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October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
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The Biggest and Holiest Adventure in the World


Couch potato

Now that we have reminded readers what everyone already knows – that the Jewish People are to observe the Torah in Israel, and that Eretz Yisrael is where Hashem wants us to be – everyone is faced with a choice: Either people can play a part in the Redemption of Am Yisrael, by taking a role in the rebuilding of the Jewish Nation in its Land, or they can fall by the wayside and become irrelevant to Jewish destiny and the glorious goal of Jewish History.

Yes, aliyah is a difficult challenge. Yes, there are many well-meaning people, lovers of Eretz Yisrael, who would like to live in The Holy Land but simply can’t, for a variety of sincere reasons. There are many others who could come, but simply have not been taught that this great and holy mitzvah should be their number one priority as Jews, to actually set Jerusalem above their highest joy by doing everything they can on its behalf. This is especially true of our young people, who have their whole lives before them, and don’t yet have all of the cumbersome commitments that hold many people back. Certainly every parent, every rabbi, every Jewish organization leader, they should all be teaching these young people that their futures lie in Israel.

Those of you who can come, and there are millions out there, we are waiting to welcome you. And those of you who would like to come, but just can’t seem to put the right pieces together, then you can get involved, in every way that you are able, by encouraging others to come, by coming on frequent visits, by donating money, and by volunteering your time at organizations that have Israel at the top of their programs and agenda. In this way you will have a share in the ingathering of the exiles and in the continued up-building of the Land. If Torah is your thing, then, by all means, set aside a bigger cut of your charity donations and maaser money to supporting Torah institutions in Israel. And start learning the many books that deal with the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael. Of course, all of this isn’t on the same level as aliyah itself, but at least you’ll be “disk-on-keyed” into the world’s greatest “hard drive,” and if you have a yearning to reach the World to Come, in our time of Redemption, this is the path.

Sometimes, beyond all of the known dangers of the Internet, I wish that Facebook and The Jewish Press.com had never been invented. After all, a Jew can sit in his comfortable living room in New York or LA, munching on popcorn and sipping on beer, and see everything that’s going on “b’Aretz” without having to call a taxi and get on a plane. With a click of the finger, he can send pro-Israel links and Youtube clips to all of his friends and have the feeling that he’s really here, making things happen. When I wrote a blog for Arutz 7, I called these people “couch potatoes” and “Monday morning quarterbacks,” and got a lot of readers angry, so I won’t use those terms here, but you know what I mean. It’s a sort of vicarious “virtual aliyah.” But on second thought, it’s better than not being involved at all, and, in fact, it’s a real blessing in that it gives people a way to connect to Eretz Yisrael, and that is certainly one of the greatest blessings of all.

Rabbi Kook has a wonderful observation on the order of the fruits which we eat during our festive Tu B’Shvat meal. Our Sages teach that we are to give preference to the fruits which appear closest to the word “Land” in the verse, “A Land of wheat and barley and grapevines, and fig trees and pomegranates; a Land of olive oil and date honey….” (Devarim, 8:8). Rabbi Kook writes that this also teaches us that the person who is most connected to Eretz Yisrael, and who strives hardest in its settlement and building, he is closest to perfection and Divine favor and blessing.

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