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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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I’m Not Voting for Obama, that’s for Sure

“How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” King David asks. The answer is that we can’t.
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People can stop reading my blog if they like. They can unfriend me on Facebook, and remove me from their groups, but I will continue to write the truth. Believe me, I don’t write to upset my fellow Jews. I write, bezrat Hashem, to help them to see through the darkness that surrounds us in foreign lands.

Once again, let me try to explain. The plague of darkness in Egypt is described as darkness “mamash,” meaning darkness so thick and tangible that you could literally reach out and physically feel it. Up until the plague, there was darkness in Egypt, the usual darkness of the galut, but the Jews had become so accustomed to it, they didn’t sense it anymore. So Hashem had to turn it into a physical darkness as thick as glue to remind them that they were in an impure place where they didn’t belong.

Why were they blind to the darkness? Because when people grow up in darkness, they don’t experience it as darkness at all. That’s what they’re used to. In fact, to them it seems like light. If you tell them they’re living in the dark, they are liable to get angry. “What do you mean?” they exclaim. “It isn’t dark here at all. You’re crazy. You don’t know what you are talking about. You’re an agitator, that’s all.”

How do I know that the exile is darkness? Because I lived there, and now that I’m in Israel, I can see the enormous difference. And should you ask, “Who is Tzvi Fishman that I should believe what he writes?” The answer is that it isn’t Tzvi Fishman at all.

In this week’s Torah portion, Rashi informs us that only 20% of the Jews left the Diaspora during the Exodus (Shemot, 13:18). 80% of them told Moshe to get lost! That’s right, 80% preferred to stay in America, I mean Egypt, not wanting to give up the delicious Egyptian bagels, the gala Federation dinners, their college studies at Cairo University, and their careers.

Our Sages also teach us about the darkness of chutz l’Aretz (outside of the Land of Israel), as it says in the tractate Sanhedrin, on the verse in the Book of Lamentations, “He has set me down in dark places, like those who are long ago dead” (Eichah, 3:6) – “Rabbi Yirmeya said: ‘This refers to the learning in Babylon,’” which doesn’t have the same illumination as the Torah learning in Eretz Yisrael (Sanhedrin 24A).

Yes, my friends, there can be a Torah learning that is shrouded in darkness. For example, the spies in the wilderness were the leaders of their tribes, the most prominent Torah scholars of the nation, but they didn’t understand that Eretz Yisrael is the foundation upon which the entire Torah and nationhood of Israel stands, as the Gemara teaches: “There is no greater bittul Torah than when the People of Israel are removed from their place” (Chagigah 4B). Like the 80% who wanted to stay in Egypt, and who died in the plague of darkness, these scholars and leaders of the Jewish People wanted to stay in the wilderness and not make aliyah as Hashem had commanded again and again. The Gaon of Vilna teaches that this same myopic understanding of Torah, which denies the centrality of the Land of Israel to the life of the Jewish Nation, is a sin which reappears in every generation, and even Talmidei Chachamin are caught in its darkness (“Kol HaTor,” Ch.5).

In our time, there were three great visionaries who taught us to see the truth of the Torah in the events of our times. Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook; his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook; and Rabbi Meir Kahane, may their memories be for a blessing. Certainly, many other Rabbis shed light on our era, but along the path of my return to Torah and to Eretz Yisrael, these three Torah giants have been shining beacons of wisdom and truth, illuminating the world’s darkness. Each had his own style and individual stamp, with differences of emphasis and approach, but each one taught the Nation to see the Redemption that was taking place in our time, and to recognize the great light of Torah and tshuva contained in the ingathering of the exiles, the abandoning of galut, and the rebuilding of the Nation in Eretz Yisrael. It is a synthesis of their teachings that I am expounding, in my own inadequate way, and it is their genius in Torah, not mine.

Let me try to give you another simple example. Last night, I attended a wedding. There is nothing like a wedding in Israel, where there is concrete meaning to the saying that the holy union of the hatan and kallah (the groom and the bride), and the house they will inhabit, is an additional stone in the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple. When the band plays the verse of the song, “There will yet be heard on the hills of Judea and in the courtyards of Jerusalem, the voice of gladness and the voice of joy, the voice of the hatan and the voice of the kallah,” these words of the Biblical prophecy are coming true in front of your eyes.

And when everyone sings out the Psalm, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, withered be my right hand! May my tongue cleave to my palate, if I ever not think of you, if ever I not set Jerusalem above my chiefest joy!” everyone present in that wedding hall in Israel means it. The words are not some abstract dream, spoken in some faraway land, but a living reality.

My friends, King David didn’t pen these words as just a pretty poem. On the wings of divine inspiration, he is teaching us that our love for Jerusalem is to be the guiding principle of our lives, even greater than the joy of our wedding, more cherished than our spouses, families, our villas, our Audis and Mercedes, more valued than our bank accounts, professions, and university degrees. We are to set Jerusalem above our chiefest joy, to struggle in its behalf, and to dedicate ourselves to its holy rebuilding.

“How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” King David asks.

The answer is that we can’t.

To sing the Lord’s song, you have to sing it in Israel.

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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13 Responses to “I’m Not Voting for Obama, that’s for Sure”

  1. Dynaverse says:

    hi there. I'm sorry, what does this have to do with obama?

