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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Why Help Build America When We Can Help Build the Land of the Jews?


Rebuilding Jerusalem – what more could capture their hearts?

Rebuilding Jerusalem – what more could capture their hearts?

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In his current article in The Jewish Press, “A New Song,” Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt advocates finding “a new rallying call, a new idea with which to inspire the troops and turn values into action.”

“Each generation speaks its own language and needs its own message,” he writes.

So far, so good. However, I would like to offer a different rallying call than the one he ultimately chooses.

“Hewed by Hashem into the core of our soul is the need to effect change in the world we inhabit,” he continues.

This too is very true. In my opinion, however, the question is, where should we, in this generation, focus our efforts? In strengthening Jewish life among the gentiles in a foreign land – as he proposes – or in striving to build a Torah society in the Land of Israel, as advocated by the Torah and the Prophets of Israel? What is the message that we should teach our children? That their future is in America, being productive American Jews, or in Eretz Yisrael being productive Jews in the Holy Land?

Rabbi Rosenblatt wrestles with this question in the course of his thought-provoking article, writing, “I feel a primal need for perspective, to understand who I am, who we are, and where our community is headed.”

In my mind, the meaning of “our community” should not only be America’s Orthodox/Haredi community, but the community of all of American Jewry, for, as our Sages teach, every Jew is responsible for his fellow. It is no secret that American Jewry is being decimated by assimilation. The longer the Jewish community remains in America the more the assimilation will grow. So I ask – what’s the point in working to strengthen something that is destined to dwindle out and end? The exile is a curse which is not supposed to continue forever. Now that Hashem, in His great kindness, has re-opened the gates to the Land of Israel and has given us our own Jewish State, isn’t it time to come home? True, for adults who are already established in their ways, moving to a new country is a difficult challenge, but our children have the wherewithal to fulfill the great mitzvah of living in the Land of Israel, a mitzvah which our Sages teach is equal in weight to all the commandments of the Torah (Sifre, Reah 80).

Encouraging Jewish youth to be accountants, or businessmen, or scientists in America, is well and good, but it can’t be compared with playing a part in the Redemption of Israel and becoming of a building of the Jewish Nation in Eretz Yisrael. In my humble opinion, this is the new call we need to rally and inspire our troops!

Yes, in recent generations, the Orthodox Jews of America have done wonders in guarding and strengthening the observance of Torah. As Rabbi Rosenblatt notes, his parents’ generation built Flatbush, and his generation built Lakewood. Certainly, these are praiseworthy achievements. But that was before the establishment of the State of Israel and shortly after its birth, when we didn’t have a choice. But in the face of the subsequent modernization and miraculous development of Medinat Yisrael, instead of adding on to Flatbush and Lakewood, or sending out battalions of Haredi “laypeople” to win a spot in the American marketplace, as the author of the article advices, why not put our efforts into re-locating these holy and talented young people to Eretz Yisrael?

This is especially true when the author writes: “As a result of our weak secular education and greater insularity, our generation is struggling to make ends meet. Parnassah options are often limited. If not employed in klei kodesh, most of us work for or start small businesses, frequently competing with each other to service the needs of our community. We are often recipients of governmental aid, a possibility our parents’ generation wouldn’t have considered.”

Rabbi Rosenblatt writes a great deal about Kiddush Hashem, but being dependent on handouts from the gentiles is the very opposite. In fact, as the Prophet Ezekiel teaches, the presence of Jews in the Diaspora is one big problematic disgrace:

“And when they came to the nations into which they came, they profaned My Holy Name, in that men said of them: These are the people of the Lord, and they are gone out of His land” (Ezekiel, 36:20).

This prophecy informs us that the unnatural situation of Jews living outside the Land of Israel is a desecration of God. Why? Because in the eyes of the gentiles, our presence in the Diaspora proclaims that God lacks the power to keep us in His Land. That was back then in Ezekiel’s days. Now, in our time, when God has returned the Land of Israel to the Jews, the situation is even worse, for it seems, in the eyes of the gentiles, that in clinging to our Diaspora communities, we prefer foreign lands to His.

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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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72 Responses to “Why Help Build America When We Can Help Build the Land of the Jews?”

  1. Stephen Langel says:

    As a reform Jew and the husband of a Rabbi, I have zero interest in the traditional Orthodox or their view of the world or of other Jews.

  2. @stephen…interesting, because the really enlightened care about you, on the other hand. We are coming upon Shavuot–a time when ALL of Israel was at Sinai-k'ish echad b'lev echad–whatever the labels were. May it be so once again..

