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July 6, 2015 / 19 Tammuz, 5775
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God is the Biggest Zionist of Them All


Zionism

My friends, if you want proof that Eretz Yisrael is the place where the commandments are meant to be performed, just take a look at the holiday of Shavuot.

The holiday of Shavuot has only two Torah commandments, both of which can only be performed in Eretz Yisrael. One is the bringing of the first fruits, “HaBikorim,” as is written: “And you shall take from the first of every fruit of the ground, which you shall bring from your Land”(Devarim, 26:2). Only fruits from the Land Of Israel (your Land), from the seven species indigenous to the Land of Israel, may be brought to Jerusalem on the Festival.

The second mitzvah is the bringing of the two loaves of bread to the Temple, marking permission to use the new crop of grain for sacrificial purposes, as it says: “From your dwellings, you shall bring two loaves of bread for heaving” (Vayikra, 23:17), which can only come from Eretz Yisrael, and not from other lands “(Mishna, Kelim, 1:6).

You can try bringing fruit or bread from Brooklyn, but it won’t be accepted. Not even fruit from Monsey, NY.

While Shavuot in the Diaspora is characterized by the emphasis on Torah study, in Israel, in addition to the intensive all-night Torah study which takes place all over the country, and the glorious mass prayer at the Kotel, the days leading to the holiday are marked by songs of Eretz Yisrael on the radio, agricultural exhibitions in schools, and parades celebrating the new harvest and the fruits of Eretz Yisrael, in the joyous spirit of the pageant-like bringing of the first fruits to Jerusalem in days of yore.

Thus, the Festival of Shavuot is intrinsically bound with the praising Hashem for the agricultural bounty of Eretz Yisrael. This praise and sense of gratitude is highlighted in the speech that every Jew must make to the Kohen when he brings his first fruits to the Temple:

“I profess this day to the Lord thy God that I am come to the country that the L-rd swore to our fathers to give us… and He brought us to this place and gave us this Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey” (Devarim, 26:1-15).

Additionally, the bringing of the Omer, upon which the Counting of the Omer is based between Pesach and Shavuot, can only be brought from Eretz Yisrael, as the Torah commands: “When you come to the Land… and reap its harvest, then you shall bring an omer of your first harvest to the Kohen” (Vayikra, 23:10), meaning only “its harvest” from the Land of Israel. In fact, the Mishna teaches that: “Any mitzvah involving land applies only in Eretz Yisrael” (Kiddushin, 1:9).

The centrality of Eretz Yisrael to Jewish life can also be seen in other aspects of the Shavuot holiday. For instance, in Megillat Ruth, when Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, and two sons, Machlon and Kilyon, abandon the Land of Israel and go to Moav, they are stricken to death in Divine punishment for leaving the Holy Land’s borders.

Also, we honor King David, who was born and died on Shavuot day, by reading from the Book of Psalms. King David was so fervently attached to Eretz Yisrael that he looked upon leaving it as if he were forced to worship idols. When he had to escape to the territory of the Philistines in order to escape Saul, who was pursuing him in murderous wrath, David moaned, “For they have driven me out his day from being joined to the inheritance of the Lord, saying ‘Go serve other gods’” (Shmuel 1:26:19). The Talmud asks, “Did someone really tell David to serve other gods?” In answer, the Talmud states: “Rather, it comes to teach you that anyone who dwells outside the Land of Israel is like someone who worships idols” (Ketubot 110B).

All of this helps us to understand the wondrous happening that occurred in Turkey, 500 years ago, on Shavuot night, in the house of the great Rabbi Yosef Caro, compiler of the Shulchan Aruch. The awe-inspiring incident is recorded in the respected Torah treatise, Shnai Luchot HaBrit, written by the holy Shlah, in Volume 1 on Shavuot. There, one of the Torah scholars who was present, the revered Kabbalist, Rabbi Shlomo Alkebetz, presents a stunning eye-witness account how, during the grandeur of the special night, as a reverent group of Talmidei Chochamin were learning Torah with Rabbi Yosef Caro, also known as the “Beit Yosef,” suddenly the Shechinah began to speak via a Magid through the voice of the holy Rabbi Caro. Filled with Ruach HaKodesh and holy inspiration, the words of the invisible angelic messenger resounded out of Rabbi Caro’s unmoving lips, praising them for their fervent learning, but telling them that if they wanted to continue in probing the deep wisdom of the Torah, and have Ruach HaKodesh remain in their midst, they must immediately make aliyah to the Land of Israel, without worrying about their houses or possessions, but only trusting in Hashem who would surely guard them on the journey and provide for all their needs from the bounty of the good and Holy Land, which “the Lord watches over from the beginning of the year till its end.”

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." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon.

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5 Responses to “God is the Biggest Zionist of Them All”

  1. Liad Bar-el says:

    “G-d has ascended with the blast, HaShem with the sound of the Shofar. Make music for G-d, make music, make music for our King, make music.” (Psalms 47:6,7) Like other mitzvoth performed in Israel, so too blowing the Shofar in Israel. HaShem will ascend on His throng of Mercy when it is sounded and the sounds will truly be music. Otherwise outside of Israel, it is noise. Great blog Tzvi!

  2. sc_85488a530d0ffb25dbbe38cd75f36c2c says:

    Some people maintain that G-d gave the Torah in the wilderness to show that the Torah is meant to be lived everywhere, but the very opposite is the case. G-d gave the Torah in the wilderness precisely to show that He doesn’t want the Jews to be there, because very soon afterwards, He tells them to resume their journey and go to the Holy Land. “For the Torah will go forth from Zion, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem!”

  3. Bet Tefillah says:

    Zionism is not a four letter word! Rather it is a state of mind regarding the reunification of the Jews with the land of our forebears as promised to us by G-d. It really is the ultimate patriotism. When a Jew thinks of Zion and indeed of all of Eretz Israel, he MUST think in terms of home. Our fathers spent 40 years wandering the desert because they rejected the land. DO NOT make the same mistake! Since Israel really is our home, it follows therefore that Zionism IS Patriotism. This weekend is Shavuot. The custom outside of Israel is two days of Shavuot, inside of Israel is one day. The custom of two days (and indeed an extra day added on to every holiday) is to avoid error outside the land of Israel. The Torah only calls for one day, therefore the rest of us are in error! Voluntarily living outside of Israel today is a sin. It amounts to rejecting the land. I am not speaking of the Government of Israel (although we should all support it) just the land itself. I hope to merit to live there myself and with G-d's help (B'li ayen HaRa) I will. G-d bless Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameyach!

  4. Elana Solomonov says:

    Do we need more than this? No. We just need to return to our holly land, and He will perform more miracles for us.

Comments are closed.

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