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May 26, 2016 / 18 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Land’

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Twenty: Zichron Ya’acov

Friday, November 16th, 2012

With the birth of Hodel’s baby, the time had come for Tevye to journey onward. Family was a matter of tantamount importance, but a Jew had an even higher allegiance to God. Had not the Almighty warned that life in the Holy Land must be lived according to the commandments of the Torah? That meant observing the laws of the Sabbath and the holidays, eating kosher food, donning tallit and tefillin, guarding the treasures of marital purity, and observing all of the six-hundred and thirteen commandments – most of which were flagrantly ignored by the young pioneers on the kibbutz. True, they were good, idealistic souls, risking their lives, and giving up material comforts to build a refuge in Israel for the Jews all over the world. Their dedication to making the barren Land bloom was in itself an act of great religious faith, but, to Tevye’s way of thinking, faith in working the Land wasn’t enough. Ultimately, a Jew had to live by the Torah. It was enough of a tragedy that his daughter, Hodel, had been led astray by her husband – Tevye now had to think of Moishe and Hannie, who were bound to be influenced by the other children on the kibbutz. And it was wise, Tevye felt, to whisk Bat Sheva away before she fell victim once again to her passions and grow enamored with some other free-spirited hero.

After Ben Zion’s funeral, the heartbroken girl plunged into a gloomy silence. Tevye also felt troubled. The cold-blooded killing weighed on his mind like an omen. He wondered what would be with the Arabs. True, in his travels through the country, Arab villages were few and far between. Occasional caravans would pass along the road, and Bedouin shepherds would appear now and then in the landscape. But as picturesque as they were to Perchik, Tevye had learned that, like snakes in the roadside, their bites could prove fatal.

Driving his wagon along the trail through the mountains toward Zichron Yaacov, where Shmuelik and Hillel were living, Tevye found himself engaged in deep thought. He even imagined that the Baron Rothschild had invited him into his palatial office to discuss the dilemma of establishing a large Jewish population in the midst of hostile neighbors.

“Well, my respected Reb Tevye, how do you propose we deal with the Arab situation?” the Baron asked in his daydream.

Tevye stood by the large globe of the world in the center of the Baron’s wood-paneled study. Gently spinning the orb, his fingers slid over continents as he pondered his response. Tevye’s footprints, muddied from the barn, had left dark stains in the carpet, but the Baron hadn’t seemed to notice. Why should he? With a staff of round-the-clock servants, why should the dirt of an honest, hard-working milkman disturb him?

“I must confess that I am not a political analyst, but only a simple laborer,” Tevye responded.

“Even a simple laborer has opinions,” the Baron said. “And I respect the opinions of every man.”

“My opinions are the teachings of our Sages, and the pearls of wisdom which I have learned from the Torah.”

“And what does the Torah say on this matter?” the Baron inquired.

Before Tevye could answer, the famous philanthropist held out a mahogany humidor filled with fragrant cigars. Tevye took one and allowed the Baron to graciously light it.

“The Torah says that the Arabs are to dwell in the lands of the Arabs, and the Jews are to dwell in the Land of the Jews.”

“The Torah was written a long time ago. Perhaps political equations have changed.”

“The word of the Lord is forever,” Tevye answered. “The sons of Ishmael have been blessed with lands of their own. The Land of Israel belongs to the Jews.”

“Your faith has strengthened me, Tevye,” the Baron said. “Your faith has strengthened me indeed.”

Of course, daydreams are daydreams, and life is life. True, Tevye generally had mud on his boots, but if Baron Edmond de Rothschild ever summoned him to a chat, his secretary forgot to deliver the message. In fact, the Baron was not to be found in Zichron Yaacov at all. He ruled over his Palestine colonies from his castles in France. “Av HaYishuv,” the settlers called him. “Father of the Settlement.” Others called him “HaNadiv,” meaning, “The Benefactor,” after his beneficent ways. Still others called him less pleasant names. His dignified portrait hung in the JCA office, above the heads of the officials who carried out his commands. Under the dark Homberg hat in the picture was a hawkish profile, patriarchal whiskers, a benevolent smile, and a fur-collared coat. Tevye, who fancied himself a fair judge of character, understood right away that the Baron was a unique individual, deserving great respect. As for the bald-headed Frederick Naborsky, Director of the Jewish Colony Association in Palestine, Tevye was less convinced of the sterling nature of his personality.