  2. The headline seems inappropriate. What you seem to be saying is that the only place you willl vote is in Israel; perhaps, you also want to say that even though you might have retained your U.S. citizenship — have you? and if so, why? — you wuld not vote as an American citizen abroad, something that a significant number of Israeli citizens living in Israel who are also American citizens, and send in absentee ballots to the U.s. elections.

  3. The headline seems inappropriate. What you seem to be saying is that the only place you willl vote is in Israel; perhaps, you also want to say that even though you might have retained your U.S. citizenship — have you? and if so, why? — you would not vote as an American citizen abroad, something that a significant number of Israeli citizens living in Israel who are also American citizens do by sending in absentee ballots to the U.s. elections.

  4. Tzvi Fishman says:

    Photo Caption Quiz.
    Look at the photo above closely and write what Mr. Obama is saying.

  5. Liad Bar-el says:

    IMO, if anyone in Israel who is a leftist or be those of whom support Bibi, who has always followed Obama's direction against Israel, will have also voted for Obama even without having sent in an absentee ballot. Let's carry this relationship one step further. Obama supports the Muslim Brotherhood which wants to destroy Israel. Bibi supports giving the Holy Land of Israel to the Arabs, so does Obama and so does the Muslim Brotherhood. What other proof would you like to have of this relationship, DNA? It has been proven that one can change their DNA through their actions (smoking, exposure to sun, etc). If ones actions can change their DNA, then the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama and Bibi should have also a common DNA relationship.

  6. Bernhard Rosenberg · Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth El.
    where were you when I started Rabbis for Romney? rabbi dr. bernhard rosenberg

  7. Gil Gilman says:

    Oh yes? Meir Kahane who wanted the death penalty for marrying a person of arab descent? You had better get busy if you want to see the party rolling again under a new name.

  8. Mildred Bilt says:

    Once again outrageous heresy is expressed by someone who believes he has usurped Hashem. The Essence of the Almighty is dismissed by arrogant posturing of a self aggrandizing speck of dust parading as the ultimate authority on the will of the Ultimate One. And this in the land of Israel. Again. How many more times will we regain the Land only to lose it because of these reincarnated zealots?

  9. Michael Lucas says:

    Ayatollah Obama Jr, has no love of G-d in his heart, only fear, hate, anger, seething, abominations in his heart. He may very well be Pharaoh's distant descendant, oblivious and unfeeling toward his own nation, when the 10 plagues of Egypt fell, same thing today, as Hashem changes the weather patterns, for forsaking Bereshish 12:3. Genesis 12:3.. "I Will Bless Those Who Bless You, and I WILL Curse those who Curse You!" Often quoted, never understood? :P I pray Texas will wake up to the revelation, and begin to bless Israel. :) Be really sweet to see Jewish kids packing glocks, sig sauer's and various firearms to school, AND Never have a school massacre! Be really sweet, if Rabbi's wore their guns like Matt Dillon and law enforcement, wear a 6 pointed star, know the laws of G-d, and can draw just as fast! :) Like the Old West.. "Sheriff Rabbi Moshe* In Gunpowder! :) The Rabbi who wore a badge, upheld the law and meant business! :D

  10. Liad Bar-el says:

    The picture above reminds me of the time in America when there was a post WWII baby boom in which the country was flooded with babies and America was anxious to make sure that these babies were loyal to the country. In every school, at the beginning of the class, the students were required to stand with their hand over their heart and together out loud say the Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. This was an oath to a flag which really was a form of idol worship. In America, one can see this flag in Orthodox synagogues standing right next to the Orhen Kodesh. Yes, people are bowing down to the American flag; so, you can’t get much more in darkness than that. After the prayer, there is breakfast of bagel, cream cheese and lox with a shot or two of liquor all of which the doctors say are responsible for creating gastro intestinal distress. So, in the American synagogues, one is in a darkness beyond that of the darkness of Egypt. This darkness is one that you can see, touch, taste………… and smell. It’s strong enough to change ones DNA which all the more gives to the world as a witness the great miracle HaShem is doing in this world. HaShem is inspiring one to change from this darkness to go to the light in Israel with money, without money, with belongings, without belongings, with a job, without a job, rich, poor, healthy, sick, old, young, etc to a country which everyone in the world is working against to make it happen. Aliyah is still happening and Israel is still growing and surviving which makes Aliyah one of the greatest miracles ever recorded. Baruch HaShem!

  11. Gil Gilman says:

    In actuality the pledge of allegiance was introduced in 1892, and formally adopted before the U. S. entry into WWII, and has nothing to do with baby-boomers. The idolatry issue is no more or less salient for the U.S. flag than in the Israeli flag. I happen to agree with you about the potential for idolatry in either case, but flags are unnecessary for the root of idolatry which is rampant across the world, including Judaism itself. To merely affirm belief on the One G-d is not enough to avoid idolatry.

  12. Yehuda Cohen says:

    A Muslim president taking the oath of office who is turning the USA into the United States of Arabs by appointing Muslims in key government positions, instituting Sharia Law throughout the country and wants to divide Israel for the Arabs/Muslim Brotherhood as he is doing in the rest of the Middle East. Most of the people in Israel voted for representatives who support Obama. It is stated that the Mosiach will come either if the majority of the people are righteous or if the majority of the people are given over to evil. The election results show that the Mosiach should come because of the latter reason. All I can say is that my conscience is clean with my vote.

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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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