  3. נופיה שם טוב says:

    like the evil son at seder

  4. Gavriel Saks says:

    I live in Israel, and I find this article very problematic. America was a safe haven for Jews in their time of need, and over time gave Jews the opportunity to flourish and to assume leadership positions. America also stood by Israel most of the time, more so than any other country, in its times of need. Now, America is facing a time of need. The smart and morally developed jews in america should feel an indebtedness to their country, and should do all they can, which could be a lot, to help america renew and reinvigorate itself. Hakaras hatov is part of the essence of judaism. Articles like this give jews a bad name, making them look a little bit like the selfish parasites that anti-semites say they are. Those that desire to go to Israel should indeed do so, if that is there calling. But staying and helping america is alsol a holy duty and should not be discouraged.

  5. Gavriel Saks says:

    I live in Israel, and I find this article very problematic. America was a safe haven for Jews in their time of need, and over time gave Jews the opportunity to flourish and to assume leadership positions. America also stood by Israel most of the time, more so than any other country, in its times of need. Now, America is facing a time of need. The smart and morally developed Jews in America should feel an indebtedness to their country, and should do all they can, which could be a lot, to help America renew and reinvigorate itself. Hakaras hatov is part of the essence of Judaism. Articles like this give Jews a bad name, making them look a little bit like the selfish parasites that anti-semites say they are. Those that desire to go to Israel should indeed do so, if that is their calling. But staying and helping America is also a holy duty and should not be discouraged.

  6. Stephen Langel says:

    Whatever. I happen to like a Judaism that is tolerant of others, including women and gays. But, hey, that's just me.

  7. Stephen Langel says:

    For instance, women deserve full access to the Wailing Wall without being assaulted or harassed. Do you agree?

  8. Stephen Langel says:

    I care about you too. I also care about women's rights and the rights of gays and lesbians and the rights of all those who are Jewish, beyond just the most traditional Orthodox. I care about them too.

  9. נופיה שם טוב says:

    Stephen Langel The Kotel is not the wailing wall. that is what the antisemitic goyim called it and the reason we cried was THEM. I used to be Reform.

    There are so many problems in Israel. Women have equal access to the Kotel. Anat Hoffman's Women of the Wall group is an atrcocity. Gay people in Israel have too many rights in my opinion, but they certainly aren't being murdered like in Syria, Iran and Iraq. How you even dare compare Israel to those countries is beyond me and shows your own self-hating self.

    At the end of his life, David Forman z"l separated himself from other Reform Jews because he saw they hated their fellow Jews for hate's sake. He himself said "ANY JEW WHO CARES ABOUT A JEWISH FUTURE WILL COME LIVE IN ISRAEL, REFORM, CONSERVATIVE, ORTHODOX OR POLKA DOT"

  10. Liad Bar-el says:

    I also live in Israel and I find this article right to the point and very truthful for it is based on the Torah. Historically speaking, America has never ever been a safe haven for Jews in their time of need. Study some history and find out the truth. State Department officials blocked the immigration of Jews into the United States during WWII. The visa policy of the United States was designed to trap Jews in Europe, where Hitler would find them. The USA erected a 'paper wall,' a bureaucratic maze that prevented all but a few Jewish refugees from entering the country. It was not until 1944, that a small band of Treasury Department employees forced the government to respond. And of course we all know that the allies refused to sabotage the Final Solution by military means thus giving the German trains to run on time, and deliver their human cargo to the camps without interruptions. America never really fully stood by Israel. The US government gave lukewarm support to the creation of the State of Israel. But then it reversed itself and implemented policies designed to destroy Israel and has been supporting Israel’s enemies ever since then. There was a recent JPost article to this effect. Thanks to the USA, we in Israel now have the enemy right in our belly and the USA wants us to give our heart to the enemy also. Israel has always helped America with their intelligence, technology, and in many other fields. This time of America’s need as you put it comes from a Muslim leader who supports the Muslim Brotherhood who wants to destroy Israel. And you say that we (Israel) should support them? The Jewish attributes of gratitude and appreciation (Hakaras hatov) certainly has its place and it should be placed next to the attribute of truth. Torah is truth and this article is based on Torah (truth); so, it really gives Jews a good name not a bad one. Truth makes us strong yet compassionate as we can testify in the actions of the IDF during battle. When you stated: “staying and helping America is also a holy duty and should not be discouraged” is in the same context of what the spies said to the Israelites to not go to Israel. It’s our Holy Duty to help a country that wants to build itself up on the Torah principles for all people or is it our Holy Duty to support a country that wants to destroy us? Supporting Gaza is not enough for you? May the day come soon that we will live in peace, truth and love of each other as a family of One.

  11. נופיה שם טוב says:

    Stephen Langel Here's something Anat should care about if she really cares about women: http://chabad4israel.org/facts/westbankrape.shtml

  12. Stephen Langel says:

    Self hating? You obviously know nothing about me, nothing at all. God bless Anat Hoffman. God bless all of his creations, gay, straight or whatever else. I am not self-hating, but you, you have a lot of hate within you, that's plain to see. Zei Gezunt.

