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Parshiot Mattot -Massei – What does it mean to love Eretz Yisrael?

In this week’s blog:

We look at journeys , our journey in life , and the journey of the children of Israel to Eretz Yisrael.

This Parsha brings up a very important matter. How should we actually relate to the Land of Eretz Yisrael? What does it mean to love Eretz Yisrael.

Journey prayers.

Every day every hour we’re beginning new journeys. The fact of the matter is that we are all on journeys where we go, where we camp, where we settle down,when we start the next journey, that is all in Hashem’s hands,it’s all by His decisions. We need to learn how to journey. We need [to learn how] to daaven sincerely.

We are about to enter Eretz Yisrael and we look back at the forty-two journeys it took us to get from Mitzrayim to the Promised Land. These journeys are our journeys, both personal and national throughout our history. Presently we are still in the "wilderness of the nations" [Yechezkel 20:35] and we must not and cannot stop daavening.

How do I begin my daily journey, my weekly journey, my Shabbos journey? My family journey, my career journey, how do I do all these things without sidetracking and delaying my arrival at my destination?

We all have a purpose and destination in this world, we want to get there. We are in a relationship with the Ribono shel Olam – the Master of the World. The question is how long is it going to take, how many times will I be diverted, how many journeys, spirals and loops, turn-arounds, ups and downs, and up again, will I have to go through before I get to my destination?

How many more life journeys, how many more steps forward and backwards and forwards before I get to my life destination, before I manage to be and manifest the beautiful person that Hashem dreamt of, when He dreamt of me before creating the world?

Joy and Tshuvah Without a doubt joy is a major factor, a major player in getting to our destination, successfully, as is Tshuvah.

Tshuvah, real tshuvah is so so important. It is a divine gift, that Hashem gives us the possibility of doing tshuvah. It is absolutely the most important and most needed gift for achieving our destinies as individuals, and as a people.

It is so very important not to see ourselves as victims of circumstances. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks relates that when he met the Lubavitcher Rebbe the first time, the Rebbe asked him what he was planning to do on campus for the benefit of the Jewish student body. He began his answer with the words “if circumstances will allow …” but before he could continue, the Rebbe corrected him saying, “you create your circumstances.” We create our circumstances, good or ‘chas v’shalom’ the opposite, within those imposed upon us in life.

As long as we’re breathing, as long as we’re alive, Hashem is giving us the opportunity to begin the next step of our next journey; the opportunity to go deeper within, to discover our true essence. That’s what each journey is all about. We travel with learning Torah and doing mitzvot, and we try to do so no matter how difficult the circumstances. The context of each challenge, creates the opportunity for us to go deeper and higher, to do the mitzvot from within ever deeper depths. Each time we have a chance to do a mitzvah, is another opportunity for our souls to truly manifest.

So I need to do tshuvah to remove all the barriers that have piled up. Basically, I am responsible for all these, even though I can give many excuses that will explain how these barriers came to be. I can ‘excuse’ myself, so to speak, but ultimately it is my decision if I want to let these barriers stay where they are or if I want to try to get rid of them.

Whichever way I decide is important, because it is really me who is responsible.

So it is me who really needs to learn to be in touch with my neshamah. It is me who needs to learn and know that no matter how far away my soul seems to be from its source and root, it is never disconnected from its root.

It is for me to say “Ribomo shel Olam, I admit that I have all these barriers, I admit that I am responsible for many of them because I myself brought them on. And I admit that I want to, at least want to want to get rid of them. I admit there are times when it seems like I don’t have any control over them, that I don’t have the strength to do the work. I also admit that You Hashem, do have the power and the compassion to keep me connected, to keep on giving me courage. I admit that I’m not always having an easy time saying sincerely, “Hashem, I am sorry, I regret.” I would like to, but I’m still, to a certain degree trapped in victim consciousness; a victim of jealousy, lust and pursuit of honor, the three biggest obstacles that prevent us from reaching our destiny and manifesting our purpose, our true selves in this world. [Rabbi Elazar

Hakapor in Pirkei Avot 4:21]

So I turn to You, Ribono shel Olam, I want to turn to You and ask of You to compassionately open my heart and eyes, to see, to realize and know that I am still connected. To know that I can still serve You with joy, that I can still learn Torah and do a mitzvah with joy. To trust that all these heavy days will soon turn into holidays. I need Your compassion to help me gather my strengths and keep them focused to use my time well, to learn Torah b’simcha, because it’s Your Torah and You want me to learn it, because You gave it to me to learn, because that is how You have given Yourself to us.

