Why Live In E”Y?

February 24, 2011

As global events get crazier and scarier, many in the Moshiach blogosphere are issuing dire warnings to the Jews who live in America. Some are expressly or impliedly stating that being in E”Y during the End of Days will be physically safer than America.

The truth is, nobody really knows where they should be to physically safe and survive.  It is almost perfectly clear from sources that at least some remnant of Jews living outside E”Y will survive the End of Days. It is also clear that, unless we do sufficient tshuva, Jews living in E”Y also face physical suffering (G-d forbid).

In my opinion, the only real choice a person has is the place where one will die – outside the land, or in the land. And Chazal is very clear that it is far preferable to die in E”Y than outside of it.

Be Honest About It

In terms of right or wrong – if it IS a mitzvah to dwell in the land, then it is the “right” thing to do, or, at a minimum, to strive and long to do.

It is hard for me to understand those who claim it is not a mitzvah to live in E”Y. The great mystic, the Ramban, lists it as one of the 613 mitzvot. The great rationalist, the Rambam, does not list is is as one of the 613 mitzvot but states clearly that a person should live in E”Y, even in a city where they majority of people are gentile. And he forbids leaving E”Y except in a few limited circumstances.

In my opinion, those who claim it is not a mitzvah to live in E”Y are rationalizing – so many people I talk to love to hold by the Ramban when it comes to being mystical and kabbalistic, but scream “Rambam, Rambam” as a “proof” that living E”Y is not a mitzvah. Let’s be honest people!

That said, if a person feels that moving to E”Y is unfeasible because of their personal situation, they should always strive to get there, as if they don’t have a pair of tefillin to wear and strive and long for a set, or a person doesn’t have an esrog for Succot but they strive and yearn for one.

Primary Urgency – To Live In The King’s Palace

And importantly, even if it is arguably unclear whether Yishuv E”Y is a mitzvah, Chazal is very clear that E”Y is the place for a Jew to get as close to G-d as possible. To claim otherwise flies in the face of myriad statements of Chazal.

In my view, the primary urgency should be the urgency to strive to get as close to HaShem as possible and thus, live in the King’s Palace, E”Y. This primary urgency is the main reason why a person should want to live in E”Y.

If a secondary urgency is the feeling that E”Y might be physically safer during the End of Days, then this doubled urgency can help push a person over the obstacles and make aliyah. But nobody is doing anything wrong for not feeling this secondary urgency (although its hard for me to understand how a thinking person cannot feel it).

But if a person does not feel the primary urgency, then, frankly, examination of one’s hashkofah through independent analysis of relevant sources in Chazal and the early Rishonim is in order.

“If I forget thee, Yerushalyim . . . “

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Only Punching Allowed (for now)

February 20, 2011

As a result of major democratic Jewish donor threats, politically motivated PBO vetoes UN resolution calling settlements illegal, but at the same time the US forcefully pronounces them “illegitimate” and reaffirms the US commitment to push for a Pal (War) State.

My first reaction to the news this motzei Shabbat was, “he did the right thing.”  But, with further reflection this morning I realize hat this reaction is erroneous and a result of a galut consciousness where we rationalize and make excuses for abuse.

Victims of Abuse

The Jewish people in exile resemble an abused wife. The Nations have beaten us for thousands of years.  We have become accustomed to it to such an extent that, when they don’t beat us, like, for example, in America, we perceive the lack of being beaten as a kindness.

We’ve been so beat down and abused that we consider not being beaten up a chesed! – “Wow, they are such wonderful people, they’re not beating us up.”  Thus, for example, Jews are wont to say America is the “medina shel chesed” because people here are not abusing and persecuting us.

Let’s be clear – a person refraining from abusing an innocent is not a chesed!! And a person abusing another with a lesser intensity than expected is also not a chesed or a tovah.

Only the victim of abuse might view it so.

Only Punching Allowed (for now)

Likewise, with respect to current events.

America, led by PBO, continues to condone events which are leading to an Iranian takeover of the Middle East. Egypt is allowing Iranian warships, including a large freighter carrying weapons for Hizballah, through the Suez canal.  The US does not even protest against it or try to stop it from happening, although UN sanctions authorize inspection of these ships and confiscation of weapons.  Punch.

And, notwithstanding the UN veto, the US continues to proclaim Jews living in Judea, Samaria, and Historical Jerusalem illegitimate. Punch.

The US continues to push for a Pal (war) State. Punch.

The Pal call for the UN resolution was essentially a call for the Nations to ratchet up the level of abuse from a Punch to a Kick.

The US veto, in context, is a continuing of the status quo and a continuation of the abuse, albeit at an intensity not as high (for now) as the most wicked Nations desire – The US is saying, “Hey boys, only Punching allowed right now.”

(Although, the cynic in me believes the whole “show” is just a ploy to help prop up Abbas by showing he is not an American patsy, and to keep Jewish political donations flowing through 2012).

Purim Connection

So, should we show ha’carat ha’tov to PBO for not agreeing to Kick but rather just keep Punching?

In my opinion, the answer is no.  The US is still punching, and hurting.

Over time, many punches can knock a person down as much as just a few big kicks.

But for sure, thank you to those wealthy non-religious Jews for choosing to exercise their influence with PBO. It is a deed reminiscent of Esther, who used her influence with the evil and arrogant Achashverosh for the good of the Jewish people. This should be a great merit for them.

Given that the vote took place on Purim Katan, the parallels are obvious and clear.

HaShem is protecting us, and giving us time to do tshuva.


Israel Off The Grid

February 6, 2011

Last week, our community shul’s bulletin informed us that an 11 year old boywas injured in a skiing accident and rushed to the hospital. Doctors treating the boy performed a body scan. During the scan they noticed a lump in the boy’s chest.

Thank G-d, the boy is recovering well from the skiiing accident, but this week he undergoes a biopsy on the lump.  Please daven for this little tzadik’l, Ephraim ben Sarah Tikvah – he and his family should hear good news and he should have a refuah shlema.

All of us have heard similar stories where an “accidental” injury led to the discovery of an unknown, potentially life-threatening condition.  And because of the accident and consequent discovery, the patient received immediate treatment and was healed.

Hidden Disease – Relying on the Unreliable

The application of the “accidental discovery of a life-threatening condition” principal is clear to see in current events related to Egypt. The pro-democracy riots, sudden and accidental in nature, are revealing a hidden, dangerous condition: relying on the unreliable.

The SOI is unwisely relying on a weak reed that is unreliable and threatens to give way, break, and pierce the SOI at any time; it is now clear to all that the strong man Mubarak’s fall will lead to Egypt’s implicit and/or explicit abrogation of the Camp David peace treaty.

Already the SOI has been given a strong hint of what to expect in the future in terms of Egyptian unreliability. As a result of “terrorism” in the Sinai, 25% of Israel’s natural gas supply has been cut off overnight.

Hopefully, this incipient stage of Egyptian betrayal will wake the SOI up to the fact that all of their current geopolitical reliances are misplaced, and that the nation will take anticipatory actions towards military and economic self-reliance based on this fact.

As all nations surround us, we must prepare for “Israel Off-The-Grid.”