In this week’s Torah reading, Tazria, it says, “A man who has on the skin of his flesh a blotch, discoloration, or spot…” (VaYikra 13:2).
Tazria and a lesson about spiritual nourishment
The Midrash Tanchuma (Tazria 6) tells a story about a certain Kohen – Priest, that treated and cured Tzaarat – spiritual leprosy, and other skin disorders. He became poor, and planned to leave the Land of Israel in order to seek a livelihood. He informed his wife of his plan to leave, but told her,
Since many people come to me to cure them, its difficult for me to leave and abandon them.
The Kohen decided to teach his wife how to identify the disorders. He explained to her that every single hair has its own root well, that waters that particular strand of hair. When this source dries up, the hair begins to dry up too. His wife then rebuked him for thinking of leaving Israel, and said to him,
If G-d provides every single hair with its own source of nourishment, how much more you, a man who has many hairs, and whose children depend upon you for their sustenance, will be granted a well, a livelihood from G-d.
She therefore didn’t allow him to leave Eretz Yisrael.
Simple faith – and its lack
Imagine the simple faith of this Kohen’s wife, certain that in doing the Mitzvah of Yashuv HaAretz, the commandment of living in the Land of Israel, the G-d of Israel would provide for their needs, just as He provides nourishment for every hair.
Almost a thousand years ago, Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi in his Sefer HaKuzari, confronted the “Shanda” – the shame of his time.
When questioned by the King of the Kuzars,1 if its a mitzvah to live in the Land of Israel, why do Jews mourn for Jerusalem, yet not go to live there? The rabbi replied,
You have shamed me O King, because of this sin, G-d’s great plan for the Second Temple, never came to fruition. “Sing and be glad O daughter of Zion. Behold I am coming and I will dwell among you.” (Zechariah 2:14). G-d’s Divine Presence would have returned as in the First Temple, if only they had returned to Eretz Yisrael, with a willing heart, but only a few did. The majority, including their leaders, the ‘Big Machers’ – Big Shots, stayed in Babylon, accepting exile and living under gentile rule, as long as they didn’t have to be separated from their homes and businesses.
Why haven’t they enough faith to “go up” to Israel?
So too, we are confronted today, with “religious” Jews in America, France and elsewhere, who are still sitting on the fence, and don’t make Aliyah2 – move to Israel. I won’t even mention rising anti-Semitism globally, as a good reason to come home. And, I didn’t even mention, the more assimilated elements of the Jewish people, because they don’t know any better, or aren’t believers.
Israel of today is not Eretz Yisrael of a thousand years ago, desolate, difficult to get to, and ruled by hostile foreigners. The State of Israel has a thriving economy. More Jews are studying Torah in Israel today, than at least since the Second Temple period. Its much easier to be a religious Jew here. And, more of Eretz Yisrael is under the Jewish people’s control, than since biblical times. G-d’s promised redemption is happening before our eyes.
Why don’t “religious” Jews flock here?
The answer it seems to me is the same as why “religious” Jews, mainly in the exile, have condemned those on the political right in Israel, for participating with Otzma Yehudit during elections. Lack of faith!
In what do they have faith instead?
Certainly the Kohen in the above story, was a good “religious” Jew, going to synagogue every morning, saying “Ani Ma’amin – I Believe…” and setting a fixed time to study Torah every day, just like many “religious” Jews today. But, that’s where their “belief” ends. When it comes to “reality,” a real life situation, either on the personal or national-political level, all faith comes to an end, “You have to be practical…”
So, when it comes to Parnasa – their livelihood, Aliyah and Eretz Yisrael take second place. And, when it comes to geo-political and security issues, many will trust in America and the “Peace Process,” not the G-d of Israel. This affliction effects even “righteous” Jews. The rabbis in Talmud Sotah 48b ask, “What causes the righteous to receive less of a portion in the Next World? And then answer, Smallness.” Rashi the great Talmudic commentator explains, “Smallness in faith.”
Smallness in the faith that the G-d of Israel protects His people, not Trump, not Putin, nor any other frail human…
The heart of the king is in the hands of…
Remember, “The heart of the king is in the Hand of G-d,” (Proverbs 21:1).
Just as there is Divine Hashgacha – Providence, for each root of hair, to provide what it needs to grow, and just as the Midrash teaches, “Every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers: Grow! Grow!” (Genesis Rabbah 10:6); so too, the unfolding redemptive process, is Divinely directed.
Have true faith, and act on it
It’s the job of truly religious Jews to keep the Torah, and do G-d’s commandments, which includes, moving to Israel, even if it means reducing living standards. It means, settling all liberated parts of the Land of Israel (building new towns in Judea and Samaria). It means, returning to targeted killings of Hamas leaders and vigorously suppressing rocket fire on innocent Israelis. It means, expelling enemies who try to harm Jews. It means exercising complete political sovereignty over all of Eretz Yisrael under our control. It means, not worrying, “what will the world say.” This is how Jews in the exile and in Israel, will be cured of their spiritual leprosy today.
Trust in a Peace Process, to be revealed after the Israeli elections, staying in the exile, and continuing the status quo regarding enemies of the Jewish people, are for those of little faith…
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master’s Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
© 2019/5779 Pasko
About the image
The featured image of an open Torah scroll is by Lawrie Cate on Flickr, who licensed it under the CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License
2Aliyah literally means “the way up.”
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