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July 28, 2014 / 1 Av, 5774
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Don’t Confuse Torah with Buddhism, My Friends

Torah

For example, a gentile can be a Buddhist or Christian anywhere he wants. The Pope lives in the Vatican, but there is no obligation for any other Christian or Catholic to live there. The same holds true for Islam, Buddhism, of Hinduism. These are religions, period, with a division between church and state. Not so with Torah. The Torah encompasses the entire life of the Jewish People, the religious and National as well. But when we were severed from our earthy base, the Land of Israel, where Hashem wants us to established the Nationhood of Israel, we were left with a truncated “Judaism” – the religious rituals of the exiled tribe of Judah, which could still be practiced in galut, but without the Torah’s Divine National Format and National Laws. Instead of being a Nation, a Clal, we became scattered individuals in foreign gentile lands.

This is what the Spies failed to understand. Even though they were respected Torah scholars and the heads of the tribes, they wanted to make do with exile “Judaism” alone, content with just the personal precepts, without the hassle of conquering and settling the Land. And this same misunderstanding has continued to this day, when you can still find many people, Torah communities amongst them, who just want to observe a handful of individual precepts in the wilderness of foreign lands, without having to worry about the hassle of settling the Land of Israel and fighting for it in order to keep it under Jewish sovereignty as the Torah commands.

This is why, in this week’s parsha, Moshe had to go over the teachings of the Torah as we were about to enter the Promised Land. The Spies and their rebellious generation had all died in punishment for not wanting to make aliyah, but the pernicious influence of their tragic misunderstanding still remained. So at the very beginning of the Book of Devarim, Moshe begins to explain the Torah, as it says, “Moshe began to explain the Torah….” (Devarim, 1:6).

Rashi comments that Moshe explained the Torah in 70 languages. Apparently, he prophetically knew that the Jews would one day be scattered around the world, where they would speak French and Spanish and German and Russian and English and Yiddish, and Moshe didn’t want them to have the excuse, “We didn’t know we were supposed to live in Israel – we don’t speak Hebrew, so how can you blame us for not understanding the Torah?” So Moshe made sure to teach the Torah in 70 languages, so that every Jew would know.

And what is the very first thing Moshe teaches the Nation, who are all waiting to hear the explanation of the Torah from Moshe himself? You can read the words yourself:

“Moshe began to explain the Torah, saying, the Lord our God spoke to us in Horev, saying, ‘You have dwelt long enough in this mountain – Turn and take up your journey – go to the Land of Israel! Behold, I have set the land before you, go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov, to give them, and, to their seed after them.” (Devarim, 1:6-8).

The Torah wasn’t given to be kept in Sinai, nor in Brooklyn or Beverly Hills. The Torah isn’t a “religion” like Buddhism or Christianity, God forbid. The Torah isn’t some abstract spirituality floating like cloud in the sky. The Torah has an earthly base. Not Sinai. Not Brooklyn. The Torah is the Divine constitution of the Nation of Israel, and every Nation needs its own Land. And the holy Children of Israel have their own unique Holy Land.

What is the first and fundamental message that Moshe explains when he teaches the Torah to Am Yisrael? Not Shabbos. Not kashrus. You want to know what Torah is? You want to keep it? Go in and possess the Land! That’s the basis of Torah.

This is the teaching which Moshe wanted to sink into our skulls and our hearts in order to uproot the tragic error of the Spies. We are to be our own Holy Nation with our own Holy Land, and not live as a minority in someone else’s country performing a handful of religious precepts. That may be the “Judaism” of the exile, but it isn’t real Torah.

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." For the past several years, he has written a popular and controversial blog at Arutz 7. A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press


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29 Responses to “Don’t Confuse Torah with Buddhism, My Friends”

  1. Liad Bar-el says:

    EXCELLENT! Right to the point.

  2. Charlotte Barber says:

    Judaism is a religion you can say the same about any holy book than what he is saying about the Torah.

  3. Charlotte Barber says:

    This is just trying to justify land occupation and wars.

  4. Robert Soran von Grosswardein says:

    Is manipulative insanity and lying creativity infectious? I hope not, for God's sake.

