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On Tisha B’Av, we mourn over the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, over the destruction of Jerusalem, and over being exiled from our Land. Unfortunately, because of the great length and darkness of the exile, there is a totally mistaken and distorted understanding of what exile is. Instead of experiencing it as a terrible punishment, it is all too often experienced as fun.
When I look at the pictures of Brooklyn and Toronto, and Boca and Beverly Hills, I pray with all my heart that God open their eyes, and give them a heart of flesh to feel the horror of their plight, living in strange impure lands, living make-believe identities, as if they are Americans and Frenchmen and Australians and Germans, when they are really the descendents of Israelites displaced from their Homeland.
The Rambam himself, in his famous, “Letter of Teman,” writes: “Those who seduce themselves and say that they will stay in their places until the king, Mashiach, comes to the lands of the West, and only then will they depart and go forth to Jerusalem – I don’t know how the decree of destruction will be stayed from them. Rather, they are transgressors, and they cause others to sin."
The Jewish Press reports that Kosher Delight is closing its doors in New York, the third Manhattan kosher emporium to do so this year. The real question is: when will “Galut Delight” close up shop? When will the exile lose its delight in the eyes of Diaspora Jews? When will we understand that we don’t belong in gentile lands, no matter how delightful and kosher our Jewish communities may be?
During the night, the Holy One Blessed Be He sits and roars like a lion, saying, “Woe to the children who I have exiled among the nations of the world” (Berachot 3A). It’s like a King who builds a beautiful palace for his children, but they don’t want to live there. They prefer to hang out with the harlots.
All of the directors and presidents of the Jewish organizations and federations and committees and leagues and unions who didn't and still don't call upon their members to pack up and go, they all should be replaced with braver souls. With the scourge of intermarriage decimating our ranks, all of the rabbis who didn't and still don't urge their congregations to go en mass to Israel should read through the Torah once again.
The victory of the Jewish idea is celebrated on Lag B'Omer. It fits neatly between Israeli Independence Day and Yom Yerushalayim. These three days are all driven by the same spirit: the liberation of Jewish peoplehood, the return to the land, and the reemergence of authentic Jewish culture.
That’s right. I’m calling out the Dalai Lama. And here’s my problem with His Holiness in particular, and with Buddhists in general – and it also happens to be one of the first things that drew me to Judaism: Jews understand evil. Buddhists do not.
It has been said ‘It is easier to take the Jew out of the Exile, than to take the Exile out of the Jew’. While in Egypt, the Jewish people could not even hear Hashem’s promise of Redemption because of their “shortness of spirit.” Their bondage wasn’t merely a physical bondage, but a mental one. And so, while still in Egypt, Hashem began the process of taking the Jew out of the psychology of Exile, ridding him of his slave mentality.
Wherever the two holy brothers went on their self-imposed exile they generated a spirit of repentance. Their standard routine was to admonish themselves out loud for their supposed crimes, when in fact their “sins” were precisely the ones that the villager within earshot needed to rectify.
The parents of Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk, Eliezer Lipman and his pious wife, Mirish, emanated from families that could trace their lineage all the way back to Rashi, Rav Yochanan Hasandlar of Talmudic fame and even King David. They lived in the townlet of Lapachi, not far from Tiktin.
"Not again!" you may say. To which I respond, "Yes, again!" I say this as I write once again about the most heinous tragedy that could have befallen us, so even though it may not be popular - even though your reaction may be, "We heard it already" - I am nevertheless writing because I fear we have returned to business as usual.
Reading through one of our local Jewish newspapers, I was delighted to see a full-page advertisement publicizing a celebration for Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day. The 62nd anniversary of the resurgence of the Jewish State is certainly worthy of a party. In fact, after 2,000 years of bloodstained exile, it is an incredible, modern-day wonder.
Special Note: In my last column, I discussed the tragic consequences of Sinas ChinamB jealousy and hatred of the brothers toward Joseph that cast us into our first exile in Egypt, which continues to plague us to this very day. The following is a continuation of that column:
In this season, when we gather around the Seder table to celebrate the birth of our nation, it behooves us to take a few moments to consider what we have learned - what we are taking with us to guide us throughout the year. Among the many priorities we should consider, surely shalom and achdus - unity - must be in the forefront. Sadly, today these pillars of our faith are missing from our families, from our communities and from the world at large. While we may not be able to influence the world, our communities or even our families, we can and must impact upon ourselves - we must emerge from this Pesach - different.
While the heart of Israel's democracy is to be found in the Knesset in Jerusalem, just across the road is a quiet but persuasive work of art that sums up the awesome narrative of Jewish history that finally brought us to the Land of Israel.