Hypersomnia: Jewish excessive sleeping disorder

President Trump understands that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish Nation – when will the world’s Jews?

Tzvi Fishman

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This land is our land

Allow me to comment on two news stories which appeared this week on the Arutz Sheva website. One concerned the gathering of 300 European Rabbis in Bucharest. The Rabbis expressed the need to, “wake up the EU from its dangerous slumber,” with regard to increasing anti-Semitism.  

Excuse my Rumanian, but it is the Rabbis and Jews of Europe who need to wake up from their dangerous slumber, not the goyim!

There is an interesting insight into the Purim Megilla on precisely this Jewish Hypersomnia Syndrome – excessive sleeping disorder. The wicked Haman informs King Achashverus, “There is a certain nation scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are different from all the people; nor do they keep the king’s laws; therefore it is of no benefit to the king to tolerate them.” Sounds a little like Europe today, no, with the efforts to ban kosher laws, the ritual slaughter of animals, and circumcision?

In Hebrew, the verse from the Megilla begins, “Yashno am echad,” meaning, “There is a certain people….” The holy Arizal teaches that the words should be understood in another sense as well, meaning, “Yashno am,” meaning, “There is a nation who sleeps,” from the Hebrew word, “shaina,” for sleep. We know the disaster that lay ahead for the Jews of Persia, but they had “fallen asleep” and forgotten the Divine imperative to rebuild Jewish life in the Land of Israel. Some things don’t seem to change!

A video clip showed the 300 Rabbis at the conference singing the song, “Ani Maamin,” expressing how we wait for Mashiach and believe in his coming, even though he delays. Enough waiting! G-d has given us jumbo jets with kosher food to whisk the Jews to Ben Gurion Airport in four hours of easy flight time from Europe, with a movie to boot (instead of a boot kicking them out!)

Dear Rabbis, get the Jews out of Europe before it’s too late! Either through persecution or assimilation – the Jews of Europe don’t have a future in those bloodstained lands. Yet, when asked if the Jews of France should pack up their bags and leave, one of the Rabbis from France said (possibly afraid to say different?) “Certainly not. Jews have been living in France for centuries. They are a part of the history and culture of the French nation. We are safe here. The French Government has taken impressive measures to combat anti-Semitism and it has ISIS under control.”

We’ve heard empty assurances like this before. Only Rabbi Yaacov Shapira, Rosh Yeshiva of Mercaz Harav in Jerusalem, told everyone at the convention that the solution lies in coming home to Israel – not in appealing to the Gentiles to make the exile a nicer place.

The other Arutz Sheva story that attracted my attention was the truly upbeat report of a wonderful visit to Israel for 700 Diaspora Jews with the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI), led by the Chabad Movement. Kol hakavod, gentlemen! More power to you! The group toured the country, meeting influential Israeli personalities, soldiers, and happy Israelis. The trip’s impressive attendance was partly inspired by a six-session course created by JLI last year throughout the Diaspora entitled Survival of a Nation: Exploring Israel Through the Lens of the Six-Day War. Visitors said that the trip made their learning come alive for them in a much deeper, first-hand fashion. Very praiseworthy indeed!

Not a means, but the goal itself

Nevertheless, allow me to explain another deep teaching, this time from Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook Israel's first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, the Torah luminary who founded Religious Zionism. The very first sentence of his classic book, Orot, about the Redemption of the Jewish People in our time, begins, “The Land of Israel is not a peripheral matter, an external acquisition of the Nation. It is not merely a means toward the goal of the general coagulation of the Nation, nor of strengthening its material existence, nor even its spiritual.”

In beginning his treatise with a series of essays on Eretz Yisrael, Rabbi Kook explains that a proper understanding of the Nation of Israel and Torah can only be obtained after one first recognizes the significance of the Land of Israel to the Jewish People as the place Hashem has chosen for us to live. To understand who we are as a Nation, and to actualize our unique role in the world, we first have to understand the special relationship between the Divinely-Chosen People and the Divinely-Chosen Land.

