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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘diaspora’

“Hebrew Book Week” Interview with Tzvi Fishman

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The “People of the Book” are the People of the Torah. But Jews don’t only love the Torah – they love all kinds of books. “Book Week” is beginning in Israel, when book buying reaches a crescendo. In just about every city of the country, you’ll find crowds of book lovers flocking to outdoor book fairs, lured by the discounted prices on the season’s new book, as well as on classics from the past. To put our Jewish Press website fans in the mood for a little book reading as well, we’ve decided to interview our new blogger, Tzvi Fishman, who is also a popular and prize-winning novelist, about some of his books and the role of literature in Jewish life.

Yishai Fleisher: Let’s start out with your popular novel, Tevye in the Promised Land. In Israel, it’s been a longtime bestseller. Especially in the national religious community, everyone’s read it, adults and young readers alike. For Jewish Press readers who may not be familiar with the story, the novel begins where “Fiddler on the Roof” left off, with Tevye the milkman and the Jews of Anatevka being expelled from their beloved village. Your action-filled adventure brings Tevye and his family to the Holy Land where he becomes a pioneer builder of the Land. What motivated you to write the story?

Tzvi Fishman: When I became a baal tshuva and left Hollywood, I felt bad about leaving Tevye behind in galut. Like millions of other Jews, I loved Sholom’s Aleichem’s famous character, as if he were a part of my own family. When I saw the film of “Fiddler” as a totally assimilated teenager, it blew me away. Outside of the movie “The Ten Commandments,” it was the first time I had ever seen something “Jewish” on the big screen. I fell in love with the character. His lively relationship with God gave my soul a poke that awakened something Jewish inside. I didn’t become a baal tshuva on the spot, but the movie planted the seeds. When I finally made aliyah, I wanted to bring Tevye along with me, to share in the incomparable blessing. So I repainted the character and set him in the middle of the amazing pioneer saga of how Israel was reborn.

YF: You hear a lot of people claim that aliyah is difficult, but no one has ever encountered more challenges than Tevye. He faces highway robbers, storms at sea, mosquito-infested swamps, plagues of malaria, Turkish thieves, marauding Arabs, locusts, secular Zionist suitors who sweep his daughters off their feet… yet he always clings to his incredible faith in God.

TF: Just like the Jewish People. He’s a symbol for all of us. The trials he faces are a miniature version of the trials we have had to face as a People throughout Jewish and in rebuilding our homeland.

YF: Your book of humorous and satirical short stories about Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora, Days of Mashiach, was recently published in France. How did that come about?

TF: Among the avid lovers of Tevye in the Promised Land was a person who worked as French translator. She took it upon herself to translate the novel, which was subsequently published in France. When the book sold a lot of copies, she translated my book of short stories and some non-Jewish publisher grabbed it, which is sort of a miracle because the book is super right-wing, religious, pro-settlement Israeli. But the publisher insists that the stories have a universal message and compares my writing to Kafka and Voltaire, whatever that means.

YF: It means he thinks you’re a good writer. In your novel, The Discman and the Guru, you have your young Holden Caulfield-like protagonist, Sam Singer, set off from LA on a quest to find God which takes him to London, Paris, Rome, India, Mecca, and finally Jerusalem, where he nearly sets off World War III for trying to pray on the Temple Mount. Is his journey autobiographical?

You Can be a Giant!

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

I don’t know why some readers get angry at me. I only remind them what it says in the Torah. If you don’t believe me, here’s another remarkable essay by Rabbi Kook, whose vision of the rebirth of the Nation of Israel was light years ahead of everyone else. Once again, we are presenting an encapsulation of a chapter from his classic, Orot. Readers are encouraged to read the full commentary in our book, Lights on Orot – Eretz Yisrael.  It may be the most important ten bucks you ever shelled out in your lives.

If we could dissect a soul, what would we discover inside? What would a microscopic examination reveal? What are a soul’s components? Its atoms? When we probe as deeply as we can into the anatomy of the soul, suddenly under our high-powered lens, an Alef comes into focus. Then we see a Mem, and a Taf. If a soul had a genetic make-up, we would discover that its DNA helix is made up of Hebrew letters.

