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I bought an astronaut suit. It’s amazing. You can find just about anything you want on the Internet these days. “Why do I need an astronaut suit?” you ask. Because I’m going to America, and I find it difficult to breathe there. The moment I get off the airplane, it’s hard for me to breathe. It feels like there’s no air anywhere. I begin to hyperventilate. My face turns red.

Let me explain. Of course, there is air in America, like everywhere else on the planet. But it isn’t the air of Eretz Yisrael. It doesn’t have any Kedusha, any holiness. So I have to bring my own supply. My astronaut suit has oxygen tanks which recirculate the air from Israel. It cost a lot of money, but without it, I wouldn’t be able to make the trip.


Actually, the feeling that I can’t breathe in America is a good thing. It shows that I’ve made a true connection to Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Kook writes:

“The more one is incapable of tolerating the air outside the Land of Israel; the more one feels the impure spirit of the defiled land of the Diaspora – this is a sign of a more interior absorption of the Kedusha of the Land of Israel, of the sublime kindness which will never abandon the person who has merited to take refuge in the clear umbrage of the Land of Life, even in his distant journeys, even in his exile, and in the land of his wanderings.” (Orot, 1:6)

Rabbi Kook grew up in Russia. Later in his life, he made Aliyah to Israel. He understood the difference between the air of the Holy Land and the air everywhere else. He calls the Land of Israel the “Land of Life.” It is the Land of our Life – the only place we can be our own vibrant, healthy Nation. In contrast, we merely survive in the Diaspora, in small scattered communities under the rule of foreign nations. In the Diaspora we die off slowly, like in a terminal cancer ward, as our flesh is eaten away by assimilation. In the commentary we wrote on the book, “Orot,” we explain this concept in depth. Like with my astronaut suit, you can buy the book on the Internet. It doesn’t cost much money, but it might be the most valuable purchase you make in your life.

Rabbi Kooks teaches that the feeling of suffocation which I experience when I get off the airplane in America is a Divine kindness which prevents me from thinking about staying there and opening a pizza shop called something like “Jerusalem Too.” Rabbi Kook continues:

“The strangeness that one feels outside of the Land of Israel causes a greater bond with the inner spiritual desire for Eretz Yisrael and its Kedusha. The yearning to see the Land increases, and the vision of the concrete, holy image of the Land, which the eyes of G-d are always upon from the beginning of the year until the end, becomes deeper and deeper.”

All the time I’m in America, I keep praying silently, over and over, like a mantra: “Please, G-d, get me back on the airplane to Israel. Please, G-d, get me back on the airplane to Israel. Please, G-d, get me back on the airplane to Israel….”

If I hate being outside of the Land of Israel, why am I going, you ask? The answer is that I have some writing work which I am being paid to do, and since I didn’t take a salary the entire year that I worked on making the movie, “Stories of Rebbe Nachman,” I need the bread. In his classic work of Halacha, the Rambam writes:

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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.