Sunday, July 19, 2009

Political Correctness

A few years ago, I bought a book in Jerusalem's Old City. When I got it home, I realized that the book was part of a 2-volume set. I had, unwittingly, bought the first volume and all the chapters I most wanted to read were in the second volume. So I returned to the store, only to find that the second volume was out-of-print.

These past few years, I have tried every means at my disposal to locate a copy of the second volume of this work. I coveted it on the shelves of friends, one of whom told me he bought both volumes at a used book sale for laughably few shekels. I researched every used book site on the Internet. On a subsequent trip to Israel, we even drove to a used bookseller in Beit El who listed the set on his website, but, alas, the book was ultimately unavailable.

Two weeks ago, I got an email that an ex-library copy had been found and was available for $35. Without making a conscious decision, I flew over to the Amazon.com site and, miraculously, the book was now available there. Amazon had a tiny number of copies in stock and they were selling for less money than the used copy. I ordered one right away.

The book is Or Hara'ayon by Rabbi Meir Kahane. In English translation, it is titled The Jewish Idea.

This book sings my song. The Torah in this book speaks right to my soul.

And it cheeses off my friends and neighbors.

Recently, we had a Shabbat meal with religious neighbors. The conversation turned, as it often does, to Israel. Because I had recently begun reading The Jewish Idea, Volume 2, I shared some of the thoughts of Rabbi Kahane as I understood them. Today, I have the benefit of having the text before me, so I can quote him more precisely:

"Eretz Yisrael was given to the Jewish People not as a privilege that they could forgo by saying, 'we do not wish it,' but as a duty that cannot be dispensed with." (p. 553)

"What a Chilul Hashem is this refusal to leave the servitude of exile and enter the Holy Land!" (p. 555)

"For this sin [refusal to ascend to Eretz Yisrael] which recurs in every generation, Israel are still suffering, G-d's wrath is poured out on us, and His hand remains raised high." (p. 557)

"Mitzvat Yishuv Ha'aretz, the mitzvah incumbent upon every Jew to live in Eretz Yisrael and not in the exile," is a, "Divine foundation of supreme importance." (p. 557)

"So terribly has the cursed exile warped our nation, that they not only see no personal duty to leave the exile but they do not at all consider it a punishment! What a perversion that is!" (p. 572)

These are some of the ideas I communicated in our Shabbat table conversation about Israel and aliyah. I also said, "I don't know why, but I know very clearly that Hashem calls me, shouts in my ear, making it absolutely imperative that I come Home as soon as possible. And I am doing everything I can to get my family there."

And my friend said, "That's clear. But that doesn't mean that He doesn't send different messages to other people."

I well understand that the politically correct thing to say would have been, "Of course. You choose your path and I choose mine." In reality, it seems that only one of us can be correct here. Either Hashem truly wants all of us to leave the exile, to stop volitionally living under non-Jewish rule and to move to the Land he set aside for us, or He's fine with each of us deciding as we see fit.

How can it be both?

1 comment:

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

I think, if something is "politically correct" perhaps one should run the other way! There are 70 faces to Torah, but they are all Torah. I wish I had read Reb Yoel Satmer's pamphlet about why one should not live in Eretz Yisrael, yet. How can a Jew daven, say bircat hamazon or even Me'ein shalosh, without getting a clear message of where one should at least be longing to go? I think, and I might be wrong, that even Rav Yoel Satmer loved Israel. He just felt it wasn't time to come yet. That's 70 panim l'Torah. But those who behave as if or even express in words that one can live a full Jewish Torah life outside Israel, they are not choosing Torah, or life. My not politically correct 2 cents.