The Hebrew letters are the atoms and basic building blocks of the Jewish soul. The letters which Rabbi Kook describes are not only the outer, graphic shape of the letters, which have meaning in themselves, but the inner essence and content of the letters. In another work, “Rosh Millin,” Rabbi Kook writes in depth on the meaning of each of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Unlike the letters of the English alphabet which are mere symbols of sounds with no inner meaning of their own, the letters of the Holy Tongue have an independent existence, and spiritual roots in the celestial worlds above.

In the wisdom of the Kabbalah, letters are understood to be powerful, life-giving forces. The Gemara teaches that the Hebrew letters were used to create heaven and earth. Bezalel knew how to combine the letters which were used in Creation. It was this secret wisdom which enabled him to build the Mishkan.

The Torah itself is made up of letters. Each letter is said to represent one of the basic 600,000 Jewish souls in the world. In addition to their alphabetical form, each letter has a deeper, living nature. Every letter contains a concept, a direction, a will which finds expression in the soul. Beyond a person’s individual ego is the deeper, general will of existence. There is a force of life which is Divinely inspired, and this is what inspires each individual ego and psyche. The inner components of this deeper life-force are the Hebrew letters. Just as the letters are the building blocks of Torah, and of the world, they combine to form the molecular blueprint of the soul. What atoms are to the physical world, Hebrew letters are to the spiritual. Thus, Rabbi Kook writes: ”The soul is filled with letters which are infused with the light of life, full of knowledge and will, full of spiritual seeking, and full existence.”

The soul is filled with letters which contain the Divine life-force which grants us existence. They themselves have knowledge and will and a quest for spiritual inspiration. All of a Jew’s primary activities, whether his thought, will, deed, and imagination, stem from the letters of his soul. Different combinations of letters make for different types of souls. There are high-powered combinations, and there are souls of lesser might. According to the brilliance of these life-giving letters, a man’s soul radiates with more and more energy.

“From the rays of these living letters, all of the other levels of life’s building are filled with the light of life – all of the aspects of the will, of knowledge, and of deed, of the spirit, and of the soul, in all of their values.”

Like atoms, these letters exist in a constant, dynamic flow. They are active, full of knowledge, motivation, inspiration, and will, constantly affecting the life of the soul. They are full of vision and imaginative flight. They are filled with full existence, not bounded in nature, containing a blueprint for all of Creation within them; in the same way that a molecule contains a solar system of atoms within it, and a cell contains the genetic structure of the body as a whole. Every soul contains a blueprint for all of the world. Letters activate letters in a constant chain reaction which is the motivating force of all life.

The Biggest and Holiest Adventure in the World

Monday, May 28th, 2012

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.

God is the Biggest Zionist of Them All

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Speaking at the recent Dangers of the Internet mega-gathering of 50,000 Haredi Jews in New York, a rabbi declared that the Internet was the greatest threat to the Jewish People since Zionism. In my humble opinion, rabbis who make statements like this, alienating their followers from the Eretz Yisrael and the supreme holy mitzvah of settling the Land, are as much a danger to the Jewish People as all the very grave problems of the Internet. This same blindness led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Jews in Europe, when many pre-Holocaust rabbis told their communities not to escape to Zion, but rather to stay where they were, even though people like Rabbi Kook and Zeev Jabotinsky repeatedly warned of the imminent devastation to come. It is the very same blindness which caused the Spies in the wilderness, who were the spiritual leaders of the tribes, to rebel against God’s command to journey on to Israel, bringing about the death of their entire generation in the desert.

The universally respected Torah giant, the Gaon of Vilna, taught that the sin of Spies haunts the Jewish People throughout all of its wanderings, and that many are caught in its deceptive web, including Torah scholars. He states:

“Many of the transgressors in this great sin of, ‘They despised the cherished Land,’ including many of the guardians of Torah, will not know or understand that they are caught in this sin of the Spies, and they will not sense that they have been sucked into the sin of the Spies in fostering many false ideas and empty claims. And they cover their beliefs with the already proven fallacy that the commandment of settling the Land of Israel no longer applies in our day, an opinion which has already been proven false by the Torah giants of the world, both the early and later halachic authorities” (Kol HaTor, Ch.5).

God Himself is a Zionist. In another two days, we will be celebrating the holiday of Shavuot which commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. But with all of the greatness of the event, Sinai was not to be the last stop on our journey. God tells the newly formed Jewish nation: “You have dwelt long enough at this mountain – go up and possess the Land!” (Devarim, Ch.1) There is a special place for the observance of the Torah – not in the wilderness, not in the lands of the gentiles, but in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of the Jews.

