Parshat Shlach: Praising the Land of Israel
This week we read Parshat Shlach. Finally, we have arrived at the conclusion of the story. We are heading home—to the place promised to Avraham Avinu so many generations ago.No need to figure out what to bring on the lift, no need to get opinions as to who is the best lift company and whether you should stuff the drawers with tuna and toilet paper, no need to fill out all the Nefesh b’Nefesh application forms, find out when ulpan is starting, or figure out where to get your teudat zehut.
Automatic entry, with everything arranged and provided for us by our loving Father HKBH. And then it happened, someone suggested that we should first take a pilot trip before deciding on Aliyah. Instead of the end of the story, we have the beginning of a new story of 40 years of wandering in the desert.
The sin of lashon ha’ra spoken by the spies sent to scout out the Land is one that we still must rectify even to this day. All the tefilot and pleas of Moshe Rebbeinu did not reverse the decree of HaShem, only delayed it. Only after 40 years, and the death of all those who participated, did we finally get to come home.
HaRav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Israel’s first Chief Rabbi wrote that this action of rejecting the Land of our inheritance is something for which we continue to suffer and that it is the root cause of all our yishurim and persecutions.
How to repair? The spies “despised the desirable land…” (Tehillim 106:24). Rav Kook taught that we must do the exact opposite. “We must declare to the entire world the Land’s magnificence and beauty.” (Igrot HaRe’iyah, Vol. 1 pg. 112)
HaRav Kook spent his entire life working to correct this catastrophic mistake. He did not limit himself to speeches and sepharim on the topic, but took every opportunity to convince Jews in chutz l’aretz to come home to Eretz Yisrael.
\We can do the same. When prospective olim come on pilot trips before making aliyah, we must be sure to fill them with so much positive information that their only question will be, “how soon can I book my aliyah flight?” When prospective olim write to the various aliyah yahoo groups, we should be careful to answer their questions honestly, if we are qualified to answer, and in a way that will engender love for the Land.
Israel is truly the land of opportunity. We are the technological innovator for the world, we have one of the strongest economies and lowest unemployment rates, the happiest citizens and the best kosher food anyone could ask for. For sure, absorption has its challenges, but we do not need to share every difficult experience that we ever had or offer it as a fait accompli that this is what awaits everyone.
Being careful with the way we speak about Israel can be our personal tikkun for the sin of the spies and at the same time we can play a big part in bringing more Jews home to the Good Land that HKBH gave us.