, Israel would be separated and isolated from the nations’ cultures and alien beliefs, fulfill pristine, complete Torah lives, and establish a sovereign, independent state and society under G-d’s rule, and that is a Kiddush Hashem.
Every Jew has a sacred, absolute duty to live in Eretz Yisrael, because living in the exile contradicts and profanes G-d’s will.
What mental gymnastics and sophistries are employed to justify loathing the Desirable Land! Just as G-d liquidated the exile in Egypt and allowed no Jew to remain, killing those who refused to leave for Eretz Yisrael, so, too, in this period of final redemption, G-d will liquidate the exile with fury poured out and will annihilate any who refuse to leave it — Heaven help us!
G-d is Creator of the universe and Owner and Master of the earth and all it contains: “The earth is the L-rd’s, and the fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1). He gave Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish People as their land, to enable them to fulfill their mission of building a state and society in accordance with the laws and foundations of the Holy Torah: “He gave them the lands of nations; they inherited people’s toils, that they might keep His statutes and observe His laws” (Ps. 105:44-45).
G-d took Eretz Yisrael from the nations who lived there and saw it as their home and birthplace, and He did it for one simple reason, the only reason that could justify Israel’s taking the land: because G-d, Who fashioned and created the universe, is its Owner and Master. He acquired the universe by having created it, and men, who are likewise just G-d’s creations, occupants in G-d’s house, are not entitled to protest. If G-d wishes, He brings a specific people into a specific home, or land, and if He wishes, He removes them, and they have no mastery over a land unless He permits them to live there.
As far as Eretz Yisrael is concerned, no apologies or justifications are necessary. The Jewish People came to the land where the seven nations dwelled and took it from them by decree of the Owner. G-d uprooted the nations who dwelled there and brought in His chosen people, Israel, because the land is His and does not belong to those who lived there as occupants.
All the nations who claim that we, Israel, are pillagers, are hypocrites. After all, many nations took lands from nations who lived on them without any right or pretext for doing so. For example, the Kaftorim annihilated the Avvim and occupied their land. [See Deut. 2 for further examples of nations who pillaged other nations and took their lands.]
The world and all it contains is G-d’s. When He so desired, He took it from you and gave it to us. Thus it says, “He has declared to His people the power of His works in giving them the lands of nations” (Ps., Ibid.).
Before Israel respond to the nations with the main answer, that the world belongs to G-d, they can advance a side argument, namely: How can you and the Canaanites attempt to pose as innocent? After all, Eretz Yisrael was given to the descendants of Shem, and the Canaanites, descendants of Ham, took it from them. As Rashi wrote regarding the verse, “The Canaanites were then in the Land” (Gen. 12:6): “The Canaanites were gradually conquering Eretz Yisrael from Shem’s descendants, for it had fallen to Shem’s portion when Noah divided up the earth amongst his sons.”
Thus, in response to the nations’ claim that Israel stole the Land, Israel can respond that the Land belonged to the sons of Shem, the Canaanites took it from them, and they are the thieves.
Afterward comes the main argument: The world and all it contains were created by G-d and belong to Him. He is the Owner, and He gives to whomever He wishes and takes from whomever He wishes. He chose Israel to be His chosen people, His supreme, treasured nation, and He gave them the Land to be theirs and not the Canaanites’.
It also says, “He will drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you, so as to bring you to their land, and give it to you as a heritage, as He is doing today” (Deut. 4:38). S’forno comments, “‘To give you [their land]’: Which is the land of G-d, ready to acquire the perfection directed from Above.” It likewise says (Deut. 6:10-11):
“To give you great, flourishing cities that you did not build. You will also have houses filled with all good things that you did not put there, finished cisterns that you did not quarry, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant. You shall eat and be satisfied.”
Thus, there really is no place for apologies and self-justification before the nations, and no need to seek “moral” pretexts for conquering Eretz Yisrael. It belongs to the Creator of the universe, the Owner and Master of the world. He took it away from the evildoers and gave it to us, and there is no higher morality than this - nor any greater acceptance of G-d’s yoke. Neither the nations nor Israel can claim any ownership of the earth. As it says, “All the earth is Mine. You are foreigners and resident aliens as far as I am concerned” (Lev. 25:23). To G-d belongs all the earth — it and all it contains are His alone. It also says, “Mine is the silver and Mine the gold” (Haggai 2:8); and, “For all things come of You, and of Your Own have we given You” (I Chron. 29:14).
Among the nations and the alien culture, all sorts of outlooks have been formed regarding property, and despite the superficial differences between them, all are based on the perception that the world and property belong to man. In this regard, there is no difference between what the non-Jews call “Capitalism,” “Socialism” or “Communism.” Whether a non-Jew argues that property is a private possession or argues that it belongs to society, he means that it is the property of man.
Not so, G-d, Whose Torah states that everything belongs to Him, and that property and possessions were given to mankind only for use. Thus, when G-d decrees that we must give tzedakah, it is our duty to do so. Tzedakah does not at all come from the property of the wealthy man. He has no ownership whatsoever over what is given him by Heaven. Hence, we force a man to give what G-d’s tzedek, justice, dictates that he give. Such is our sages’ intent in Avot 3:7, “Give to G-d of His own, for you and yours are His,” as well as in Torat Kohanim, Behar, 4:8: “The Land is Mine” (Lev. 25:23): “Do not scorn it.”
In any event, it is plain that Eretz Yisrael, G-d’s property, was given to Israel as their resting place and inheritance, their place to be set apart and isolated, to establish and maintain a perfect Torah state and society, a place where they will be immune to the depraved influence of the alien culture.
G-d took the Land from the nations and removed them from it, and He brought Israel into it so that they would keep His Torah and mitzvot. From the moment G-d decided to give the Land to Israel, it became Eretz Yisrael, the Land of the People of Israel — G-d’s land which He gave Israel to use as the Holy Land.
It is a mitzvah and duty upon every Jew to live in Eretz Yisrael, and a Chilul Hashem when Israel lives outside of it. Furthermore, once G-d decreed that Israel must be separated from the nations and their alien, dominant culture, it clearly is forbidden to let the non-Jew live in Eretz Yisrael unless he is denied mastery and sovereignty over the Land and willingly accepts this. No non-Jew has the slightest right to ownership over the Land, and any non-Jew who denies G-d’s mastery and the ownership of His people Israel over the whole Land is rebelling against G-d, denying G-d’s sovereignty on earth and profaning G-d’s Name. He has one fate — to leave the Land or to relinquish his right to existence.