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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.
Some readers ask me why I waste my time trying to convince Jews in the Diaspora to come on aliyah. They say it’s a losing cause. The truth is, it’s my feeling that the message I try to convey is important not only to our brothers and sisters still groping in the darkness of exile, but also to those of us who have already been blessed with the incomparable light and blessing of living in the Holy Land, the Land of our Forefathers, G-d’s chosen Land, where the Torah is meant to be kept.
We too can become tarnished in the day-to-day routines of life and take our being in Israel for granted. That’s why I remind myself every morning that I’m in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of the Torah, the Land of my holy Forefathers, the Land that Hashem watches over with a special Divine Providence from the beginning of the year to the end. It’s absolutely mind blowing. Not even Moshe merited this great privilege, and here I am, living out his dream!
In truth, the human mind cannot grasp the exalted holiness of Eretz Yisrael. The Land of Israel is on such a lofty spiritual plane that our limited intellects cannot even begin to comprehend its uniqueness. For instance, many people complain about the political situation here, believing that’s all that there is, as if Israel is a country like any other. But Eretz Yisrael is so much more than that. That’s why we are commanded to live here even if the Land is filled with idol worship. But for people whose main concern in life is physical comfort, or what they are eating at their next meal, their slavery to materialism allows them no inkling of the spiritual treasures of the Holy Land.
There are many reasons why Jews in the Diaspora find it difficult, if not impossible, to fathom to uniqueness and towering holiness of Eretz Yisrael, and the obligation to live here.
For instance, if someone doesn’t keep kosher, he not only pollutes his body, he pollutes his mind as well. The vapors of the cheeseburgers and lobsters he eats rise from his stomach to his brain, where they become like clouds of pollution, smogging his mind, and clogging his spiritual channels. The Torah warns us not to make ourselves impure by eating traf foods, and the Talmud explains the words of the verse “al titamu bahem v’nitmatem bam,” that their consumption causes not only physical impurity, but also spiritual numbness, clogging the heart and mind, and blocking all wisdom (Yoma 39A, and Rashi there.) Therefore a cheeseburger eater will not be able to appreciate the holiness of Eretz Yisrael.
Similarly, someone who pollutes his eyes by looking at immodest websites on the Internet also pollutes his mind and severs himself from spirituality. This is the reason we established the jewishsexuality.com website, to help guide people out of the chains of Internet pornography and its addictions. Certainly, a person who pollutes his soul in this fashion will not be able to experience the special spiriual delights of Eretz Yisrael.
For people who are careful to eat kosher food only, keep away from forbidden websites, and dutifully follow the laws of the Torah, Rabbi Kook has a profound insight in explaining how they too can be estranged from recognizing, understanding, and cherishing the special treasures of Eretz Yisrael. He writes:
“By being alienated from the secrets of Torah, the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael is understood in a foggy, unfocused fashion (Orot, 1:2).
Someone who doesn’t learn the deeper levels of Torah and thinks that Judaism is merely the performance of personal commandments like eating kosher, putting on tefillin, and keeping Shabbat, he or she will not feel a need for a holy Jewish homeland where the Torah can be kept in its true national fashion, by a holy NATION in a holy LAND. In his focus on the individual commandments and rituals, he won’t even notice that the entire goal of Judaism is missing from his life - the Redemption of the nation through the ingathering of the exiles to Eretz Yisrael, and the establishment of the Kingdom of G-d in the world through the life of the Nation of Israel in Israel, even though we request this, again and again, in all of our prayers.
As Rabbi Kook writes:
“For to someone who only comprehends the superficial level, nothing will be lacking in the absence of the Land of Israel, the Jewish Kingdom, and all the facets of the nation in its built form. For him, the foundation of the yearning for Redemption from the exile is like a side branch that cannot be united with the deep understanding of Judaism, and this itself testifies to the poverty of this juiceless perspective (idid.)
Instead of the big picture, panoramic, wide screen, Dolby stereo Judaism of the Torah, he is contented with his private pocket iPod.
In the next blog, we will, G-d willing, continue this topic with some more insights from the writings of Rabbi Kook.