Tzvi Fishman

Attacks on Southern Israel, Raising Jewish Children, and Rain in the Land of Israel

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

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Yishai and Malkah kick off this week’s show by talking about recent attacks by terrorists on southern Israel and move on to read recently sent e-mails from listeners. They move on to talk about raising children in today’s world and how important it is to raise them with solid and good influence. At around 16:40, they talk about the recent rains that Israel is experiencing and how rain in the Land of Israel is truly a gift. Yishai and Malkah end the segment by further discussing attacks on Southern Israel and how Israel is always a leader when it comes to providing help for other nations in the world, including following Hurricane Sandy in the United States.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Moshe Herman

My Response to the Monsey Rabbi

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

An American orthodox rabbi in Monsey recently wrote a response on Facebook to a post about the importance of living in the Land of Israel. His response was as follows: “You’re in exile, too. Last I checked, there is still a mosque on the temple mount, with Arabs shooting rockets [at you].”

This is my response to him and to every orthodox Jew who shares that mistaken view.

1. There are more mitzvot here in Eretz Yisrael (E”Y) than in chu”l (the diaspora). In all other facets of life, orthodox Jews prefer to put themselves in a position to perform more mitzvot, and in a more mehudar way. Unfortunately, when trying to find a heter to not have to live in E”Y, Jews in chu”l irrationally choose gashmi’ut over ruchni’ut (materialism over spirituality). I’ve had long discussions with my American orthodox friends, and though it usually takes an hour or more, eventually they all admit that that’s exactly what they are doing. I’m sure if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll see that truth as well. You don’t choose to live in America as a matter of religious principle, but rather out of convenience and inertia.

2. No religious Zionist claims that the galut is over, or that it is entirely over for Jews residing in E”Y (though Rashbi said that only one kicked out of E”Y is called an exilee). Rather, the question is one of where a Torah-observant Jew should choose to live. There has always been only one legitimate reason for not living in E”Y: pikuach nefesh (preservation of life). It was indeed dangerous to travel, and dangerous to live in E”Y. But that has changed with the emergence of the State of Israel and modern travel standards, such that the pikuach nefesh argument actually supports living in Israel, which has the 3rd highest life expectancy in the world (and 2nd for men)! By contrast, according to Wikipedia, the U.S. is number 37 on the list.

As you can see, the issue of missiles, terror and war, are blown out of proportion by the media. In fact, American men on average live 4.4 years less than their Israeli counterparts. If we look at stats for just Israeli Jews, life expectancy jumps 1-2 years for men and women, while for American Jews, the stats are the same as the general population. Life here is just plain healthier than in the States, and on a number of levels. I hope one day America will be as safe and healthy a place to live as Israel, but certainly one cannot justify refusing to make aliyah based on safety or health issues.

3. I presume you are familiar with the Gemara’s position on where to live when pikuach nefesh is not a factor. If not, here is the key passage from Ketubot 100b:

“Our Rabbis taught: One should always live in the Land of Israel, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are idolaters, but let no one live outside the Land, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are Israelites; for whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a god, but whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who has no god. For it is said in Scripture, To give you the Landof Canaan, to be your God. Has he, then, who does not live in the Land, no god?  But [this is what the text intended] to tell you, that whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who worships idols. Similarly it was said in Scripture in [the story of] David, For they have driven me out this day that I should not cleave to the inheritance of the Lord, saying: Go, serve other gods. Now, whoever said to David, ‘Serve other gods’? But [the text intended] to tell you that whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who worships idols. ” 

4. Pikuach nefesh aside, there is a philosophical question of whether the Jews should be passive or pro-active in the redemption process. Rather than make the case myself, take the time to read the Vilna Gaon’s position as presented in the first chapter of Kol HaTor (found here).

Robert Klein

Over Here, my Rain Is Happy!

Monday, November 12th, 2012

“I’m singing in the rain, I’m singing in the rain, what a wonderful feeling, I’m happy again!”

Before Shabbat, the Heavens opened with a symphony of thunder and lightning, and the great blessing of rain washed over the Land of Israel in answer to our prayers. Like I do every year with the very first rain, I hurried outside and danced in joy, laughing happily as the raindrops splashed on my face.

“Raindrops keep falling on my head… da da da da da da da da da da da… nothings worrying me!”

