HOT in Eilat
Tzvi FishmanBefore making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter....
My family has just returned from a three-day vacation in Eilat. I have to admit, it was a big mistake taking them there. A disaster is more like it. If you remember, my wife and I toured the town a few months ago, visiting our daughter, who is doing her National “Sherut Leumi” Service there. Back then it was winter time, and the hotel we stayed at was relatively deserted. So we enjoyed the serenity and the beauty of the mountainous seaside resort.
But this time it was summer, and I let the discount coupon we received from our previous visit to lead me astray by making our booking at the lovely resort hotel. I have to confess – this time, I was totally blown away. I have never seen more bikinis, mini-mini shorts, and itsy bitsy blouses in my life. Everywhere I looked. All over the place. In the hotel lobby, at the pool, on the streets of the city. It was overwhelming. It took my breath away. SHhhhhhhwwwwweeew! Perhaps it was those gasping exhalations, and my overpounding heart that caused the terrible tornadoes on the other side of the ocean which were raging the very same time that my head was spinning frantically around and around in Eilat.
Now I try to guard my eyes, but this time it was impossible. I failed the test completely. Zero on the scorecard. Out for the count. Bonkers! It made my head dizzy. And my soul took a beating. I could actually feel it, as if each time I looked, I was tagged with a vicious right hook, like Smoking Joe Frazier must have felt going the distance with Mohammed Ali in the Thriller in Manila.
Now, I don’t want to make it seem like I’m holier than thou. I mean, I’ve been around. But I never experience anything like this – not in my Hollywood days on the beaches of California, not on the Riviera, or in my wanderings through the Caribbean. While I am ashamed of myself for looking, I have to report that amongst the many superlatives of the Land of Israel, we also have absolutely the most beautiful women in the world!
The problem is that when a Jew gazes at a women to enjoy her beauty, he does more damage to his soul than if he had eaten a lobster or a piece of pork. Transgressing the kosher laws blemishes the “nefesh,” the lowest level of the soul, while seeing something forbidden blemishes a much higher aspect of the soul, since the eyes are windows to the most elevated spiritual worlds of the “neshamah.” In effect, he pulls out the plug connecting him to G-d, because holiness and its opposite cannot exist together in harmony. Furthermore, if he is married, every time he gazes at the beauty of a strange woman, whether it be in the office, the hotel swimming pool, or on the street, he cuts off the flow of blessing that was originally destined for his wife, and this Divine “shefa” or spiritual bounty is wasted, and diverted to realms of impurity, polluting himself, his wife, his children, and the “Shechinah” herself. Because a man and his wife are one united soul, she instinctively feels his betrayal with her spiritual radar, and she is likely to be waiting for him when he comes home from the office with an outburst of anger and a frying pan straight to his head. And if his children suffer from headaches, allergies, problems at school, and the like, he should know that it all comes from his errant behavior, because they too are a part of his soul and suffer for his wrongdoings as well.
What this very difficult vacation taught me was that everything I have been writing about the importance of guarding one’s eyes is 100 percent true. Even though I only took my kids to swim in the pool at 7:00 in the morning before all the ¾ naked women arrived, and hid myself away from the crowd in a corner of the breakfast hall, as far from the pool as I could get, and by-passed the lobby by taking the long way around the hotel, and frequented the men-only section of the beach, all of my efforts were of little avail.
So my dear brothers, please believe me. The warnings of our Sages are true. It is a mistake to take their teachings lightly by thinking that they exaggerated in their descriptions of the damage our eyeballs can cause by gazing at the beauty of women.
How wonderful it was to return to Jerusalem! True, with the summer heat spell, not every woman dresses in the Holy City as religiously as she should, but compared to Eilat, they are models of modest behavior, and I won’t be spraying them with my paintball rifle this year to teach them a lesson.
This time the lesson was mine and I failed. I suppose that’s how you learn, like with the Jews in the wilderness on their way to Eretz Yisrael. But more about that in the Torah portions to come.