Yes, the Ribono Shel Olam, the Master of the World is a Zionist. So was Avraham Avinu, Moshe Rabeinu, Yehoshua, King David, Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the Macabbees, all the Prophets of Israel, including Ezra and Nechemia who led a seemingly motley crowd of sinners back to the Land of Israel from Babylon to rebuild the Holy Temple. Why didn’t the majority of Jews join in? In the harsh words of the Torah giant, Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, in his classic work on Jewish Faith, The Kuzari, they preferred to stay in Babylon with their businesses and villas, thus undermining our return to the Land:

“This is the sin which kept the Divine Promise with regard to the Second Temple from being fulfilled. Divine Providence was ready to restore everything as it had been at first, if they all had willingly consented to return. But only a part was ready to do so, whilst the majority and the aristocracy amongst them remained in Babylon, preferring dependence and slavery, unwilling to leave their mansions and their affairs. Had we been prepared to meet the God of our Forefathers with an honest mind, we would have found the same salvation as our fathers did in Egypt. If we say in our prayers, ‘Worship at His holy hill; worship at His footstool; He who restores His glory to Zion,’ and other words of this nature, this is but as the chattering of the starling and the nightingale. We do not realize what we say by this sentence, nor others, as you can clearly see,” (Kuzari, 2:22-25).

The Sages of the Talmud teach that the Almighty is in charge of everything that transpires in the world – even the path of a leaf as it falls to the ground, God sends an angel to accompany its journey. How much more does this apply to the vast and miraculous ingathering of the exiles and the rebuilding of the Jewish Nation in Israel which we have witnessed in our time! Who has brought all of this world-sweeping drama to pass if not the Master of the World Himself? Who has directed all of the awesome and terrible World Wars surrounding the modern State of Israel, toppling great empires, and formulating new international agreements, if not the Holy One Blessed Be He? Who has brought about the tremendous agricultural and technological wonders that all the world has witnessed, and raised the devastated Jewish People out of the ashes of the Holocaust and put a Samson-like prowess in their hearts to become a military giant if not the Maker of Heaven and Earth? Who has orchestrated the massive building in the reborn Jewish State, including an unsurpassed proliferation of Torah institutions and Torah learning that has made Israel today the Torah center of the world – who has done all this if not God Himself? Yes, God is a Zionist. A proud and fierce Zionist. As fierce a Zionist as can be. And as all the Prophets of Israel have told us, He wants His People in the Holy Land He gave them, and not in the cursed lands of the exile, no matter how temporarily comfortable these exiles may be.

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

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

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.

Why Help Build America When We Can Help Build the Land of the Jews?

Friday, May 11th, 2012

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.

Q & A: ‘Tal U’Matar’ When A Person Leaves Israel After The 7th Of Cheshvan

Wednesday, December 10th, 2003

(Originally published in 2003)

QUESTION: What does a person do if he left Israel after the 7th of Cheshvan (which was on November 2 this year), where they already commenced saying “Ve’ten tal u’matar,” but before they start doing so in the diaspora (typically on December 5, but on December 6 at Maariv this year, since the evening of December 5 is a Sabbath)?

Isaac Hager
Brooklyn, NY

ANSWER: Let us first review the halacha as stated in Orach Chayyim (117:1), based on the Gemara (Ta’anit 10a). In the blessing of Birkat Hashanim, the 9th blessing in the Shemoneh Esreh, one is required to say during the rainy season of the fall and winter, called yemot ha’geshamim, “Ve’ten tal u’matar li’veracha – Give dew and rain for a blessing.” They begin the request for rain in the diaspora at the Maariv prayer of the 60th day after Tekufat Tishrei (the autumnal equinox, which is usually December 4 or December 5). In the Land of Israel they begin their request on the evening of the 7th of Cheshvan. The Taz (O.C. ibid.) explains that Israel needs more rain since it is more elevated than other lands, hence the earlier start date for the prayer there. We in the diaspora follow what was done by the Jews living in Babylonia, which was not in need of rain to the same extent as Israel.Thus, a person living in the Land of Israel must request rain on the 7th of Cheshvan, while one who lives in the diaspora starts his request on December 4th or December 5th. This year the 60th day falls on a Sabbath, and so we start saying “Ve’ten tal u’matar” on the first weekday Shemoneh Esreh following the 60th day, which is on Motza’ei Shabbat, December 6.Your question does not mention whether the person who travels is a resident of Israel or a resident of the diaspora, but as we shall see further, some of the practical applications might be the same.

