Sunday, June 21, 2009

Spies - Past and Present

by we want mashiach

Today, during the reading of the Torah, I found the words of the spies (in America, we read Shelach today) very intriguing. In fact, after reading Rabbi Pinchas Winston for so long, I have come to notice much of our own "spy" mentality quite well.

When the spies came back and began to describe the land, they actually started off pretty nicely. They described the land as flowing with milk and honey, just as Hashem had promised. They explained the might of the nations living there, but also discussed their locations, seeming to say that the land was in fact conquerable. This was the first part. It did not seem like anything "bad" was said about the land, at least not overly so.

What happened immediately after that was the shocker. Calev says 'let us go up into the land and inherit it'. Suddenly the spies changed their story. It was suddenly impossible to capture the land - there were giants; the land was 'eating its inhabitants'; the people are stronger than us (or as pointed out by Rashi and several other places, c"v stronger than Hashem), etc. That seemed to be the main part of the Lashon Hara spoken about the land.

What triggered their reaction? I believe it can be said that the forthright attitude of Calev actually got them scared. It was as if the land was a nice thing they would deal with later at some point. But the moment Calev said let's go up now, they were suddenly struck by fear. Huh? Wait?! We're not ready!

It is well known (explained by Rabbi Winston) that the ARIz"l explains that the generation that will greet Mashiach is the reincarnation of the generation of the Desert. Mashiach ben David is actually Moshe Rabenu as well. The same test that was given to them, would therefore be given to the generation of Mashiach. They failed, we will need to pass.

Today, it is exactly the same. We have all kinds of people who are "Zionists". They love Eretz Yisrael; they make Bar Mitzvahs there; they go to the Israel Day Parade to "show support"; make mock "shuks" in school; make plays for Yom Ha'Atzmaut, etc...But what happens when you tell them that we are ignoring a precious opportunity to do the will of Hashem and move to Eretz Yisrael? You get "it's impossible to live there; there's no business; the taxes....; the government; the army; the bureaucracy, etc".

Isn't it the same? On the one hand, we "love Israel", yet the moment we are pressed to act upon that "love" we c"v deride the land. It seems just the same as the spies and it's quite scary.

We're living in a time where it's no longer just a idealistic thing to do, it's becoming more of a safety concern. While we were promised bloodshed explicitly in TaNaCh before Mashiach, we were at the same time promised safety in Eretz Yisrael (see Yoel 3:5 and Malbi"m). Those days do not seem far away, as anyone listening with even half an ear can attest.

Rejection of Eretz Yisrael is a prime source of Divine punishment, c"v. Not to say that some people don't have legitimate concerns, but the casual rejection is stunning. When it rains on the first night of Sukkot, almost nobody just brushes it off and eats inside. They wait and try to eat in the Sukkah, etc. But yet those same people can casually brush off the Divine will of Hashem to live in the Land or at least aspire to and try to attain that goal. I sometimes wonder if people actually realize what they are praying for. If they did, they would realize that we ask Hashem for the Land more than our health, or Parnassa or anything else. It's in almost every prayer from Al Hamichya and Birkat Hamazon (several times) to every Amidah (also several times).

Maybe we need to realize that our "priorities" (especially if we are the reincarnation of the spies) is not usually [naturally] in line with Hashem's priorities. If we correct the sin of the spies, we will surely merit to see the redemption sprout forth quickly, and painlessly, Amen.