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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776
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“Why Should I Live in Israel? America Has Everything I Need”


Rav Kook close up

Rabbi Kook writes:

“For him, the foundation of the yearning for Salvation is like a side branch that cannot be united with the deep understanding of Judaism, and this itself testifies to the poverty of insight which is found in this juiceless perspective.”

We mentioned in the previous essay that one of the questions a person is asked when he reaches his Heavenly rest is, “Did you yearn for Salvation?”23 If a Jew is not longing for the Redemption, for Salvation from the exile, then something is wrong. If he is happy in the Diaspora, then his Judaism is out of focus, and he is out of touch with his soul’s deepest yearnings. As the classic study of Jewish faith, The Kuzari, poignantly declares, his prayers for Jerusalem and Zion are like the chatterings of a nightingale, melodious but empty of meaning.24 Because he does not feel his soul’s most inner desires, he does not feel the need to be saved. From what? From whom? Three times a day, he recites the words in the prayer book, “We yearn for Your Salvation all day long,”25 but when the davening is finished, he forgets. The prayers are talking about someone else, about some other time, about some other galut. Because he is removed from the loftiest National goals of Judaism, and from the yearning to Sanctify the Name of God on its highest level, he may not even experience a sense of exile at all.

The Zohar teaches that the Nation of Israel and the Torah are one.30 When a Jew is connected to the secrets of Torah, he is connected to his inner soul, and thus to the inner soul of all of the Nation. There, in the highest realms of the Nation’s Divine Segulot, he unites with the inner soul of Eretz Yisrael which is inherently bonded with the life and soul of the Clal. He yearns for a healthy National life in all of its facets. He comes to understand that the highest worship and sanctification of God’s Name comes through the life of the Nation of Israel, and not through the deeds of the individual Jew.31 Instead of living a private life, he raises himself up to identify with the eternal life of the Clal.

This deeper attachment to all branches of Torah, to Clal Yisrael, and to the yearning for a full National life in our own Jewish Homeland is the Torah ideal. This is the Torah of Eretz Yisrael, the complete Torah; as our Sages tell us: “There is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael.”32

Thus, when a person is cut off from the secrets of Torah, he does not feel anything lacking in being a part of a foreign country and land. He sees no difference between the mountains and valleys of Israel, and the mountains and valleys of Italy or Vermont. His spiritual radar is broken. His recognition of Kedusha is lost. He is unable to feel anguish over the exile of the Nation, because he does not feel a connection to the Nation as a whole.

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.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion 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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