Time flies my good friends. Time flies. For those of you who are still wallowing in the darkness of galut, all of my efforts have failed. I am heartbroken. Beloved brothers are drowning in quicksand and don’t even reach out their hands to be freed. True, some readers have been influenced by my writings. There are even fortunate ones who, hearing the call, have peeled away the layers and layers of Diaspora darkness and come to live in the Holy Land, to bathe in its celestial light. But as our Sages have taught us, at the end of galut, the Holy One Blessed Be He Himself will have to come and forcefully drag the Jews out from the exile by their peyes in order to bring them home.
Once again, we are beginning to read the Book of Devarim, and once again, we will repeat its simple lesson, in the hope that this year, Hashem will open the eyes of our brothers and sisters in their self-imposed captivity in foreign gentile lands to see the eternal truth of the Torah.
This time, it’s not Tzvi Fishman, but Moshe Rabbeinu himself who tells the Diaspora lovers that the time has come to go to Israel, as it says: “Moshe began to explain the Torah, saying, The L-rd our G-d spoke to us in Horev saying: ‘You have dwelt long enough in this mountain – turn and take up your journey! Behold, I have set the Land before you: go in and possess the Land which the L-rd swore to your forefathers, Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov, to give to them and to their seed after them’” (Devarim, 1:6-8).
“To their seed after them” – that’s us. You and me. G-d gave us the Land of Israel to possess it. You and me. He wants us to live there. Can anything be more simple than that?
What is so difficult to understand? What is so confusing? Where is there room for doubt?
To be absolutely certain that the Jews understood, and to be sure that all of their offspring, for all generations to come, would also understand the simple meaning of these words, G-d had Moshe explain this command in 70 languages (see Rashi, there) so that the Jews living in America, and Russia, and France, and Spain, and Brazil, and Holland, and Germany, and Italy, and every other country of the Diaspora would also understand that G-d wants us to live in Israel. Comprenez vous?
Our Sages teach us that the seeds of the Temple’s destruction were planted on the night (Tisha B’Av) when the Jews in the wilderness rejected the Divine command to journey on to the Land of Israel. The people who rebelled against the commandment of living in Israel were rebelling against Hashem, as the Torah testifies, “And when the L-rd sent you from Kadesh Barnea, saying, ‘Go up and possess the Land which I gave you,’ and you rebelled against the L-rd your G-d, and you did not believe in Me and did not listen to My voice” (Devarim, 9:3).
This week, as Tisha B’Av nears, I visited the graves of some of our holy Tzaddikim, to pray for the ingathering of our exiles, that Hashem put in our hearts a love and passion for Eretz Yisrael, as a tikun for the sin of the Spies, whose rejection of the Land led to the Temple’s destruction and to the destruction of the nation. I started at the graves of Rabbi Kook (who made aliyah) and his son, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda, on the Mount of Olives. Then I visited the graves of the great Kabbalist, the Chida, and Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi, Rabbi Shlomo Calebach, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, and Rabbi Yisrael Odessa of Breslov, Rabbi Meir Kahane, all buried on Har HaMenuchot. Then, after praying at the tomb of the prophet Shmuel, I drove up to Meron and prayed at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. In Safed, I prayed at the graves of the Arizal and Rabbi Yosef Caro. In Tiberias, I prayed at the tombs of the Rambam, the Shlah HaKadosh, Rabbi Akiva, the Ramcal, and Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess. The following morning, I drove to Hevron to pay my respects Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaacov, Sarah, Rivka, Leah, and to Rachel in Beit Lechem, praying that, in their merit, G-d gather our scattered outcasts from Brooklyn and Melbourne and Palm Springs and Mexico City, by filling their hearts with a love for Israel and the courage to make aliyah, in order to rectify the sin of the Spies who trembled when they saw the giants in the Land, just like those who tremble today at the “giant” missiles of Iran which, they scream, are pointed our way.
After visiting our holy Forefathers and some of the holy Sages of our past, the giants of our history who so cherished our Land, and lived here in their towering faith, and often journeyed months to reach here, and live here, even in poverty and danger, my heart was filled with faith that G-d would surely answer my prayers and instill in the hearts of all of my brothers and sisters the very same love for the Land and the same holy courage that our forefathers possessed, thereby rectifying the sin of the Spies and paving the way for the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash.
May it be soon!