I still want to do a mitzvah with joy. I want to be connected in a real way. I really don’t want these barriers and klipos to stop me from being a real Yid, from being a real good father, husband, a real good friend, a real good teacher. Therefore, I ask for Your רחמים מרובים –abundant compassion… This is my journey prayer, I want to be the real Shulim ben Sara Rivkah and Yosef Yekusiel Zusha. Amen

THe Rabbis teach that since the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of 'sinat chinam', it will be rebuilt out of 'ahavat chinam' -- baseless love.

May we all be blessed to truly renew and deepen our 'achdut', oneness and unification with each other and with Hashem, and may we merit to see the reestablishment and return of the Beit Hamikdash, [which is already complete, it only needs to be brought down from heaven to earth] quickly in our days, together with the speedy arrival of Mashiach Tzidkeinu. Amen, kein yehi ratzon.


Our parsha this week begins with the laws of nedarim – vows. It is amazing that Hashem has given us the power to infuse and transform space, time and people, with ‘kedusha’ – holiness. Breath, voice and words are very holy and powerful, it is with these that Hashem created us and all worlds. Because we are created in the image of G-d and because it is a mitzvah given to us in the Torah, we too can bring holiness into the world and most importantly, live and be holy.

Vows and Living in Eretz Yisrael – The Holiness and Power of Speech

The commentators ask why are the laws of vows found here at this particular juncture in the Torah – at the end of Bamidbar, just before entering into the Land of Eretz Yisrael? As we have learned and seen, much of 'Sefer' Bamidbar contains stories, mostly about very tragic mistakes and events – and as we have learned, the Ishbitzer Rebbe refers to 'sefer' Bamidbar as the 'Torah' of mistakes and what we learn from them. It would seem therefore, that this section of Torah would belong elsewhere, possibly in 'sefer' Vayikra. Various answers to this question can be found in the commentaries on the Torah. One answer may be as follows.

Life conditions were going to change drastically as soon as we would enter Eretz Yisrael. Most particularly, we would be moving from a rather spiritual and miraculous way life in the desert, to a much more physical 'this world' way of life in Eretz Yisrael. Instead of eating 'manna' – bread from heaven, we would now have to get involved with planting, sowing and reaping, and all other sorts of involvement with the mundane world.

When we get very involved with the mundane world, we have the tendency to forget what is of utmost importance, and what is only of secondary importance. Too often the physical and material aspects of life become all important and matters of spiritual importance get very little attention.

Empowerment. When service of Hashem takes a back-seat to pursuit of wealth and power, when we find ourselves losing our faith in actually achieving true connection between our ‘supernal point’ and our ‘lower [mundane] point’, we need to empower ourselves. One can derive much benefit and strength by taking on a vow, be it a vow of abstinence or a vow to do something particular or special. Making such vows can help the individual refocus on what is really important.

In this context of the final preparations before entering Eretz Yisrael, the laws of vows are actually very appropriate here; they teach us how deal with being involved in the mundane aspects of life – how to live in the land and to do so in holiness.

Learn the power of speech; learn the holiness of speech. Especially when feeling like you’re being swallowed up in the 'earthliness' of life, by its demands and its attractions, learn to respect the power of voice and the holiness of speech; learn to speak holy speech.

Our grandson Shlomo, entered the Israeli army this week. May Hashem protect him and all our sodiers from any and all harm. May we all be blessed to live in peace. Our friends hosted a little gathering of family and friends in his honor. At one point Lee asked all of us to shout energetically TODA HASHEM – THANK YOU HASHEM! We did so a couple of times. doing this helps us realize that we don't have live in 'victim consciousness'! Even in the midst of hardships, with sincere holy voice and speech we are empowered to move forward in practical holiness

Loving Eretz Yisrael (5765 – 2005)

This parsha brings up a very important matter. How should we actually relate to the Land of Eretz Yisrael? What does it mean to love Eretz Yisrael? These questions are particularly important now! – not only because we are in the midst of the Three Weeks [of mourning and fasting over the destruction of both the First and Second Temples] but also because of what is happening right now in Eretz Yisrael, and I'm not talking politics.

