Scribe writing Torah scroll
Scribe writing Torah scrolliStock

There is so much misleading Torah floating around the Internet it is almost a plague. I am referring to the Torah of Galut which denies the centrality of Eretz Yisrael to Jewish Life. These are the articles and lectures which don’t even mention the Land of Israel at all – as if the Torah was given to be observed in gentile lands. Nothing could be a greater distortion of truth. For instance, Torah lectures about how to be happy. The soul of a Jew cannot be happy in a foreign land. If a Jew is happy in South Florida, Brooklyn, or Las Vegas, he or she is out of touch with his or her soul.

You might think that getting close to Hashem is some big secret but it isn’t. The key was revealed to our forefather Avraham in Hashem’s very first communication with him: “Lech lecha” – “Get thee forth to the Land that I will show you” meaning the Promised Land, the Land of Israel. Until then Avraham had searched to find the One True G-d but his success was limited. So Hashem revealed Himself to Avraham and instructed him to go to the Holy Land, the Land of Hashem which Hashem gazes upon from the beginning of the year to the end” (Devarim 11:12). Only in the Holy Land could Avraham and the Jewish People form a pure and direct bond with their Creator.

This key was repeated to Moshe when Hashem first revealed Himself at the Burning Bush and instructed Moshe to take the Jews out of Egypt and bring them to the Chosen Land where they were to become G-d’s Chosen Nation (Shemot 3:8). Again and again, Hashem repeats this command to Moshe, more than any other mitzvah mentioned in the Torah, to bring the Children of Israel to the Land of Israel, the only place on Earth where we can become a Torah Nation. This is the key to Jewish Nationhood and to Jewish happiness and fulfilment. Here are but a few of the verses in the Book of Devarim which we are reading now which emphasize this foundation of a happy and secure Jewish life:

“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, 1:8).

“Behold, the L-rd thy G-d has set the LAND before thee; go up and possess it” (Devarim 1:21).

“Now therefore hearken, O Israel, to the statutes and to the laws which I teach you to do, that you may live and go in to POSSESS THE LAND….” (Devarim, 4:1).

“I have taught you statutes and laws that you should act accordingly IN THE LAND whither you go to possess,” (Ibid, 4:5).

“And the L-rd commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and laws that you may do them IN THE LAND into which you go over to possess,” (Ibid, 4:14).

“But you shall go over and possess the GOOD LAND,” (Ibid, 4:22).

“Thou shall therefore keep His statutes… that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, that you may prolong thy days ON THE LAND which the L-rd your G-d gives thee” (Ibid, 4:40).

“I will speak to thee all the commandments… which thou shall teach them that they may do them IN THE LAND which I gave them to possess” (Ibid, 5:28).

“That you may prolong your days IN THE LAND which you shall possess,” (Ibid, 5:30).

“Now this is the commandment… that you may do them IN THE LAND which you go in to possess,” (Ibid, 6:1).

“That you may increase mightily IN THE LAND that flows with milk and honey,” (Ibid, 6:3).

“And thou shall do everything that is good and right in the sight of the L-rd, that it may be well with thee, and you will go in and possess THE GOOD LAND,” (Ibid, 6:18).

“He brought us out of Egypt that He might bring us in, to give us THE LAND which He swore to our fathers,” (Ibid, 6:22).

The Torah and the Prophets of Israel tell us that life outside of the Land of Israel is a horrible curse. This is why King David moans: “How can we sing the L-rd’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137). Therefore, true Jewish happiness and closeness to G-d can only be attained when we return to the Land of Israel, as King David teaches: “When the L-rd brought the exiles back to Zion we were like those who dream. Our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with ringing song” (Psalm 126). Our yearly plea to Hashem, at the conclusion of Yom Kippur and the Pesach Seder, “Next year in Jerusalem,” echoes the eternal truth that Jews can only reach true fulfilment and closeness to Hashem when they dwell in the Land which Hashem created for His People.

Nonetheless, while the eternal key to Jewish happiness and fulfilment, for the individual and for the Jewish Nation as a whole, is quite evident and clear, a great many Jews turn their backs away and don’t want to hear this. Instead they would rather live in the foreign lands, ignoring the age-old reality that sooner or later they will be a hated minority in someone else’s country. This ever-recurring truth of Jewish History is something which they don’t want to face. Instead, they want to believe that they can be happy and close to G-d while remaining forever in gentile countries, exiled from the Homeland that Hashem gave to them as an everlasting heritage, the only place on the globe where the Jewish People can be who they truly are.

Realizing this, it seems Jewish Educators in the Diaspora, Jewish Organization Heads, Jewish Opinion Makers and Rabbis have learned that if they want to be popular and have their articles and youtube videos receive thousands of views, and have their posts on Facebook be “liked” by hundreds, then it is not a good idea to encourage Aliyah to the Land of Israel. Instead, the great majority of them tell people what they want to hear – that they can find closeness to Hashem and happiness without living in the Holy Land which Hashem chose for His Holy Nation. They lead their followers to believe that they can be faithfully attached to Hashem wherever they may be scattered around the world, even though Hashem told Avraham our forefather and Moshe Rabanu that this is not so.

In effect they lead their Diaspora readers, students, organization members, and congregants to believe that Hashem has changed His mind and that He is now happy that His children live in New York, South Florida, and Las Vegas. Those who believe in Mashiach teach their fellow Diaspora Jews to wait for Mashiach and to let Mashiach do all the work of rebuilding the Jewish Nation in Israel so that they can continue to happily pursue their lucrative careers and enjoy Caribbean vacations, make-believing that Hashem is contentedly standing by their side on the golf course directing their nine-iron shots toward the fluttering flag on the green.

Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Jewish Culture and Creativity. Before making Aliyah to Israel in 1984, he was a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbis A. Y. Kook and T. Y. Kook. His other books include: "The Kuzari For Young Readers" and "Tuvia in the Promised Land". His books are available on Amazon. Recently, he directed the movie, "Stories of Rebbe Nachman."