web analytics
December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Next Year in Jerusalem — Maybe

Kahane

Rabbi Meir Kahane published this in The Jewish Press 40 years ago. Some things just don’t seem to change:

The synagogue is filled from end to end. Every seat is reserved, every inch of space taken up. The Yom Kippur Neila service is drawing to an end. A day of repentance, prayer and charity fades to a close. A congregation, elevated for a day at least, watches as the Shofar is raised and a long, clear, vibrant blast fills the hall. Five hundred voices cry out spontaneously —

“L’Shanah Ha’Ba’ah b’Yerushalayim!” “Next Year in Jerusalem!”

The crowd files out to begin yet another year of bitter exile amidst television and Miami Beach.

The synagogue is dark and hushed. A few candles flutter in the corners, their flickering flames lighting the pained and saddened faces of the congregation sitting on low benches waiting for the Tisha B’Av services to begin, and the mournful tune of the Eycha — Lamentations — rises softly, punctuated by the sobs of the mourners of Zion. Every mind is shattered as the picture of the beloved homeland, bereft of its children, comes to mind. Every pious Jew sitting in the room sighs and dreams of the day — may it soon come — when God will allow him to, once again, kiss the soil of the homeland — courtesy of a three-week American Jewish Congress guided tour, and then back home again to the painful fleshpots.

A religion which develops a split personality is a religion in danger. A faith whose adherents begin to merely pay lip service to its tenets is in the first stages of atrophy. When individuals create a dichotomy between what they believe and what they practice, it calls for serious re-evaluation.

The dream of settling in Israel is a basic part of the Jewish faith. It is an obligation, but it is more than that; it is a dream. How many seas would the tears of our ancestors have filled as they wept for the privilege of returning to Zion? How piercing would have been the totality of their cries as they prayed to the All Mighty to “speedily bring us from the four corners of the earth and smash the yoke of the nations and bring us upright to our land!”

Who can begin to fully quote the letter of the obligatory law to settle in the Land of Israel, as expounded by our Rabbis, and who can adequately describe the acceptance of the spirit of that obligation by our ancestors, the dreamers of Zion? What would they not have given for the opportunity of returning and walking four cubits on its soil? How they would have flocked to the airports and harbors as the great vision approached fulfillment!

I write this as a traditional, observant Jew. For myself, I have written and spoken and pleaded a thousand times over to all Jews of America to leave and return to Israel — not for religious reasons — but for the elementary need to save their lives. I believe in the marrow of my bones that the days of the Jew in the United States are numbered and that there is coming a storm of physical brutality that portends a holocaust. What 48 prophets could not convince Jews to do, says the Talmud, Haman’s ring accomplished. There is a Haman’s ring in the American Jewish future, and for the sake of our children and grandchildren, the time to evacuate is now. I have said this and will continue to say this to all Jews. But to the observant ones there is another, an added, perhaps, an even more important reason.

Every traditional Jew must take a long and deep look at himself. He must ask difficult and painful questions. How is it possible to honestly pray three times a day to the All Mighty to restore us to Zion when that restoration is ours at the cost of a few hundred dollars, courtesy of El Al? What rationalizations can we invent to answer those who question our lamentations for Zion when the Jewish Agency is prepared to grant long-term loans for housing and transportation for those who wish to settle in Israel? What can hide our shame as we fervently proclaim, “Next Year in the Land of Israel,” when next year has already come, when the gates of the Holy Land stand open, when the obligation to return can and demands to be fulfilled?

All this has nothing to do with the particular religious Jew’s attitude toward the government or State of Israel. We speak here not of political Zionism, but of the original and permanent obligation to go up and settle the Holy Land — an obligation that is clear and binding upon all — from the Mizrachi through the Agudat Israel to Amram Blau and the Neturei Karta.

What kind of Jews are we who profess a Judaism that builds up a dream in ritual and prayer — until it is at the very center of our aspirations — and then make a mockery of it in practice? Those who are able to return and do not must cease to weep salted tears and put an end to insincere lamentations. Let us rather admit that we have eaten too long at the fleshpots of galut — exile — and that the bribery of the good life has compromised and blinded us. When a famous Rosh Yeshiva chided Ben-Gurion on the secularism of Israel, the then-Prime Minister cunningly replied: “Let the American religious Jews come here and put me out of office.”

He could well afford to be clever, for he knew that most would not come. The Catskills have overshadowed the hills of Jerusalem, and the Rockaways conquered the Jordan and the Mediterranean. Electric appliances have replaced the flame of sacrifice and the television set the Book of Lamentations. In a sense, it is symbolic of a general loss of ability to sacrifice on the part of the American Jew — and the religious one is little different. It is a sad and dangerous thing.

From the religious point of view, there is a double tragedy here. What power lies in the hands of a dynamic religious immigration! What a noble impression and Kiddush Hashem — Sanctification of the Name — it would create in the young Israeli mind if religious Jews showed the courage of their convictions! What a Jewish state could be shaped out of a state of Jews!