It was ten years ago when received the sad phone call in the middle of the night, informing us that Reb Shlomo zt"l passed away and that the funeral was to take place in Yerushalayim. A number of the 'chevre' got together at Yakkar, to plan and organize for the 'levayah' – the funeral. The question of who should deliver the eulogy arose. Various suggestions were made and discussed. I was hoping that someone would come up with a name that would be both a great honor for Reb Shlomo and would also be a satisfactory choice as everyone was concerned. Suddenly I was inspired to suggest that Rav Yisrael Lau, who was the Chief Rabbi of Israel at the time, should be the one invited to eulogize our Rebbe Reb Shlomo zt"l.

I had met Rav Lau in Auschwitz of all places, during the March of the Living in 1994. Rav Lau spoke at the memorial assembly in that death camp, and all were very moved by his words. When the memorial service was over everyone was leaving the grounds slowly. As I was walking with some friends, I mentioned to them that my Rebbe, Reb Shlomo thought very highly and was very fond of Rav Lau. My friends continued ahead as I was walking slowly absorbing what was happening. A minute or two later, Rav Lau was coming from behind me. I quickly went up to him and said Shalom Aleichem and I told him that my Rebbe really loves him very much. "Who is your Rebbe?' Rav Lau asked. "My Rebbe is Reb Shloime Carlebach," I said. Lifting his hand skyward and with a big warm and full of love smile Rav Lau exclaimed "Ah Reb Shloimele, Reb Shloimele!"

I recalled that moment and shared it with the 'chevre'. B"H everyone quickly agreed that this was a good suggestion and I went to the phone to call Rav Lau. He wasn't home and I left a message with his Rebbetzin that we wished him to deliver the 'hesped' – eulogy. She asked me to call back soon for an answer. We were all pleased that accepted to do so.

Rav Lau spoke beautifully and said many beautiful things about Reb Shlomo zt"l. One of the striking things that he mentioned was Reb Shlomo's great love for Eretz Yisrael, how he loved every bit of the Land, every stone, every pebble. Here are some of Rav Lau's words:

"…. And now, this day, we follow Shlomo as he experiences this day, a day that is altogether Shabbos and rest eternal. What a great soul you were, Shlomo, what a quintessential soul... Perhaps once in a generation does such a soul turn up—who knows the Source from Whence it was hewn—from the Roots or from the Higher Worlds?

Shloimele, I can only say one thing to you. The Torah talks of four species" Etrog (citrus), Lulav (palm)Hadas (myrtle) and Arava (willow). Their initials spell אעלה "A'aleh" (I shall arise). Shlomole, today is the day that you will arise!

The Hadas is called a branch of interlaced foliage. What is special about the Hadas about which we have been commanded? It’s leaves emerge in three’s, and on a ‘beautiful hadas’ the 3 leaves are in a straight row. These leaves represent three loves. First and foremost, "V'ahavta et HaShem Elokekha" (You shall love G-d")-- this is the first leaf. Secondly "V'ahavta l'reakha komokha" (Love your neighbor as yourself) -- this is the second leaf. And the third is "Uverakhta et Hashem Elokekha al ha'aretz ha tova asher notan lach" (Bless G-d for the good land He has given you) - - the love of our holy land, of Israel.

It is not the case of all of us that these three leaves line up. For one person, love of Torah might be stronger than his love of the Jewish people. Another person's love of the Jewish people might be stronger than his love of G-d. And then there are those whose love of the land of Israel may be stronger than both of these other loves. The Rambam (Maimonides) calls a Hadas of this type—one whose leaves are not equal—"hadas shoteh"—a fool's myrtle.

Shlomole, you were a wise Hadas, whose sweet fragrance was diffused to the furthest reaches. The hadas of these three loves were within you, and every leaf of this hadas suckled from that same inner point within all Isael, hewn from the Rock of Israel: an awesome love for the Divine, boundless love of Torah, and total unconditional love for all of Isael, people, land—every clump of earth of it. I might say he was connected to every letter of the Torah, every soul of the nation, every clump of earth of the holy land. … "


What inspired Reb Shlomo to love Eretz Yisrael so much? Was it the land itself or was it because this is the Land that Hashem gave to His People as a Divine gift? Here are some of Reb Shlomo