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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.
Some people think that bloggers have skins as thick as water buffalos, but bloggers are people too. Bloggers have feelings like everyone else. Over the course of my blogging career, I have absorbed as many blows as Joe Frazier in the “Thriller in Manilla” but I have kept on my feet, punching away, believing that the message of Torat Eretz Yisrael is more important than my personal feelings.
Now the accusation: TZVI, YOU HAVE TWISTED THE TRUTH AS USUAL!
This hurts me deeply. After all, I, and my fellow distinguished bloggers at INN, sacrifice our time, without remuneration, to present the real side of Judaism from the Holy Land. I always strive to be truthful. If I could choose a motto for my blog, it would be: “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
So when someone accuses me of twisting the truth of the Torah this hurts me deeply.
Even before I discovered the Torah, I always tried to be honest. One of the stories I most remember from my childhood is the legend of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree (which would be a big no-no for a Jew in Israel.)
That’s why, when I began reading the Torah and started to become religious and pray, I took the words to mean exactly what they said, without twisting them this way or that to fit what was comfortable for me.
For instance, every day before reading the Shema, we ask G-d to “shatter the yoke of the gentiles from around our necks and speedily bring us upright into our Land.”
So that’s what I asked G-d to do literally, just as the words say, to bring me to Israel. Is there any other way to understand this verse? Isn’t that what it says? Is there something “twisted” in my interpretation of this?
Also, in the Amidah prayer, we say, “Blow the great shofar for our freedom, and upraise a banner to gather in our exiles, and gather us together speedily from the four corners of the world to our Land.”
Wanting to be as honest as could with G-d, when I said the words of this blessing, I also yearned to be including in the great ingathering of Jews to Israel.
Now I also learned that when a Jew prays for something, he doesn’t sit idly around and wait for it to happen, he exerts himself in that direction and trusts that G-d will provide the means to bring the request about. For instance, we don’t just pray for a livelihood, we also go out and work. We don’t just pray for sustenance, we buy food and eat it. We don’t just pray for recovering from an illness, we go to the doctor and follow his instructions in order to get better, knowing that G-d works healing through doctors and medicines when he sees fit to do so. We don’t just making a blessing on the lulav, we pick it up and wave it. It’s exactly the same with the ingathering of Jews to Eretz Yisrael. We don’t wait for G-d to bring us home to Israel on a magic carpet, we buy a ticket and board a plane. That’s Judaism.
So, since our prayers tell us to go to Israel, I went to Israel. Isn't that why we pray - to achieve the things we pray for? Now, will someone please explain to me – how is this twisting the truth?
Speaking about cherry trees – tomorrow night is Tu B’Shvat, the New Year for trees in Israel. Since I have lots to do to get ready for the joyous party we always have at our house, with dozens of varieties of fruits from our beloved Holy Land, and Torah discussions, and wonderful Israeli wine, I don’t know if I will find the time to write a holiday blog, so let me wish you all a Happy New Year!
May the words of your prayers and blessings always be true!