Certainly it is difficult; to be sure there would have to be sacrifices in the economic standard of one’s life. Yes, there is a language barrier, and no doubt employment would be a problem for a time, and life would not be quite as materially sweet as back home with the good life and the American Nazi Party. But since when has a religious Jew assumed that life was made to be sweet and that the All Mighty placed him here so as to be comfortable? Is the excuse of economic difficulty enough to justify, in the religious Jew’s mind, the rationale given him by the non-observant for violating even the rabbinical laws of Sabbath? Is the Jew who tells us that economic need makes it imperative that his store remain open on the Sabbath, since that is by far his busiest day, given dispensation? Do we calmly accept the decision of people not to send their children to yeshivot because of the economic difficulty involved, or do we call upon them to make that sacrifice that is needed for the great commandment of Torah study?

Yet, here, on a question that every authority in the past has conceded is a religious obligation, we find the religious Jew ready to join behind the Hadassahs, the ZOAs and the B’nai B’riths in their shabby attempts to transform the galut — the exile — of America into such tortured sophistry as “chutz l’aretz” (outside the land). The very one who girds his loins for battle against all who seek to lighten some other halachic burden now suddenly descends into the intricacies of pilpul to explain that in reality Maimonides believes that the settlement of the land is only a rabbinical injunction (thus “merely” putting it on the same level as eating chicken with milk or doing business on the Sabbath); that one is free of the obligation if there is danger; that there are economic difficulties; ad infinitum.

No argument will blot out the shame of our craven surrender to materialism. The words we mouth in our daily prayers, the slogans we shout at the conclusion of Yom Kippur and at our  Passover Seder all become empty and meaningless words when we have no intention of following them. It is up to the yeshivot to teach and to emphasize the religious obligation of a Jew to live in the Land of Israel. It is up to the traditional congregation to take steps to implement it. Mitzvat Yishuv Eretz Yisroel (the commandment to settle the Land of Israel) becomes more than merely another of the laws. It becomes a mirror reflecting our weaknesses and hypocrisies. Next Tisha B’Av it would do well for us to weep — not for the land, but for ourselves.

December 24, 1971

Republished in the 7 volume set “Beyond Words”, available at Amazon Books.

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


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

8 Responses to “Next Year in Jerusalem — Maybe”

  1. Rc Fowler says:

    I wish there were a clear majority of Jews both political and non political–who believed as Rabbi Kahane did–Israel would be so much better off!

  2. Tzvi Fishman says:

    I'd seriously like to hear how The Jewish Press's regular readers answer the arguments of Rabbi Kahane in this essay. If you don't agree – why? And if you do agree – why don't you come live in Israel?

  3. Larry Snider says:

    Rabbi Kahane was right in calling on the Jewish heart and the Jewish soul to return. While some readers may believe that he was right in his beliefs via the Arabs the State of Israel banned Kach and the United States classified JDL as a terrorist organzation because we are all children of G-d.

  4. I believe Rabbi Meir Kahane, that it will become difficult for the Jewish people but also for the christians in America.

  5. yuz got that write brothur.

  6. Rc Fowler says:

    This is true–and it has already begun–even more so with the Obama cabal!

  7. Lara Denver says:

    Great article, thanks, and I agree up to a point. In your writing it seems like you are inviting all the religious Jews and traditional Jews. Are they the only people you welcome? How about Jews who are not as religious as you? Also, I know that I would love to come to Israel, and I have many reasons, as opposed to excuses, that I cannot. I wonder do you participate in helping people make Aliyah, or do you just want to make others feel guilty or bad? When we can, I agree we should come!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
Current Top Story
False Alarm 2
Rocket Fire Returns to Southern Israel – Again!
Latest Blogs Stories
Alan Gross (L)

Did Cuba apologize for their spies the way Israel apologized for Pollard?

Torah scroll. (illustrative only)

Nothing binds Jews together more than Torah observance; Or so one would think.

tinsel-314750_1280

Sukkah tinsel decorations enjoy a robust market but are invariably manufactured for “another”holiday

PM Benjamin Netanyahu with Yishai and Tamar Fogel, survivors of an Arab terror attack which killed their parents and 3 siblings.

A number of Israeli papers regurgitated a biased AP article on settlement growth, but they should have read it more carefully before hitting publish.

Many of the battles of the Maccabees were right here in the Shiloh area.

Both Labor and Likud are expected to get more seats in the upcoming elections.

Get a straight answer from Edward de Bono to the question: What is lateral thinking?

Jewish communities worldwide commemorate Yehudit during Chanukah by eating dairy foods in her honor

Israel’s problem isn’t Indyk, Obama, UN, NGOs or even the media; Our problem is much closer to home.

None of the attacks on Jewish & property should come as a surprise in light of the Temple Mount.

No surprise! Israel is now being blamed for Ziad Abu Ein’s death.

How does the new U.S. tax amnesty affect American citizens living in Israel and abroad?

The party chiefs are acting drunk and childish – making stupid mistakes and inadvertently showing their true selves – just like on Purim.

A day dedicated to Torah&tradition; a day of great joy and of great sadness- a brit and a burial.

Who was this Minister of Rage, Ziad abu Ein, and what did he do to qualify for his position as a senior minister in the PA?

JoeSettler explains the electoral mess we’re in, and a possible solution for fixing it.

More Articles from Tzvi Fishman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/next-year-in-jerusalem-maybe/2012/07/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: