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August 4, 2015 / 19 Av, 5775
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“Why Should I Live in Israel? America Has Everything I Need”


Rav Kook close up

I seem to remember the lyrics of an old Bob Dylan song, “Something is going on Mr. Jones, but you don’t know what it is.” That’s exactly what it’s like for a Jew today if he hasn’t studied the book Orot, by Rabbi Kook. Something is going on with the Jewish People and he doesn’t know what it is. Why? Because for the first time in nearly 2000 years, Jews have risen up with great courage, taken up weapons, and fought for the right to live in our own Jewish Land. There’s another thing equally as startling to many devoutly religious Jews – the fact that the pioneers who risked their lives and largely led the way in rebuilding the Land of our forefathers were often far from Torah observance. Obviously, something very big was taking place. But because they didn’t understand it, or couldn’t accept that God had chosen to bring about the beginnings of Redemption in this seemingly traif manner, many Ultra-Orthodox Jews rejected it. It was Rabbi Kook, with his towering Torah vision, who taught us to recognize that, indeed, the long-awaited Redemption was unfolding before our eyes, even if Hashem decided to bring it about through our secular brothers.

What causes many Jews in the Diaspora, as well as communities of Haredi Jews in Israel, to have a negative to modern Zionism and the Land Israel? Rabbi Kook informs us the reason – it stems from an alienation from the secrets of Torah. Here are excerpts from Chapter Two of the book, Lights on Orot – Eretz Yisrael,   a commentary by Rabbi David Samson and yours truly, on Rabbi’s Kook’s classic work Orot. Take your time reading it. Print it out. Study it thoughtfully on Shavuot night when you have the time. Surely, it will help you to understand what is going on, Mr. Jones. (And for readers, like me, who prefer shorter, more bloggier blogs, we will be getting back to them soon, Bezrat Hashem, after our pre-Shavuot mini course in Orot.)

In the first essay of Orot, we learned that Eretz Yisrael is not a secondary, external acquisition of the Nation, but rather an essential, life-giving foundation of Clal Yisrael. Rabbi Kook emphasized that the future of the Jewish People depends not on strengthening the Diaspora, but rather on strengthening our connection to Eretz Yisrael. In this second essay, Rabbi Kook explains in greater depth how an alienation from the secrets of Torah causes a distortion in our comprehension of Judaism and a crisis in Jewish life. He writes:

“By being alienated from the recognition of the secrets of Torah, the Kedusha (holiness) of Eretz Yisrael is understood in a foggy, unfocused fashion.”

The secrets of Torah which Rabbi Kook refers to are the deep Kabbalistic understandings which chart the inner spiritual blueprint of the Jewish Nation. We are not speaking here about the Tree of Kabbalah which can be found illustrated in popular books on the subject. While this metaphor for the Sefirot, or differing levels of God’s manifestation in the world, is a central understanding of Kabbalah, many other secrets of Torah appear throughout the Aggadah, and the Midrashim of our Sages. Works of wisdom such as the Zohar are the esoteric understandings of these writings. Rabbi Kook’s great genius was in applying this tradition of knowledge toward understanding the development of the Jewish People in our times. His writings illuminate the inner workings of the National Israeli Soul as it awakens to Redemption and physical expression in the rebuilding of the Nation in Eretz Yisrael. The book, Orot, is in effect a deep esoteric study of these themes.

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.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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4 Responses to ““Why Should I Live in Israel? America Has Everything I Need””

  1. Oriana Cottard says:

    Tzvi, I am deeply touched by this so great message. Made me think a lots in deep dimention from safta who survived the Holocaust and the ONE I am and what my heart feels and wants, wich I am the only in my familly. Don't think its so… how can I say? appreciated? why? Of the fear issue-s. So I am the One so proud and inlove of our Eretz who is really from long ago more than readdy and willingto leave everything ( what is everything in my life? I don't know anymore but I am understood with this meaning, I know) To live there my heart and root belong is my maine priority and concern….in despit of what many think…I AM NOT AFRAID AT ALL TO BE IN ERETZ NOR TO LIVE THERE EITHER, BUT THE OPPOSIT IS. I AM AFRAID TO STAY OUT OF IT NO MATTER HOW LONG AND DOn't FEEL GOOD AT ALL WITH IT. EACH TIME I AM COMING BCK FROM ERETZ TO EUROPE, I FEEL MYSELF SO LOST AND TOTALY HEARTBROKEN. IT TAKE ME EACH TIME BETWEEN 3 WEEKS TO A MONTH TO BEING RE-ADAPETED THERE I AM AGAINST MY WILL AND THIS FOR WHAT REASON-S? CLOUM I AM REALIZING TODAY. TO CARE TOO MUCH OF OUR MAKE TOO MANY TIMES THAT THEY STOP TO CARE FOR YOUR OWN NEEEDS….My reasons for it are so many and the choice for my own is so hard when I really and most than everything want to be and live HOME TO ERETZ BUT THAT THE JEWISH AGENCY IN PARIS HAVE STOPED ME FOR A REASON I AM NOT ABLE TO HELP….. Bzrat Hashem Ani rotsa be bait…..BE ERETZ BE YERUSHALAYIM SHELI HEART OF MY HEART.

  2. Tzvi Fishman says:

    Maybe you can bypass the Jewish Agency in Paris and make aliyah the next time you are in Israel.

  3. Oriana Cottard says:

    Tzvi I never have thought about it??? does it work? can you explaine to me on inbox more details please. I am more than readdy for it. Telle more Tzvi. I will do it Bzrat Hashem ken * HATIKVAH * Toda rabba dear friend.

  4. how stupide can be people

Comments are closed.

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