In his responsa Minchat Yitzhak (10:9) the Gaon R. Yitzhak Yaakov Weiss, zt”l, asks your question and postulates that when one has already started the request of tal u’matar, one does not stop. He cites the statement of Birkei Yosef (117:5) in support of his view – that “a resident of the diaspora currently in Israel, and a a resident of Israel currently in the diaspora, both utter their requests according to what is done in the city in which they are at that time. The reason is that the resident of the diaspora who is now in Israel has a need [for rain] during his stay in Israel, whether short or long. The chayyei sha’ah – daily life - requirements of the residents of Israel pertain to him now. On the other hand, the resident of Israel visiting the diaspora is a yachid, and an individual may not request anything [if it is presently not the official time of request for that community].”

R. Weiss continues to cite Birkei Yosef, who rules that a resident of Israel who began to say Ve’ten tal u’matar on the 7th of Cheshvan and then traveled to the diaspora should not stop reciting that phrase, for otherwise it will be a matter of derision - one day he says it and the next day he does not.

R. Weiss continues with the comments of the Ridvaz (Responsa Ridvaz, Vol. 6:55), who differs in opinion. If it is the intention of the resident of Israel to return to Israel at some time within the time frame of the request for rain, he begins his request on the 7th of Cheshvan even though he has not yet returned. However, if he has no immediate plans but expects to return after the winter season has concluded (after the first day of Passover), he requests rain starting on December 5th, as is done in the place where he will reside for the season.

R. Weiss also notes that even according to this view of Ridvaz, if one (who is temporarily in the diaspora) is appointed to serve as a sheliach tzibbur, he would only say Ve’ten tal u’matar in his silent Shemoneh Esreh but not in the repetition for the congregation.

R. Weiss concludes that the Birkei Yosef’s view - according to which one who has started to say Ve’ten tal u’matar in Israel would continue even in the diaspora – applies only to a resident of Israel. However, a resident of the diaspora who returns to the diaspora following a visit to Israel during which he has been requesting rain would cease saying Ve’ten tal u’matar and follow the custom of his hometown.

R. Moshe Stern, zt”l, the Debrecener Rav (Responsa Ba’er Moshe, Vol. 7, O.C. 3:117) voices the opinion that a resident of Israel who intends to stay in the diaspora for a longer period does not start saying Ve’ten tal u’matar until later, like a resident of the diaspora. This is in accord with the Birkei Yosef.

However, if suddenly there was reason for him to return to Eretz Yisrael, he is to begin saying Ve’ten tal u’matar as soon as he boards the boat [or plane] for his return to Israel, and he does not need to wait until his arrival in Israel. As long as he has not embarked on the boat or plane, but only has the intention of doing so, i.e., as long as he is in the diaspora and is not traveling, he does not say Ve’ten tal u’matar because of the possibility that he will change his mind and stay. R. Stern then adds that if this traveler has an overwhelmingly compelling reason for returning to Israel that will not allow for any delay in his departure, he must immediately start the request of tal u’matar even while still in the diaspora.

He also cites Dvar Shmuel, who likewise rules that one requests rain according to the custom and needs of the place where one is presently residing. However, he feels that a resident of the diaspora who happens to be in Israel on the 7th of Cheshvan, but knows he will shortly return to the diaspora, should not commence the request for rain (notwithstanding the view of Dvar Shmuel and Birkei Yosef) since he will have to stop it in the middle. Therefore it is far better that he not begin but follow the halacha as laid down by the Mechaber in Orach Chayyim (117:2): “Individuals in need of rain in the summer time do not request it in Birkat Hashanim but say it in ‘Shome’a Tefilla’ [the 16th blessing of the Shemoneh Esreh].”

Thus he will not be making a request for a need contrary to his present place of residence (even though his request is in the form of a tefillat yachid, an individual request) when he says it as part of Shema Kolenu. This is regarded as the most proper solution in this situation.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-tal-umatar-when-a-person-leaves-israel-after-the-7th-of-cheshvan/2003/12/10/

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