Back in the house, I opened the door to the terrace so I could hear the splattering of rain on the aluminum roof. What a wonderful sound! “What a glorious feeling! I’m happy again!” The clatter of raindrops sounded like the clinging of coins in a beggar’s cup. “Rain, rain, don’t go away – stay with us another day!”

When lightening lit up the sky and thunder shook the heavens, I recited their special blessings with exuberant joy. What a privilege to be in the Holy Land when it rains! It’s like every drop is a kiss from Hashem, assuring us that He loves us.

Yesterday, driving to Tel Aviv, it was pouring. I sang all the way! What a blessing to be stuck in a long traffic jam in Israel because of the rain! For nearly 2000 years, we’ve prayed to come home to Israel, and now that Hashem, in His infinite kindness, has allowed us to rebuild our Land, what a joy that we have long traffic jams! It’s a sign that the country is booming!  Would Moshe Rabanu have complained to sit in a traffic jam in Israel? Would Rashi have grumbled? No way!

I can’t help comparing our great joy in Israel over the rain to the recent devastating rains in New York. There it was a disaster. You want to know why? Look at this, from the Torah giant, the “Ohr Somayach,” Rabbi Meir Simcha HaCohen from Dvinsk, from his famous commentary on the Torah, the “Meshech Chochmah,”

“If a Jew thinks that Berlin (New York) is Jerusalem, then a raging storm-wind will uproot him by his trunk – a hurricane will arise and spread its roaring waves, and it will swallow and destroy, and flood forth without pity” (Meshech Chochmah, Pg. 171).

In the same light, the Torah giant, Rabbi Yaacov Emden, writes in the Introduction to his famous siddur, “The Beit Yaacov,”

“When it seems to us, in our present peaceful existence outside of the Land of Israel, that we have found another Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem, this is to me the deepest, most obvious, most outstanding, and direct cause of all of the awesome, frightening, monstrous, unimaginable destructions that we have experienced in the Diaspora.”

In the meantime, I’m yours truly, just singing and dancing in the rain.

Tzvi Fishman

Don’t Tell My Wife!

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

We spent Shabbat in Ashkelon, visiting my wife’s parents. On Motzei Shabbat, my wife stayed in Ashkelon (in the red glare of the rockets fired from Gaza) so that she could take her mother for a medical treatment in the morning. I drove back to Yerushalayim with my children. Along the way, we passed a stretch of fertile farmland. The heavenly rains that had fallen during Shabbat seemed to have awakened the earth, and the pungent aroma of fresh cow manure wafted into the car. My younger boys started gagging and making jokes, the way children do about such things.

“Sheket!” I told them. “I love the smell of fresh bovine in Eretz Yisrael more than any other smell in the world. To me it’s like perfume.”

“Come off it, Abba,” my 22 year-old Golani commando responded.

I switched on the car blinker and started to pull off the highway to the side of the road.

“What are you doing?” my daughter wanted to know.

“Aahhhhhhh,” my youngest son gagged, as the overpowering smell of manure filled the car. “Are you crazy? Don’t stop here!”

But I wanted to teach them a lesson. After all, they were born in Israel. Sometimes they take it for granted. Having grown up in the Holy Land, they can easily forget that things weren’t always that way, that for nearly 2000 years, we were exiled in impure, foreign lands, and that still today, half of our Nation is wallowing away in gentile countries, not knowing the incredible blessing and joy of living in your own Jewish country, upon your own Holy Land.

“Abba! What are you doing?!” my daughter called out, as I got out of the car and trekked off into the dark field.

The truth is, if my wife had been with us, I probably wouldn’t have done it. She doesn’t like me rolling in cucumber fields. The last time I did it, she stayed angry at me for a week. She said that I ruined my clothes and stank up the car. But like my kids, she grew up in Israel too. Don’t get me wrong. They are all crazy about the country, but what smells to me like Chanel #5, smells to them like just plain and smelly cow doo.

“Abba, come back !”

“Abba!!”

Happily, I prostrated myself on the Holy Land and started to roll over and over. The earth was still damp from the rain. The soil of the fertilized field stuck to my beard. The most beautiful fragrance in the world filled up my nostrils, more exhilarating than any reefer I ever smoked in the past.

“Yeeech!” my daughter screamed.

“I’m calling, Ema!” my youngest yelled out.

