Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sorry to Disappoint You

by Tzvi Fishman

I will try to be as polite as I can and sensitive to the feelings of my beloved brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. I don’t mean to strike out at anyone, nor burst anyone’s bubble. But look what we have here this Shabbat! A Torah portion that pertains unequivocally, completely, 100%, exclusively to the Land of Israel! That’ right, ladies and gentlemen, if you didn’t believe me before, this week’s Torah portion, “Behar,” proves that the Torah was given to be performed in the Land of Israel alone!

Take a look for yourselves! The whole Torah portion details the laws of Shmittah and Yovel, which cannot be performed anywhere else! That’s right! Only in the Land of Israel! Not in Brooklyn and not in France. Only in the Land of Israel! It’s one and only Land that has its own Sabbath!

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Hebrew, “Shmittah” means the Sabbatical Year, and “Yovel” means the Juuuuuuubilee.

Let’s take a look at a few things in the parsha. G-d says to the Jewish People:

“You shall perform My decrees, and observe my ordinances, and perform them, and you shall dwell securely on the Land” (Vayikra, 25:18).

In other words, we are to perform the Torah’s commandments and do them in the Land. The Torah and the Land and the Jewish People go together. It’s what is called a package deal. If something is missing, it’s not the real thing.

Even the most diehard defenders of galut have to face it. There is no such thing as Shmittah or Yovel in the Diaspora. Zero. Effes. They don’t exist. So if a Jew wants to keep the Torah, and not just snips and snatches of it, he or she has to be in Israel.

Isn’t that clear? Can someone possibly not understand this? That is what is written in the Torah itself for everyone to see. It isn’t a secret. I didn’t make it up - so don’t get angry at me.

Here’s something else. Look at this Rashi. He wasn’t known as a Kabbalist, so don’t try to dismiss it as some mystical magic. The Torah portion states:

“I am Hashem your G-d, Who took you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan to be your G-d” (Vayikra, 25:38).

Rashi explains the meaning of “to be your G-d” by writing:

“For whoever resides in the Land of Israel, I am a G-d to him; and whoever leaves it is like one who worships idols” (Rashi, there).

Booooo! Booooo! Booooo to Rashi!

How can he say something like this? Well, for one thing, it is also written verbatim in the Talmud (Ketubot 110B). Also because he understands that the Torah was given to be performed in Israel. Since scores of the commandments can only be performed there, like Shmittah and Yovel, you would think that’s obvious. But Rashi, far far away in France, feels a need to nail the point home, so that the Jews of Paris won’t forget.

Several blogs back, we gave the Ramban’s explanation of this, regarding the angels who preside over the lands of the gentiles, but even without this esoteric understanding, we can grasp the fact that whoever leaves the Land of Israel is like someone who turns his back on the Torah, because he won’t be able to perform many of the mitzvot which only can be performed in G-d’s chosen Land. Rashi makes it clear even for people who don't believe in the secrets of Torah.

And for those of you who want to squawk, “Rashi himself lived in France and didn’t move to Israel,” Rashi lived a thousand years ago when aliyah was extremely difficult. If there had been El Al Airlines back then, you can be sure he would have come!

If we don't realize by ourselves that we don't belong, the goyim sooner or later remind us.