  5. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Another Anti-Semite from Hitler’s Germany

  6. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Another Anti-Semite from England, which has been conquered by Muslim Islamic Jihad

  7. Yehuda Cohen says:

    From one who thinks that Torah can be equaled to other books of insanity which you call holy, there is no debate.

  8. FanOf Tzvi says:

    How can Tzvi's article of truth from the Holy Land bring out such idiocy from two garbage cans, England and Germany, of the world?

  9. Rachel Tate says:

    @Charlotte Barber…yes Judaism is a religion but, it is also a people, it is in the dna, jews were given the land and have every right, ordained by Our Blessed Creator to take it back. We (Jews) were driven out and spread to other countries because of war and because others try to wipe us out. Hashem will never let this happen for he had chosen us (Jews) to make the world good and to make peace and live by the commandments. As for the occupation, that is the so called "Palestinians" choice because they refuse to live in peace with Israel and Jews.

  10. Charlotte Barber says:

    Rachel it was not the Palestinians choice to be driven from their homes by gun point.

  11. Rachel Tate says:

    Charlotte, no point in arguing with people that are clueless…have a blessed day!

  12. Liad Bar-el says:

    Moshe Rabeinu faced even greater anti-Israeli comments during his time; so, take courage Tzvi. Your pointed news of truth hit a nerve of falsehood. There is no such thing as occupation and this is not only according to the Torah but according to international law. Arabs were not driven from their homes by Israel but rather were forced to leave by their own Arab leaders in hopes of destroying Israel which never happened. As it was in days of Moses, those who support Israel are welcome to stay but those who want Israel destroyed should leave. Sounds fair to me for any people of any country. Keep up the good work, Tzvi.

  13. Pat McCrann says:

    You did not readthe comment correctly. They were not driven out by Israel but by the Arabs. They were told to leave while the Arabs massacred the Jews and they were told they would then be able to return. They chose to leave, believing the Jews, their neighbours, would be wiped out. They choose now to elect terrorist leaders who still stand on a platform of wiping out the Jews. You lack intellectual clarity and honesty. Put it right, for your own sake if nothing else.

  14. Pat McCrann says:

    I presume you mean the lies and insanity of the Arab 'Palestinians'?

  15. Pat McCrann says:

    Christianity and Islam both claim to follow on from the Torah. In other words both testify to its divinity although both then claim to be able to abrogate it, both place another book in front of it, both claim their prophet was the greatest and final prophet, both have persecuted and murdered countless millions of Jews and will do so again if they can. However the Torah also teaches that G-d will curse those who curse Israel, Jerusalem will be a stumbling block to all who try to destroy her and G-d will protectIsrael and destroy her enemies. You're on the losing side girlie.

  16. Bet Tefillah says:

    : Tzvi makes a good point… We as the now older generation of Jews and the younger generations that are right behind us MUST teach that the purpose of our existence is the service of G-d and that G-d Himself commanded us to live in Israel. He is also correct that the diaspora is not supposed to last forever. The prophets tell us that we will see the exiles return before our own eyes. This is what is happening right now. As to American Jewry, we have become so Americanized that we sometimes forget to put the emPHasis on the correct SYllabLE. We need to change our focus from what can we do today for our communities in America to how can we move these communities to Israel. Israel is the land that G-d Swore to our forefathers It is the place where the Beis HaMikdash will once again be. It is the place where mitzvot of G-d have meaning and the only way to fulfill our obligation to G-d is through the performance of His commandments, many many many of which CANNOT be fulfilled anywhere else on earth. Therefore it is our duty and the holiest of mitzvot to teach our young and convince our elderly that Israel is the one and only true home of the Jewish people and we must make it a priority to get ourselves there. That will mean the end of the diaspora and we will have stopped wondering. May it come speedily along with the rebuilding of the Temple on the Mount of Olives. Amen

  17. Jeff Gunn says:

    tzvi – I'm screamig at you to not fall of that cliff called idolatry – really now… reincarnation? please show me where in the torah this is taught…. resurrection yes…. reincarnation…. no….

