Reflections On Tisha B’Av 5774


tb3The Kina by Reb Yehuda HaLevi, ציון הלא תשאלי לשלום אסיריך, which we read today, starts by asking Tzion (Zion) to inquire after her prisoners. What Prisoners is the Peytan referring to? He could not have been referring to the prisoners in Israel as he (Reb Yehuda Halevi) wrote this poem on his way to Eretz-Yisroel. There weren’t Jewish prisoners at that time in Israel and R’ Yehuda Halevi certainly didn’t know of any. He wasn’t referring to Jewish prisoners in the Diaspora because what would that have to do with his journey to Eretz-Yisroel? The answer is really simple: the peytan is actually referring to everyone in the Diaspora who cared about the Holy Land and somehow hasn’t been able to go there. Reb Yehuda Halevi is making a strong point. He is pointing out that most Jews are prisoners to the Diaspora!

We’ve been going through harder times of late. Harder times not only for those of us privileged to live in Eretz Yisroel but even for those of us still living in the Diaspora. Whenever there is an escalation in Israeli-Arab tensions there is a greater and more brazen showing of Anti-Semitism worldwide. This time, however, there has been a tremendous wave of anti-Semitism world round. While Jews around the world are beginning to fear the rise of blatant Anti-Semitism Jews in Eretz-Yisroel are not. We, living in Eretz Yisroel are living comfortably. Yes, we are living in a state of war but we are comfortable. Some of us experience rocket fire less frequently and some of us more. This means that some of us are living our regular daily lives and just run every now and then to a safe place for ten minutes. Others of us live in areas that are being bombarded and may have even had to temporarily flee their houses. We in Eretz-Yisroel are comfortable with who we are and where we are. We are in the shelter of our home protecting ourselves from the outside Jew-Haters. This is a level of security only those of us in Eretz-Yisroel can experience.

All politics aside Eretz Yisroel is the land for Hashem’s Chosen Nation. We are all supposed to one day end up back in Eretz-Yisroel. The Halacha rules that הכל עולין לארץ ישראל – that anyone can decide to go to Eretz-Yisroel and leave behind certain obligations in order to do so; that one spouse can even force the other to come with them. This means that halachically speaking coming to live in Eretz-Yisroel is paramount.

What’s holding the majority of Jewry from coming to Eretz-Yisroel? The answer is that the majority of Jewry is imprisoned in the Diaspora. Usually being imprisoned entails being locked up somewhere against one’s own will. However, in our imprisonment in the Diaspora we don’t see prison cells, so where is the imprisonment?

We live in an era in which a lot of emphasis is placed on emotional and psychological health. We are conscious of the fact that a person has a mental element and can have all sorts of emotional complexes. In our day-in-age so much of our lives revolves around how we individually and personally view things. We no longer need physical confines to keep us captive we can be captives of our own emotions. Something about the Diaspora is keeping us emotionally bound. Somehow we cannot break loose of Chutz LaAretz. But if it’s our emotions keeping us in bondage we are the only ones who can let ourselves free. Tzion (Zion) is inquiring about us, are we interested?

May we be Zoche that soon we will no longer need to defend our home, and that all our brethren will join us at home.

Rabbi Yissachar Dovi Krakowski 

Rabbi Yissachar Dovi Krakowski is the director of Kashrus for OU Kashrus in Eretz-Yisroel. He previously served as Rov of Kehilas Torah Vechesed and is currently a Motz in Sharei Chesed.  Rabbi Krakowski learned in Beis Hamedrash and Mesivta of Baltimore, Shaar Hatorah-Grodna in queens, South Fallsburg, Brisk, and Kollel Nachalas Elazar.

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  1. Is even pure halacha not out of bounds from being used as Zionist propaganda?

    HaKol Olin does NOT mean that it is “paramount” to come live in E”Y; only, as he mentioned earlier, that it does override certain other obligations.

    Halachicly, according to any Rabbi from even Rabbi Herschel Schachter of “Modern-Orthodox” YU (listen to his shiur online from this past Israeli Independence Day) to mainstream Orthodox Rabbis, moving to Eretz Yisrael does NOT override one’s Torah and chinuch of one’s children among other very important items.

    Regarding the “security situation”, I wish Rabbi Krakowski the very best and that Hashem should keep all our brethren safe and sound throughout the world.

    But I’m sure the Fogel family, HY”D and many thousands of others cannot rationally agree with Rabbi Krakowski because they were savagely murdered by Arab beasts, a phenomenon that was made far worse by Zionism and a danger that is, to a very great extent, unique to Eretz Yisrael (and some Arab lands, of course).

    Nothing in the civilized world compares to the very real risk that CH”V some savage will come out from some Arab village and stone an entire family in their car, R”L L”A. Nothing in the civilized world compares to a country bombarded by rockets by a certified terror organization yet the world couldn’t care less.

    B”H for Hashem’s rachmanus and nissim, but the State of Israel is statistically the most dangerous place for Jews among civilized nations.

    Surely Rabbi Krakowski is aware of the terrible punishment for violating the Gimmel Shevuos. Aliya biChoma, which he essentially promotes in this piece, is halachicly forbidden.

    May Hashem redeem us all BB”A.