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.
My wife and I went to Tel Aviv this morning to pay a condolence call. The family sitting “shiva” lives near the seashore, a few blocks from Dizengoff Street, so afterwards, we strolled around to enjoy the summer weather and change of atmosphere.
What’s amazing about Tel Aviv is that everyone speaks Hebrew! At first glance, it doesn’t seem like the most religious place in the country, but everyone there, no matter how weird or secular he looks, speaks the Holy Tongue. Even a drunk who approached us for a handout spoke to us in Hebrew! The only people we met there who didn’t speak Hebrew was a busload of kids from the Birthright program.
Tel Aviv is filled with beautiful boutiques, sidewalk cafes, theaters, and art galleries. Its architecture along the seaside is very modern and creative. It has a bohemian, Paris-like feeling about it. My wife noted that the women were very beautiful and fashionably dressed, though modesty wasn’t one of their strong points. I kept my glance down at my shoes, so I can’t confirm her report. I know there are many devout Diasporians who are always screaming “Gevalt! The immodesty in Israel is terrible! Gevalt! There are so many heretics there! Gevalt! Tel Aviv is worse than Las Vegas!”
There is an interesting Midrash in “Yalkut Shimoney, Eichah” that describes G-d’s great anguish that His people are in exile, dwelling amongst the gentiles. “Gevalt!” G-d moans. “If only My children were with Me in Eretz Yisrael, even if they contaminate My Land with their sins.”
Our Sages tell us that G-d cries out at midnight with pain that His children are in foreign lands. “Woe to the father that has exiled his children!” In contrast, G-d is happy when His children are in Israel. Look what He has done in returning us to our borders! The city of Tel Aviv began as a sand dune. Today it is a booming modern metropolis, spreading for miles and miles in every direction. G-d has done all this!
I know there are people who aren’t happy with this state of affairs. They don’t agree with the way G-d is bringing about the Redemption. If they were G-d, they would do things differently. For one thing, they would limit the Redemption to religious Jews only. But G-d loves all Jews, the religious and the not yet religious. So in his great love and wisdom, He decided to give the secular Zionists the great mitzvah of resettling and rebuilding the Land of Israel after an exile of nearly two thousand years, a mitzvah that is equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah!
The sad truth is that the majority of religious Jews didn't know how to hold a shovel, let alone a rifle. And very few of them were willing to roll up their longjohns and risk their lives drying up malaria infested swamps. So Hashem gave the great honor to the Zionists.
I had a wonderful afternoon knowing that G-d loves Tel Aviv too! Look how He has raised it up out of the sand dunes and turned it into such a thriving dynamic city, filled with so many of His children, whom He has gathered together from the four corners of the world!
I can’t wait to go back there to visit!