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Torah Tidbits: 19 Years of Torah and Aliyah

Torah Tidbits - one of the loudest, clearest and longest-lasting voices for Torah and Aliyah - celebrated its 19th birthday this past Sabbath.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 6/23/2011, 2:33 PM / Last Update: 6/23/2011, 3:36 PM

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Torah Tidbits, one of the loudest, clearest and longest-lasting voices for Torah and Aliyah in the English-speaking world, celebrated its 19th birthday this past Sabbath.

The first issue of the now-international weekly Orthodox Union Israel Center publication was published on only one page 19 years ago in honor of the Sabbath known as “Parashat Shlach.” This refers to the Sabbath on which the Torah portion that describes the Nation of Israel’s sinful opposition to receiving the Land of Israel is read aloud – and it served as an appropriate backdrop to the message that has pervaded Torah Tidbits from that issue and until today.

As Tidbits founder, editor and lead-Tidbit writer Phil Chernofsky wrote in this week’s anniversary issue:

"The first[-ever] lead Tidbit… began with the ARIZAL [renowned 16th-century Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria]’s statement that [the first-fruits brought each year to the Holy Temple] are a rectification for the Sin of the Spies… Basically, the spies brought fruits of the Land of Israel and declared that Israel was a nice place to visit, but who would want to live there? In sharp contrast, the First-Fruits-bringer brings fruits of the Land to the Holy Temple and declares his thanks to G-d for living in Eretz Yisrael…

"Rav Menachem Zemba, may G-d avenge his death, of the Warsaw ghetto, pointed out that the Mishna [that teaches about first-fruits] mentions three specific fruits as examples: fig, grape, and pomegranate - the very three fruits that the spies brought back with them.”

Chernofsky – a long-time Israel National Radio show-host - then continued:

“A message of Torah Tidbits that we’ve presented many, many times - in many different ways - is the need for each of us - wherever we live - to ask ourselves (and others) where we stand: Would we have been turned away from Eretz Yisrael by the ten spies, or would we have rallied to the call of Kalev and Yehoshua to enthusiastically follow G-d’s Will for us to live in Eretz Yisrael? This is not a question calling upon us to speculate on what we would have said and done over 3,300 years ago. This is a question for TODAY… If we do not yet live here, is Aliyah on our agenda? What attitude do we have about living in Israel? How are we raising our children in this respect?”

“Torah-observant Jews try to raise their children to love Torah and its commandments, to keep Shabbat, kashrut, and so much more. What are we teaching our children about settling the Land of Israel?”

Torah Tidbits issue 957, which completed 19 years of Torah Tidbits, comprised a 68-page booklet and an additional 32-page Shavuot holiday pull-out. Over 9,200 copies were distributed in synagogues and other locations all over Israel. It is also available over the internet