Rabbi Kook stresses that the connection between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel is not a peripheral matter – a “Jewish learning experience. As Rabbi Kook continues to explain, the Land of Israel is an absolute foundation of the Jewish Nation. The Jewish People without the Land of Israel are not the essential Jewish People, but rather a mere shadow of their inner potential. Instead of being the JEWISH NATION, we are scattered individuals, with foreign citizenships and identities, living private lives – the “Dry Bones” of Ezekiel’s famous prophecy regarding our lack of true Jewish NATIONAL life in the exile.

The thought that Eretz Yisrael is an accessory to Judaism, a “Jewish Disneyland,” meaning a cool place to visit on a Birthright program or JLI tour in order to strengthen one’s Jewish identity and connection to Yiddishkeit, this is a tragic distortion which was caused by the nearly 2000 year exile of the Jewish People from the Land of Israel. After years of wandering in foreign countries, scattered among the Gentiles, and separated from our Homeland, our orientation to the Land of Israel became distorted and confused. Instead of being a day-to-day reality integral to our lives, Eretz Yisrael became a faraway dream.

In our Diaspora existence, the most important aspects of Judaism were the matters which affected our daily lives – Torah study, prayer, the Sabbath, Kashrut, and the precepts which we were still able to perform. Eretz Yisrael became something of secondary importance – a place to which we would one day return, but not an essential part of the Jewish experience.

In reality, the Diaspora is the means, and Eretz Yisrael is the goal – not the other way around, as the well-meaning people who organize these “learning experiences” in Israel like participants to believe.
This misconception results when we misunderstand the true culture of the Jewish People. The foundation of our culture is not just the holidays and the performance of precepts, but in our being the NATION which brings the word and blessing of G-d to the world through our NATIONAL life in Zion. The Torah is the Constitution of the NATION. Our NATIONAL attachment to G-d, through our own Israeli Government, and Army, and Hebrew language, and Israeli economy, and Jerusalem as our National Center, not Brooklyn, can be achieved exclusively through the Land of Israel, through the life of the Jewish People in the Holy Land.

In Rabbi Kook’s language:

"The thought regarding Eretz Yisrael that it has merely a peripheral value to facilitate the subsistence of the unified Nation; even when it comes to fortify the concept of Judaism of the Diaspora, in order to preserve its form, and to strengthen the belief and fear of Hashem, and to strengthen the performance of the commandments in a proper fashion – this orientation toward Eretz Yisrael is not worthy of lasting fruition, for its foundation is rickety in light of the towering, unshakable holiness of Eretz Yisrael."

A shot of identity adrenaline?

Turning the Land of Israel into a seven-day injection of adrenaline in order to strengthen Judaism and Jewish Identity in the Diaspora, although a worthwhile encounter, is selling a watered-down brand of Torah. Eretz Yisrael is not an out-of-classroom field trip in a course in Jewish Studies. It is the place where Hashem wants the Jewish People to live. If you don’t tell this truth to visiting Jews while they are here, you are keeping them buried in the darkness of exile with a myopic understanding of Torah and their mission and destiny as Jews.

President Trump understands that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish Nation – when will the world’s Jews?

As Rabbi Kook concludes: "The concept of Judaism in the Diaspora will only find true strength through the depth of its involvement in Eretz Yisrael. Only through its longing for Eretz Yisrael will Diaspora Judaism continue to have strength to survive. The yearning for Salvation from the exile gives the Judaism of the Diaspora its power of stamina; whereas the Judaism of Eretz Yisrael is the Salvation itself."

In reality, the Diaspora is the means, and Eretz Yisrael is the goal – not the other way around, as the well-meaning people who organize these “learning experiences” in Israel like participants to believe. In reality, the exile is merely a way station, a detention center, a transitory stop until we return to our true life in Israel. Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael is the true goal of the Torah. It is Diaspora existence which is peripheral, external, secondary to Judaism, like spring training in baseball, just a period of warm-up before the real season begins. Complete Jewish Identity and Judaism can only be found in Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael. We no longer have to wait and sing about Mashiach – we can come to the Land of Israel on our own!