  13. Stephen Langel says:

    Wait, aren't we also, according to the Holy Books, isn't there supposed to be no Jewish nation of Israel until the Messiah comes? So, do you still support Israel? I do, but I guess I don't believe in God the way you'd like. But I don't really care.

  14. Stephen Langel says:

    I love my fellow Jews. You, however, seem to hate Jews who don't see things your way, as well as anyone else who's different from you. I am sad for you. God bless you though.

  15. Stephen Langel says:

    One other thing, if you align yourself with the religious right wing in America, be warned, they believe that Jews must be converted to Christianity in order for the Messiah to come. So, if that's who you support, remember their ultimate goal is conversion.

  16. נופיה שם טוב says:

    Liad Bar-el Agreed. America voted for him, let them suffer the consequences. It's not our responsibility to save them when they did it to themselves.

  17. נופיה שם טוב says:

    Stephen Langel Judaism is NOT tolerant. It says in the Torah DONT BE GAY

  18. Stephen Langel says:

    I see a greater, more loving Judiasm than you do obviously. And since when has America needed Israel to save her as opposed to the other way around? Ridiculous. I'm done with you. Zei gezunt.

  19. Stephen Langel so you assume that i as an observant jew do not care as well? very big brush you paint with, sir. i would rephrase it more honestly " i also care about women's righs and the rights of gays,etc…..everyone except (not beyond) the most traditional orthodox" You said as much in your first statement. It is sad that so often those who stand pointing that broad brush at all Orthodox or all those they are angry with, for whatever reason, often are doing the very same thing they are accusing others of….my suggestion…look within.

  20. נופיה שם טוב please check again what the Torah says before quoting it. It does not say don't be gay. Hashem created gay people and Hashem created people with differences and handicaps and disabilities. The Torah says that a man may not lie with a man as with a woman and that it's an abomination. In other words, although you may be gay, you are being asked not to act on your impulses, as you are not allowed to act on other impulses that you may have that the Torah forbids. This is most definitely not a fine line.

  21. Stephen Langel says:

    Sherri Ashman I am at peace with who I am. I am sorry to paint you with a broad brush, but you must admit the more traditional the Orthodox, the less tolerant they are of "the other."

  22. Brian Segal says:

    The picture of that abomination on OUR Temple Mount offends me. We have enough Jewish symbols, pick one!

  23. נופיה שם טוב says:

    Stephen Langel um, actually, liberals have proven themselves quite intolerant as well

  24. נופיה שם טוב says:

    Judaism is a diaspora religion. It says in the Torah don't be gay, if you believe in Judaism you supposedly believe in the Torah. If not,, then it's not Judaism.

  25. Stephen Langel says:

    Sure they have. Keep telling yourself that. Rights for the oppressed, the "other" the stranger. Yup, must be intolerant. Feh.

  26. נופיה שם טוב says:

    Stephen Langel It says no where in the Torah that there's no living in Israel. That's a bunch of extremist crap. funny how you embrace anti zionists and claim to be Jewish but support ethics completely abhorrent to Hashem. reform is not Jewsh

  27. Stephen Langel An apt quote,not, my own, goes…We don't see things as they are, We see things as WE are.You've already stated publicly that you care nothing of your more traditional brothers and sisters. I would again ask you to look within and see all the intolerane that you are displaying in fact.

  28. Gavriel Saks says:

    Liad Bar-el "Study some history and find out the truth?" There wasn't one fact that you cited that I wasn't aware of. It's a matter of what you focus on. You focus only on the negative, the lack of favors done by america for israel, times when they could have done more. You miss all of the other side of the coin, the flocking of a large precentage of Europe's Jews to America's open doors in early 1900's etc., the diplomatic and military protection that america has given Israel and so much more. You should study history, open your mind and free yourself from black and white, all-or-nothing "thinking." You also did not read my comment carefully, rather, you used it as a springboard to go on what can only be called a rant. For example, you say: "And you say that we (Israel) should support them?" –Actually, if you spent an adequate amount of time reading and processing my comment, you would've noticed that i never stated that israel should do anything at all for America. (Though they should at least refrain from twistedly blaming their ally for all of their problems…) What I said was that American Jews (yes American) whose families built their fortunes by taking over most of the lucrative industries in America, whose government has protected their religious rights like very few in history have done for Jews, whose Kollelim/Avreichim have lived off their government for decades etc. etc. have no right to suddenly decide that America is "used up" and now we owe nothing to this great country. What is truly disturbing is how many Jews, probably in America, liked your comment. I do agree, however, with the last sentence of your comment.

  29. נופיה שם טוב says:

    Sherri Ashman you're right, it says don't BEHAVE gay. that it is an abomination. everyone has the right to be gay, but that doesn't mean they deserve a wedding party.

  30. נופיה שם טוב says:

    Gavriel Saks Pollard

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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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