Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog
 Printer Friendly

Shlach 5780

The Land of Israel has always been a challenge to the People of Israel. There are many reasons for this, both obvious and subtle. The Land of Israel plays a central role in Judaism, in Jewish life, within its laws and world view. Yet, for a great part of Jewish history, the Jewish People itself was absent from the Land of Israel. Because of this absence, the Land of Israel was not a reality in Jewish everyday life. It became a goal, a spiritual value, an imaginary place of perfection and holiness. It adopted a utopian character, a place well neigh impossible to translate into reality.
Though, over the past century the Land of Israel and the People of Israel again began to be joined one to another in actuality, it became difficult for many Jews to accept the reality of the Land and the People as opposed to the imaginary dream that had existed for millennia. 
This I think helps explain the attitude of certain sections of Jewish society, interestingly enough both very secular and very religiously observant, that somehow finds it difficult to adjust to the miraculous and unforeseen reunification of the Land and the People that has occurred in our time. Expecting perfection or purely holy behavior, the existing reality is therefore frustrating and even disappointing to them and they reject this miracle of Jewish rebirth and of the great process of the rebuilding of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel in our time.
When the spies that Moshe sent rejected the Land of Israel thousands of years ago, they also did it out of ill perceived but relatively high motives. They saw the dangers inherent in the creation of any national entity and of the potential divisions that would necessarily arise within Jewish society. They realized that they would have to fight wars against strong enemies and work to till the land and develop an economy and a way of life. They realized that all of this somehow had to be compatible with the intrinsic holiness of the Land and of its special qualities. 
They were nervous that “the eyes of the Lord their God would be fixed upon them and the Land from the beginning of the year till its conclusion.” They would have to combine the sword, the plow and holy learning in their personal and national lives. This was and is an enormous challenge that the generation of the desert shrank from. It is much easier to retain and be loyal to an image of the imaginary Land of Israel than to the nitty gritty of the actual Land of Israel.
Calev and Yehoshua said “aloh na’aleh” we will be worthy to elevate ourselves to meet that challenge. Our generation is in the midst of the third attempt of the Jewish People to realize its physical and spiritual ambitions in the Land of Israel. It is a difficult process but one that we cannot or should not shirk from attempting to succeed and thereby justify all that has happened to us in our past history.
Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Berel Wein

Subscribe to our blog via email or RSS to get more posts like this one.