Parsha Shlach - Connecting to 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 favorite 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 Avraham 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 little book. 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.
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.
Reb Shlomo's Teaching on Shlach - Imrei Emet
When the meraglim came back, the truth is they didn’t utter one lie. They told everything the way it was. they said giants are there, living in forts. And it is humanly impossible to conquer them. They were a hundred percent right, they didn’t say one lie. You have to realize one sweet thing. the question is, why do you need spies? If G-d wants to give us the holy land, like Jericho, we walk around seven times, blow the shofar, walls come down and we walk in. you don’t need spies for that. The strange thing is that … with all the super natural way of getting to Israel, we have to pretend that it’s a little bit natural also, has to be both.
There was a big rebbe, when people got sick he would write out a prescription. They would got the drug store and get it. this drug store on the corner of the rebbe’s house, it made a lot of money. So then he was getting older, he had to retire. He said to someone ‘this is a tremendous store, you can make a lot of money’, so he sold it to him. So two weeks later he passes by the drug store and he sees business is bad. He says because the Rebbe write our prescriptions, I just don’t have the medicine the Rebbe is writing out, I can’t sell it to them’. So he says ‘you are mamesh stupid. Do you think the Rebbe writes out a prescription and the prescription helps? It’s the rebbe’s davening, but he doesn’t want them to know. So he hides it. I gave everyone sugar water, mixed it up in a bottle and gave it to them, and it helps’.
It’s the same thing. With all the supernatural, you don’t lose sight of what’s going on. So Moshe Rabbeinu says ‘okay, you want to spy around, that’s fine, you got to know what’s going on. The craziest thing was that they mamesh didn’t lie, they told everything the way it was, and there was something wrong. Have you ever met people., they do everything right, everything is mamesh a hundred percent right and they are still wrong.
So listen to this, what the holy imrei emes says.
The truth is, to mamesh see the truth in this world is a very very special thing.
This breaks my own heart. All the mefarshim ask, why was it that G-d didn’t forgive us? G-d forgave us for the golden calf, G-d forgave for all the sins, why didn’t he forgive us for the spies? Certain thing have nothing to do with forgiving, its much deeper than that. Take a doctor, I G-d forbid have something in my stomach. He will say ill operate you, and then he will cut my arm off. He will say ‘please forgive me’. so I’ll say ‘sure, I forgive you, but you are not a doctor’. When it comes to enter the holy land it has nothing to do with forgiveness, G-d could forgive you, but the thing is G-d says ‘you are not my merchandise. A few little spies can turn you off… if anything can turn you off in the world.
Let’s put it this way. If I want to marry a girl and twelve people can come and turn you off from her – it has nothing to do with forgiving. It means it was shvach, the whole thing was shvach. So what is the whole idea? The thing is, even if it’s true, there is something deeper than truth, real real truth,
So the holy imrei emes says something very deep.
I want you to know one more thing, mamesh a gevalt. This is one of the foundations of the holy Ishbitzer which is good to remember. I’ll tell you something very deep. A lot of people write commentaries on the bible, one sentence, two sentences. Then there are some that right a commentary on the portion of the week, but I have not seen yet someone who is making a commentary on the whole book, on the essence. So in the Ishbitzer it is very strong. What is the essence of Bamidbar, of the whole book? He says the essence of Bamidbar that G-d is telling us stories about how holy people who failed. First beha’aloscha, shalch lecha, Korach, chukas even moshe Rabbeinu, and then pinchas comes with the shitim. Everything, holy people going wrong. Bamidbar, we are not talking about the outside world, we are talking about holy people we have. A gevalt.
So the imrei emes was one of the ishbitzer’s top pupils. He says it is possible to see and everything which you saw is right, but you didn’t see it.
What is the whole idea of tzitzis? After we came back from the spies G-d gave us the mitzvah of tzitzis. Tzitzis means to see, meitzitz min hacharakim. The whole mitzvah of tzitzis is that G-d helps you to really see. Tzitzis is really an important thing, it’s not just a mitzvah. Tzitzis is one thing which mamesh helps you to see, really to see.
I want you to know what i thought, maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong. Historically, we only lived one third of our existence in Israel. So its’ true, but if you have good eyes, you know we were living in Israel the whole time. Someone can show me a fact, you didn’t live there. Ahh… you don’t have good eyes. Got to have tzitzis eyes. After we went wrong with the spies, the holy imrei emes says we realized that with everything we saw – we didn’t see anything yet.
I want you to know something very deep. there is something as hearing and seeing. Then there is some kind of knowledge which is deeper than seeing, hearing and even knowing. Its just so deep. someone will ask you where do you know it from, where did you see that?
The holy Ziditchover said something to the seer of Lublin. He asked him ‘where did you see that’, he said ‘in a book’. ‘whose book’, so he said ‘my book’.
Every person, besides all the books you are reading, you have to have your own book which is deeper than all the seeing and all the hearing. This kind of seeing is the deepest depths.
The difference between Yerushalayim and mount Sinai is like this. On mount Sinai we know about G-d because we hear him and we see him. In Yerushalayim you don’t see and you don’t hear but you mamesh know there is one G-d, its much deeper than all this. So when G-d wanted to put us into Yerushalayim, the spies come back and they say everything they saw. Its true, but you didn’t see anything.
Then something very strong.
It is possible in your own persona life to do everything right and you destroyed your whole life. G-d forbid, its possible. On a person level, what’s the howl idea of coming to Eretz Yisrael? It means I have my place in the world. if you want to find your place in the world, it’s much deeper than seeing and hearing, much deeper than right or wrong, much deeper than all this. Gevalt.
Now he says something mamesh even deeper, this is taka a gevalt. He says what does it mean to be pure? We always think that to be pure means I have to be pure from evil. He says t be pure means I’m even pure from all I see which is really right also, but it’s a deeper kind of purity, real kind of purity. It’s not only that you have pure eyes and you see what you see. You have pure ears and you hear what you hear. But then there is something deeper where you have a pure heart which is even deeper than all this… purity of the heart. This is mamesh a gevalt. We never talk about the purity of the eyes or of the ears, although its very holy also. Purity of the mind, very very important. We always speak of the purity of the heart, vetaher libenu. Because purity of the heart is deeper than all this. If you have this purity of the heart then mamesh whatever happens to you is so deep, got to be something to it.
This is also very strong, mamesh. In the deepest depths, maybe at that moment the spies did wrong, but on the deepest depths. Why did it really happen this way? Why didn’t G-d prevent something like this? That means on the whole, on the deepest depths, we had to go through the whole thing in order to get to the holy land, otherwise we would have never learned this kind of depths. So mamesh, we are learning from the spies that’s its much deeper than all this.
The question really depends how much are you hungry for the truth. Pure means I have nothing… there is nothing in it. A pure vessel means there is absolutely nothing in it, completely clean. If I’m hungry for the truth because i don’t have it yet, that means mamesh I have pure hunger for truth. If I thin I know a lot but I would just like to know more, its not pure, its not pure. maybe its good and sweet but its not pure the difference between Yehoshua and calev and the rets was that Yehoshua and Calev had such a hunger. They were mamesh waiting for G-d ‘please let me know the truth’, cause they mamesh (unclear).