My wife and I were in Tel Aviv this week to accompany her mother to the very modern and professional Ramat Aviv Medical Center for a treatment her mom needed. Thank God, everything is OK with the biopsy they took. Afterwards, we strolled around the city a little to enjoy the change of atmosphere.
What’s amazing about Tel Aviv is that everyone speaks Hebrew! At first glance, it doesn’t seem like the most religious place in the country, but everyone there, no matter how weird or secular he looks, speaks the Holy Tongue. Even a drunk who approached us for a handout spoke to us in Hebrew! The only people we met there who didn’t speak Hebrew was a busload of kids on some study program from America.
“Who do you think is closer to God?” I asked my wife. “These Jewish kids from America who don’t know Hebrew, or anything about Judaism, or the Jews in Tel Aviv who know Hebrew and not very much more about Judaism?”
“I’m not privileged to know God’s rating system,” she answered wryly. “It seems to me that God loves everyone equally.”
My wife is a very nice person. I’m very lucky to have married her.
Tel Aviv is filled with beautiful boutiques, sidewalk cafes, theaters, and art galleries. Its architecture along the seaside is very modern artsy and creative. It has a bohemian, Paris-like feeling about it. My wife noted that the women were very fashionably dressed, though modesty wasn’t one of their strong points. I kept my glance down at my shoes, so I can’t confirm her report. I know there are many devout Diasporians who are always screaming “Gevalt! The immodesty in Israel is terrible! Gevalt! There are so many heretics there! Gevalt! Tel Aviv is worse than Las Vegas!”
There is an interesting Midrash in “Yalkut Shimoney, Eichah” that describes God’s great anguish that His children are in exile, dwelling amongst the gentiles. “Gevalt!” G-d moans. “If only My children were with Me in Eretz Yisrael, even if they contaminate My Land with their sins.”
Our Sages tell us that God cries out at midnight with pain over His sadness that His children are in foreign lands. “Woe to the father that has exiled his children!” He roars. In contrast, God is happy when His children are in Israel. Look what He has done in returning us to our borders! The city of Tel Aviv began as a sand dune. Today, a few short decades later, it is a booming modern metropolis, spreading for miles and miles in every direction. God has done all this! Only a blind person can’t see it.
I know there are people who aren’t happy with this state of affairs. They don’t agree with the way God is bringing about the Redemption. If they were God, they would do things differently. For one thing, they would limit the Redemption to religious Jews only. But, like my wife said, God loves all Jews, the religious and the not yet religious. So in His great love and wisdom, He decided to give the secular Zionists the great mitzvah of resettling and rebuilding the Land of Israel after an exile of nearly two thousand years, a mitzvah that is equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah!
God loves Tel Aviv too! Look how He has built it up out of the sand dunes to being such a thriving dynamic city! Some “Ultra Religious” Jews maintain it’s the work of the Satan. What ignorance! The Gemara teaches that everything is from God, even the path of a leaf as it falls from a tree. When you stick your hand in your pocket to pull out a dime, and a nickel comes out instead, that’s from G-d too. So something as enormous as the city of Tel Aviv, and the rebuilding of Israel into a world superpower, isn’t from God?
For me, strolling around Tel Aviv and seeing how the words of our Prophets have come to pass in our generation, is as much of a spiritual experience as spending a day in the holy city of Tzfat. I can’t wait to go back to Tel Aviv for another uplifting visit!Tzvi Fishman
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. His recent movie "Stories of Rebbe Nachman" will be available soon as a DVD.The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.
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