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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776
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Major League Judaism

When it comes to Judaism and true Jewish life, Israel is the big leagues.

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Browsing through a news website, I noticed that the World Series is just two weeks away. I haven’t followed baseball for 30 years, ever since making aliyah. When I lived in America, and thought I was an American, I loved baseball, like everyone else. But baseball doesn’t interest me anymore. I don’t even know what teams are in the running this year. The World Series has absolutely nothing to do with the Redemption of Am Yisrael, so who cares?

But maybe we can borrow a few metaphors from baseball to help America Jews understand that Judaism in the Diaspora is the Little Leagues. Now that we all can come home to Eretz Yisrael, there’s no reason to remain in the exile, getting all excited about foreign gentile pastimes, cheering gentile center fielders and first basemen who date Hollywood floosies, in a world where one out of a thousand players is a Jew. Let’s face it – Medinat Yisrael is the Yankee Stadium of Jewry and  Jewish life in Israel is the Major Leagues.

For example, everyone knows that the real baseball is the Major League baseball in America. In comparison, baseball in Japan is a laugh. No matter how skilled the players may be, Japanese baseball just doesn’t look real. It’s out of place. Baseball doesn’t belong in Tokyo. At best, it is a poor imitation of the real major leagues, with the unmatchable CRACK of a Louisville Slugger bat pummeling a fastball into the bleachers at Yankee Stadium to the unmatchable ROAR of the crowd and the smell of American hot dogs, spilled beer and roasted peanuts.

Just as Japanese baseball league is a poor imitation of Major League baseball, the Judaism of the Diaspora is a poor imitation of the Judaism of Eretz Yisrael.

As we wrote regarding the holiday of Sukkot, you simply can’t compare Jewish life in Israel versus Jewish life in foreign gentile lands. No matter how much private Yiddishkeit there is in Monsey or Boro Park, it’s the minor leagues compared to the NATIONAL Jewish life of the Land of Israel, which has all of the Yiddishkeit of Boro Park in Bnei Brak and Mea Shearim, plus a thousand things more. This is obvious. No one can argue this. The attention of the entire world is focused on Israel. In comparison, who cares what is going on in Monsey or Melbourne? The real Jewish news is happening here in Israel. When it comes to being a Jew, there is nothing like it at all.

In a letter, Rabbi Kook writes:

The source of the moral baseness which continues to darken the world stems from the lack of recognition regarding the value and wisdom of the Land of Israel. Thus the sin of the Spies, who spoke derogatorily about the pleasant Land, remains uncorrected. To rectify this, the Land’s praise, splendor, holiness, and honor must be declared to all the world (Letters, Vol.1, 112-113).

Our Sages have long ago noted the exalted level of Eretz Yisrael in saying, “There is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael” (Bereshit Rabbah,16:7). There is so, not only because over two-thirds of the Mishna deals specifically with Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael, and because of the many mitzvot which can only be performed here – the Torah of the Land of Israel is immeasurably more elevated because the Jewish people possess true NATIONAL vitality only in the Land of Israel.

Outside of the Land, Jews can excel as individuals in all fields of endeavor; including great Torah scholars, but the light of God cannot appear in its intended NATIONAL format. Only in the Land of Israel can the Jews be a KINGDOM of priests and a holy NATION (Shemot, 19:6). The Zohar emphasizes that the Jews can be a NATION only inIsrael, and not outside of it, where we are minorities in other people’s lands. (Zohar, Vayikra, 93B). Prophecies of Redemption all involve the return of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel and the restoration of Jewish sovereignty over the Land. The Jewish people’s unique prophetic talent is dependent on being in the Land of Israel (Kuzari, 1:95; 2:8-24). The Temple can only be rebuilt on the Temple Mount, and the full revelation of God’s Presence is exclusive to Eretz Yisrael, as the prophet teaches, “For Torah will go forth from Zion, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem” (Isaiah, 2:3).

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" The DVD of the movie is available online.

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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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