  18. Liad Bar-el says:

    Generally speaking, a person enjoys the benefits of keeping the commandments only when he himself keeps them; however, if a person causes others to do good deeds, he has even a greater benefit: G-d will not let him commit a sin for which he will be punished. (Menorath HaMaor 5:1; Sh’nei Luchoth HaB’rith, page 238, quoting Mordechai) The reason for this is since he caused others to do good deeds, G-d does not want that they should go to the Garden of Eden and he should go to gehenom. He therefore has this advantage. (Zohar, Korach, Page 178).

    Tzvi’s books and blogs are chocked full of Torah commandments and one who studies them will know the commandments that G-d gave us and if he is honest with himself, he will be careful to keep them. Therefore, Tzvi’s published works have in them an element of bringing the many to do good. And if others spread his published works, JPress – A7 – others including you who are reading this blog at this time, all will get people to learn the commandments, do them, avoid sin and all will be worthy of the advantage already mentioned of not coming to do sin. Thus, Tzvi and his readers will be blessed both by G-d and man. All will be worthy of the blessing, “Those who bring the many to good will shine like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). Additionally, Me’Am Lo’Ez states vol 15 page xliv: “Every person who brings the many to righteousness will shine like the stars in the next world.”.

  19. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Reincarnation is one of the main principles of Judaism and if I, Tzvi, or someone else were to give you a reference, you more than likely would give it up. It is evident that you do not know nor do you have those references otherwise you would know what reincarnation is; therefore, I would advise you to contact a Rabbi who could show you the references and explain to you what reincarnation means in Judaism. You’d be farther ahead and will also understand that reincarnation has nothing to do with idolatry as you mean it to be in your post but rather it could mean that one might be reincarnated because of idolatry so as to repent and overcome it. Good luck in your pursuits.

  20. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Good one Pat. I appreciate your posts here very much. Thanks.

  21. Jeff Gunn says:

    yehuda cohen – by saying "Reincarnation is one of the main principles of Judaism." you are a teacher of lies that lead to false beliefs. there is no truth in your reply. it is kaballahistic gobbledegook you are speaking of – not the tanakh or torah.

  22. Budha have a grave.Our G`d have`nt a grave.So its a men made religion!

  23. Liad Bar-el says:

    Jeff, you really should go to atheistic non Jewish forums instead of denigrating the Judaism levels here of which the most learned and holy Rabbis have and still practice (i.e. Kabbalah). The Torah gives the ideas of reincarnation in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 which is too long to post here and in Job 33:29 “Behold, G-d does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.” There are others, I’m sure of which most learned Rabbis could mention but it doesn’t appear that you are here to learn as you are to belittle and in the end be belittled. I can assure it will not be from me.

  24. Pat McCrann says:

    A blessed day? Unfortunately not. Genesis 12:3 'I will bless those who bless you (Israel) and curse those who curse you'.

  25. Pat McCrann says:

    The 'occupation' of Israel by the Jews is affirmed in law. If the Arabs had a claim to it they would have made that claim in a court of law. Most of the Arab countries were given their land along with the British and French Mandates in the Middle East. I don't suppose you have a problem with that? The 'Palestinians' were given Jordan, even though it was meant to be Israeli land. Think for yourself instead of listening, unthinkingly, to your communist teachers and regurgitating their lies and hatred for a great and decent people..

  26. Rachel Tate says:

    I was trying to be nice in a sarcastic way…LOL!

  27. Pat McCrann says:

    You should be on telly. That's very very funny.

  28. jeffgunn says:

    hi yehuda. are you implying that reincarnation is included in the principles of faith or is the information you are referring to simply an extra biblical interpretation of simple torah passages? in job from what i understand and by removing the proof texting you have done and reading more of the passage is what one might call “enlightenment” during one’s lifetime – come out of the darkness (pit) and see the light of torah and aquire your true soul – god will give you a few chances at that. it speaks of while you live, not reincarnation. the deut passage appears to be literal about continuing one’s name or lineage. ps@liad – i’m jewish – i am not an atheist.

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Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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