The rain clouds had passed, and stars twinkled in the heavens. The Rambam writes how the greatest Sages of old would kiss the soil of the Holy Land upon reaching its borders (Laws of Kings, 5:10). The Talmud describes how Rabbi Chia bar Gamda would lovingly roll in the dust of The Holy Land in order to actualize the verse of Tehillim, “For your servants desired her stones and cherished her very dust.”

Rabba Abba would kiss the stones of Acco (Ketubot 112B). Rabbi Kook explained that he wouldn’t merely kiss the ground, which is the basis of the agricultural mitzvot dependent upon the Land, but he kissed the boulders to show the inherent holiness of the Land itself. Rashi, in his commentary to the Gemara, duplicates the verse, “For your servants desired her stones,” without adding any new information, to emphasize the holiness of the very stones of the Land of Israel – up and beyond the Land’s holiness because of the commandments that are performed in its soil.

At the very end of the classic treatise on Jewish Faith, “The Kuzari,” when the Rabbi sets off on aliyah for the Land of Israel, he quotes this same verse of Tehillim: “For your servants desired her stones and cherished her very dust,” saying, “This means that Jerusalem can only be rebuilt when the Jewish People yearn for it to such an extent that they embrace her stones and her dust” (Kuzari, 5:27).

That’s how you bring Mashiach – not by singing, “Moshiach, Moshiach, Moshiach,” but by rolling in the dust of the Eretz Yisrael and doing whatever you can to rebuild the our Nation in our Land.

Tzvi Fishman

I Love Hevron

Friday, November 9th, 2012

As part of our effort to attract our beloved, Diaspora readers with honey, rather than to smash them repeatedly over their heads – in the next few blogs, we will travel the length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael, just like our forefather Avraham did in obeying God’s command, “Arise, walk about the Land through its length and breadth! For to you I will give it!”

Based on a Gemara in Baba Batra 100A, the Ramban explains that Hashem commanded Avraham to walk through the Land out of His love for him, that his offspring might more easily conquer the country, since walking the length and breadth of the Land signified Avraham’s taking possession of it.

So, in honor of the week’s Torah portion of “Chaya Sarah,” let’s start our love affair with the Land of Israel in Hevron. I love Hevron. It’s so powerfully “Biblical.” That’s the best word to describe it. Whenever I’m there, I feel like I’ve traveled 5000 years back through time. The transcendental holiness of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs still saturates the air. The kedusha is so thick, you feel that you can actually reach out and grasp it. Not only is Hevron the gateway to Gan Eden, our Sages teach that all of the Land of Israel is mystically folded up, like a roadmap, under the city. That’s one of the reasons why the Tomb of the Patriarchs is called “Maarat HaMachpelah,” meaning “the Cave that is doubled” or “folded up.” That is also why Jewish settlement in Hevron is so strategically important – whoever possesses Hevron, possesses the Land.

Just like Hevron was a city of giants in the past, so it is today. The Jews who live there are giants. What can I say? Boro Park and Monsey belong to a completely different world. A totally different planet. On my second date with my wife, I took her there, to see how she would react. In addition to praying in the Maarat HaMachpeleh, we visited my good friend, Baruch Marzel, and Rabbi Moshe Levinger. She passed the test with flying colors. I wasn’t surprised – her brother was learning in the yeshiva there.

Before, Rosh HaShanah, I took my two youngest boys to Hevron to ask Hashem to inscribe all of the Jewish People into the Book of Life, in the merit of our holy forefathers. One of our boys studies in a high-school yeshiva in Maale Hever, just ten minutes away, so I visit Hevron often. What a blessing to live so close to this Heavenly place, just a 50 minute drive from my house!

Here are some photos I took on recent visits. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Enjoy! And Shabbat Hevron shalom!

PS – There are a few photos of giant banners hanging on the Peace House during the struggle to prevent the government from ousting its Jewish residents. I made the banners and hung them up with my dear friend, Noam Arnon, spokesperson for the Hevron community. Now that the court has sanctioned our ownership, with G-d’s help, the Jews will be moving back soon!

 

 

 

Tzvi Fishman

Wisdom from Fighting for the Land of Israel for 40 Years

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

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Yishai is joined by Lt. Col. Yedidya Atlas to share wisdom gathered from fighting for the Land of Israel for 40 years.  Yedidya also discusses studying at Merkaz HaRav under Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook and the roots of Arutz Sheva, the radio station where Yishai was formerly the Programming Director.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Moshe Herman

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