Connecting deeply with Eretz Yisrael
Everybody asks, why did G-d forgive us for the sin of the Golden Calf and didn't He forgive us for the sin of the spies? In this blog, collected from the teachings of Reb Shlomo who makes a passionate case in favour of Eretz Yisrael and Israel , and there is a story and a moving video of Reb Shlomo visiting the injured soldiers at Hadassah Hospital after the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
Everybody knows that Eretz Yisrael has all kinds of Kedushot (holinesses), First of all, it has kedushat avoth (holiness of our ancestors), Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov, G-d gave them the land. Then there is the kedusha of Clal Yisrael, of all Israel. And then, Eretz Yisrael itself is holy, The Midrash says something beautiful. We don't find Eretz Yisrael mentioned until Avraham Avinu.
There is a teaching from Reb Leibele Eiger. He says, until I meet the girl I love the most, I don't need a special place. When I meet the girl I love the most, I want a very special place to be in with her. He says, until Avraham, G-d was never so close to anyone to need a special place. But, when Avraham appeared on the scene, then G-d wanted a place where He could speak to Avraham.
I want to say this a little bit differently. Imagine, I have a place that is my favourite place I am not going to show it to anyone. I'll only show it to the girl I love the most. So, basically, Eretz Yisrael is the land from which the Ribbono Shel Olam (G-d) doesn't ever remove His eyes. He showed Avruham Avinu that place.
Everybody asks, why did G-d forgive us for the sin of the Golden Calf and didn't He forgive us for the sin of the spies? Imagine, I love a girl very much. She says, I'm no good. I can forgive her, I can understand. But, imagine if I show her the place that I love the most and she says that it's a disgusting place! This I can't forgive. This means that she is not connected to the depths of my soul. When we said the calf is G-d, G-d forgave us. But, when G-d showed us the place G-d loves the most, and we said it's no good, that He can't forgive.
I was in a store in Mea Shearim and I discovered a littlebook. It was dusty so they sold it to me for fifty cents. I am sure it was worth hundreds of dollars. It was called "Midrash Eretz Yisrael." It was stolen from me a few days later. Obviously, I didn't have the privilege of owning it, but I remember the first part. It begins like this: One rabbi says that before G-d created the world, He created Eretz Yisrael. He stood in Eretz Yisrael and then He created the world. Then somebody else says that before G-d created the world, He created Yerushalayim. And He stood in Yerushalayim when He created the world. Then, somebody else says that before G-d created the world, He built the Holy Temple. And He stood in the holy Temple, and He created the world. And then another says that before G-d created the world, He stood with children. He stood with children, and He created the world. That means that the first thing G-d did was to put into the world something that is completely holy.
We have to bring the message to Eretz Yisrael to the whole world. The world is so hungry to hear something that is completely untouched by evil.
Link to Reb Shlomo’s teachings on Israel and Shlach on you tube:
Let me tell you a story. During the Yom Kippur War we were playing in Hadassah Hospital. When a soldier is wheeled in a wheelchair, you know that something, G-d forbid, is wrong with his feet. When a soldier walks in, you look at his hands. So, I see a soldier walk in, a Sephardic boy about eighteen years old. In his ordinary life he must have been a very simple boy ! see that, nebech, he has no hands. No arms. During the concert, I don't know why. I started talking about Avraham Avinu. Suddenly he stops me and says: "Did you ever see Avraham Avinu?" I say: "No, why do you ask?" So he says, "I'll tell you later in private. "After the concert he told me he wanted me to know his story. During the war, he and his friend were in the middle of battle, and they had to retreat a little. He suddenly saw that his friend was shot. His friend couldn't move, but he was still alive. So this boy went back and picked him up, put him on his shoulders. and ran with him. While he was running with his friend, he was shot himself - Both his arms were shot off. Do you know what he did? He said that even though he didn't have strength. he kept his friend on his shoulders. Baruch Hashem. he saved his friend's life. But now, he himself has no arms. He said to me: "I want you to know, Avraham Avinu sits on my bed every night, all night long." Avraham Avinu.
How did this simple boy get so much holiness? Imagine, if I would learn Torah day and night. For two thousand years, I could not reach that level of holiness. I could not. That is Avraham Avinu's holiness. Everybody asks, when G-d spoke to Avraham for the first time, why didn't He tell him to keep Shabbos, to keep kashrut? Why did He immediately tell him, "Lech lecha -Go thou from thy land, and from thy father's house ...? "G-d gave over to Avraham Avinu what this soldier knew - to leave everything behind you for G-d, for Israel, for somebody else. This awesome holiness comes from the deepest depths, from inside. This is what Avraham Avinu is all about. Avraham Avinu saw everything until Mashiach. He saw this soldier also. He asked G-d, "How do I know that I shall inherit it ... ?" How can I inherit the holiness of this soldier? When Mashiach comes it will be revealed to us how holy our children are. You never know, sometimes you see somebody and you don't have the faintest idea of how holy they are inside. This is why our generation is so much in touch with the mystical part of the Torah, with the deepest secrets. This generation contains people who, from outside, look like nothing and yet, inside, they are completely holy.
We cannot have redemption unless we are connected to Eretz Yisrael. Eretz Yisrael has to be first, and after that comes redemption.
Link to a visit by Reb Shlomo to Hadasah Hospital in 1973
CONNECTING DEEPLY WITH ERETZ YISRAEL
The essence of this week's parsha and the coming month is about connecting deeply with our holy land, Eretz Yisrael, both physically and spiritually. In the midst of all the concern pertaining to Eretz Yisrael, surely everyone is asking, "Is there anything I can do about it?" The answer is YES!
First and foremost, we all have to affirm our trust and faith in Hashem and that we care deeply about this holy land that Hashem promised our ancestors and that it is His will that we should live in and serve Him here in this holy land.
Our survival and success here in Eretz Yisrael is in Hashem's hands, but we have to do all that we can do- tshuva, prayer, tzedakkah, and 'gemilut-chassadim' – acts of loving kindness and active involvement on behalf of Eretz Yisrael.
We need to sincerely express our concern to Hashem for the well being of Eretz Yisrael. Pray for Hashem to inspire us and our leaders with the necessary knowledge and wisdom to do what is right. Seeing that we love Eretz Yisrael and care deeply for her will arouse the nations to respect Hashem's gift to His people, and our special relationship to Eretz Yisrael. May Hashem answer all our prayers l'tovah. Amen.
Link to Video from Rabbi Shlomo Katz based on Reb Shlomo’s Teachings
With thanks to Reb Shlomo z"L and Reb Shalom Brodt z"l