The Real Torah

This essay should be a permanent post on the front door of every Jewish home alongside the mezuzah, and people should read it every day to remind themselves who they really are as Jews and what real Judaism is really about.

As we approach Tisha B’Av, it is indeed a fitting time to take a new/old look at the Torah and at its eternal truths, which are as true for our time as they were in the times of Moshe Rabeinu. That’s one of the basic principles of the Torah – it doesn’t change.

Sometimes people ask me. “Why do you waste your time trying to teach Diaspora Jews, over and over again, that the Torah is meant to be kept in the Land of Israel, rather than in Brooklyn, Boca, or Beverly Hills?”

The answer is because I love them. When you love somebody, you want the best for them. Even if you saw a total stranger about to fall off a cliff, you’d scream out to warn him – all the more so regarding someone you love.

Now, there are those who say, “What do you mean ‘fall off a cliff?’ Jewish life is great here in Brooklyn and Boca!”

It may seem great to them now, but at the end of their wonderful 120 years in Brooklyn and Boca, when they get to the gates of the real Gan Eden, they are going to be surprised to learn that they have to return back to Earth and live life all over again until they finish their tikun. It won’t help them if they’ve learned the whole Talmud ten times over. They’ll have to go back for another reincarnation. Why? Because they, we, the whole Nation of Israel, were thrown into exile because we transgressed the Torah when we lived in the Holy Land long ago. So our rectification, atonement, and tikun is to return to the Land of Israel and keep the Torah, there, in the Land of Israel, the way it was meant to be kept. Souls are reincarnated over and over again until they get things straight. The lucky ones, that is. For those who don’t make it to Israel while they are alive, when the Resurrection of the Dead comes around, their bodies will have to roll all the painful way through underground tunnels from their Diaspora graveyards to the Holy Land, because, as the Zohar explains, the Resurrection of the Dead only takes place in Israel.

Our Sages inform us that the roots for the Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem were planted long before the Destruction itself, on the night the Spies in the Wilderness returned from their ill-fated mission and convinced the Jewish People not to journey on to live in the Promised Land. That night was the 9th of Av. Their rejection of the Land of Israel was the rotten foundation which brought about our later National Destruction. It may be the reason that Hashem has sent the plague of Corona today – to drive His children back to the Chosen Land.

Afterward the destruction, stripped of our own Jewish Land and Israeli Nationhood, we became minorities in foreign lands. Up until the then, the religion of the Jewish People was the Torah, a combination of Divine laws and commandments that covered our individuals lives AND the life of the JEWISH NATION, laws concerning the king, the Sanhedrin, the army of Israel, the Beit HaMikdash, national sacrifices, and the agricultural laws unique to The Holy Land. But when we were cast out of our Land, the Torah lost its earthy component, and our physical Nationhood ceased. Instead of being the Divine Constitution of our NATION, the Torah was reduced to moral teachings and a handful of individual commandments, like the bones of a large salmon at the end of the Shabbos morning Kiddush. That’s when “Judaism” started. Stripped of our own Land, and Israelite monarchy, our own ISRAELITE NATIONHOOD was lost. Exiled in other peoples’ countries, we were left with the few ritual precepts that we could still perform, like putting on tefillin, keeping kosher, learning Torah, and observing the Sabbath. Instead of being our NATIONAL CONSTITUTION, the Torah was truncated into being just a religion without its many fundamental NATIONAL, POLITICAL, and GEOGRAPHIC obligations and demands.

For example, a gentile can be a Buddhist or Christian anywhere he wants. The Pope lives in the Vatican, but there is no obligation for any other Christian or Catholic to live there. The same holds true for Islam, Buddhism, of Hinduism. These are religions, period, with a division between church and state. Not so with Torah. The Torah encompasses the entire life of the Jewish People, the religious and NATIONAL as well. But when we were severed from our earthy base, the Land of Israel, where Hashem wants us to established the NATIONHOOD of ISRAEL, we were left with a truncated “Judaism” – the religious rituals of the exiled tribe of Judah, which could still be practiced in galut, but without the Torah’s DIVINE NATIONAL FORMAT and NATIONAL LAWS. Instead of being a NATION, a CLAL, we became scattered individuals in foreign gentile lands.

This is what the Spies failed to understand. Even though they were respected Torah scholars and the heads of the tribes, they wanted to make do with exile “Judaism” alone, content with just the personal precepts, without the hassle of conquering and settling the Land. And this same misunderstanding has continued to this day, when you can still find many people, Torah communities amongst them, who just want to observe a handful of individual precepts in the wilderness of foreign lands, without having to worry about the hassle of settling the Land of Israel and fighting for it in order to keep it under Jewish sovereignty as the Torah commands. They have created a new Torah. It still contains the same words, but the Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn and Beverly Hills skip over the sentences they don’t like. Whenever the commandment to dwell in the Land of Israel is mentioned, the fellow who reads the Torah for the congregation pronounces the words, but few people listen, and even fewer act on them. In Brooklyn and Beverly Hills, they have invented a new Torah, the Torah of the Galut. But that’s not the real Torah. The real Torah was given to be lived in Eretz Yisrael. Hope to see you here soon.

 

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