As a kid growing up in the US, I was always fascinated by auto racing and although I’ve moved on to other things, I am very excited to see Formula One racing come to Jerusalem for the first time! My brother Josh and I were invited to a behind-the-scenes event to view of the cars that will be featured in the “Formula 2013: The Peace Road Show”. While looking over the finely tuned, sleek, cars it was exciting to know that they will be soon racing around the streets of my city.
For those that are in Jerusalem or can get here easily, the Formula One event is happening next week, on June 13 and 14th. Legendary racing manufacturer Ferrari is sending technicians and drivers directly from Italy to race in the event, bringing some of the greatest professionals in the motorsport world to Israel.
I write this from IDF reserve duty in the south: Tonight is the Yarzheit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. His love of Jews, Judaism, the land of Israel, and the service of God, always translated into action and thereby continues to inspire us to act and to move the story along. May his memory be blessed, and may his life serve as guidance for us! (Photo of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on my desk overlooking the Temple Mount. The fact we are living back at home on the Mt. of Olives and I am driving a jeep through the hills of our homeland should never be taken for granted. We are seeing historic earthshaking events folks. Let’s make sure we stop and take notice).
This week’s Torah portion has one of my favorite words: Kumah! Kumah means arise, or rise up and it appears in the phrase “And it was when the ark would travel, Moses would say, arise o’ Lord, disperse your enemies, and you haters shall flee from before Your face.” We sing this phrase when we open the ark in the synagogue. This word, Kumah, appears many times in the Psalms as well and, at times, it beacons the people of Israel to break out of apathy and fight, and other times, on HaShem to help Israel win their battles.
To fight there are three main qualities that are necessary: the first one is knowing that you are right and that justice is on your side. For that you need to be educated and know the truth because Israel’s enemies pray on our ignorance. The second quality you need for fighting is obvious: courage! To get into the ring, to respond when the easier path is to back off, to face the bully, you need courage. But the third thing you need when its time to rise up is, surprisingly, joy.
Yes, you need joy to know that victory is already ours, and that Gd’s promise will never leave us. You need joy to get back up when you have fallen and your fighting spirit is down. Joy of life gives us the power to rise up again and face the world. Music gives us that empowering joy, Shabbat fills us with that happy energy, as does nature. All these things comes to their full potential in the land of Israel where the justice, the courage, the joy, the music, the Shabbat, and the nature are all in harmony.
I can hear the song of the land of Israel right now here in Toronto, and it calling all of us to Kumah, rise up, and be a part of the amazing rebirth of the Jewish people in our homeland, united as a nation, under the heavens and the eyes of HaShem.
Shabbat Shalom from Toronto, and don’t forget to Kumah!
Photo at Toronto restaurant called Salfa
Shalom from New Jersey friends. Why is it that we usually end the reading about the census of the Jewish people in the desert right before the holiday of Shavuot?
The Netivot Shalom, a great Chassidic master – buried not far from our home on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, explains that just as there are 600,000 letters in the Torah so too there are 600,000 original souls in the Jewish people and in order to prepare for the receiving of the Torah in its entirety so too the Jewish people have to be unified in their entirety. Therefore an account verifying the completeness of our people – which also bespeaks of our unity – is also to be done right before the giving of the Torah.
Today there are many who think that the fact that our nation is divided in two camps (at least): that is N. American Jewry and Israeli Jewry is a useful defense strategy. According to this logic, if one part of our nation will be G-d forbid be killed – the other one will survive. This is a strategy of the Diaspora (Galut) in which small pockts of Jews ensure their survival literally by living separately. This strategy does not fit today’s period of ingathering to our land and national liberation of the Jewish people.
In fact, this way of thinking stymies the progress of building our country, undermines our strength, and simply does not comport with the very different reality which G-d has granted us. To believe in a Jewish division as a strategy is to be living in the past. There are now over 6 million Jews living in the land of Israel – a fact which no earthly demographer even remotely believed would ever happen. This Shavuot tens of thousands of Jews will be standing at the Western Wall (Kotel) trying to recreate the experience of receiving the Torah as one nation with one heart. It is up to each and every single one of us to actualize the potential of the time that we are lving in. There are voices that want to keep us from attaining that unity. There are also voices calling for our nation to reunite. Which will you heed?
Shabbat Shalom!!!! I am in Edison, NJ tonight – come to celebrate Shabbat, Chodesh Sivan, and Yerushalayim with me. http://yishaifleisher.com/events
Photo of Cherries in the Golan (by Madeleine’s sister who lives in the Golan)
I finally went to the Orthodox Union’s annual Jewish Communities Fair. As a long-time pro-Aliyah activist, I had been curious about this event, and so while on tour in America, I joined the hungry Modern-Orthodox masses at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion as they searched for new communities and a new life in far flung locales like Jacksonville, Florida, Louisville, Kentucky, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin – but not Israel.
I expected to see a moderately attended event. But to my surprise, the venue was packed with over 1,300 people, exploring the forty-one different communities represented. There was so much noise, I had to stand close in order to hear community leaders make their pitches.
Last week was an intense time to be in the U.S. and certainly in Boston. Fresh from Israel, I was ready to talk about the story of the Jewish State, but it seemed God had other plans for me: to live a story in Boston.
So, Friday morning I was walking from the Young Israel of Brookline to the corner Kosher bakery, called Kupels, where I had breakfast every day while in Boston. I must admit I was a bit unplugged from the steady stream of breaking news tidbits and was walking around innocently, when I noticed that there were unusually few cars on the road and that stores seemed to all be closed.
I asked a young lady who was smoking nervously what was going on. “Didn’t you hear?” she said, and proceeded to fill me on everything that had happened overnight: the murder of a police officer, the shootout, the killing of the first suspect and the subsequent manhunt underway for the younger brother. Two things struck me about her tale, the first was the reality of what was happening around me and the strange providence that brought me from “dangerous” eastern Jerusalem to usually-calm Boston to be a witness to this tumultuous and historic time – and hopefully allow me to offer support as well.
In March of 1995 my friends and I were drafted to the Israeli army. We had passed some grueling tests and were accepted to the Paratrooper brigades, the Tzanchanim. The image of the red berets liberating the Western Wall was fused into our psyches like it was in so many young Israeli minds, and more than anything we wanted to serve our country honorably and to the best of our abilities. Six painful months of basic training were ahead of us. In this period of time our minds and bodies were converted from civilian use and become the property of the IDF. We learned to push the envelope of our individual human capacity, and to harness the great strength inherent in an indivisible platoon. (READ MORE…)
I am flying out this morning to Kansas! Incredible feeling to be going to that iconic state of spirituality. Cannot wait to meet everyone at Kehilath Israel Synagogue for an awesome Shabbaton. Here I am getting fueled up with some coffee at the kosher Dunkin Donuts in Elizabeth, NJ!!
Me speaking in Tenafly, NJ last night. A wonderful event at Lubavitch on the Palisades School (LPS) in honor of Yom HaZikaron. Thank you to everyone there! Come to see us in Jerusalem soon.