A Gift From G-d
Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Parshas Shelach Lecha
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You can stand next to the thing you are looking for all your life, but you won’t see it unless G-d opens your eyes. You can stand next to your soul mate for 100 years, and unless G-d opens your eyes, you are still looking in every direction but straight.... It is possible to stand next to the person who loves you the most and not even know it.
The Medrash teaches: Rabbi Binyamin said: Everybody is blind until G-d opens their eyes to see. (B”R 53:19)
The episode of the spies was the most tragic in Jewish history. G-d forgave us for the Golden Calf, He took care of Korach -- but the Meraglim, the spies, are plaguing us until today. The Tisha B’Av tragedies that afflict us century after century all trace back to that night when all of Israel cried upon hearing the negative reports about the Land of Israel – from the spies.
The story of the spies is not an enigma. One does not have to be a Prophet, a Kabbalist or even a Talmudic scholar to understand what made G-d so angry. It is very simple. G-d gave us a gift and we rejected it.
We were so blinded that we misinterpreted everything. “It is a land flowing with milk and honey, there are beautiful fruit in the land, and the people are actually giants!” They turned G-d’s blessing into a curse.
The Malbim points out that once in history may have been an anomaly, but the problem is that we keep on repeating the same behavior! Chazal interpret the verse in Eicha “dimasa al lechiya” “the tear of Jerusalem is still on its cheek.” We are still repeating the sin of the spies. Even during the time of Ezra, when the destruction of the first Temple was still fresh on our minds, we chose Babylon , “because we are comfortable living in Babylon and Aliyah to Israel means poverty, hard labor and fear.” (Rashi on Kidushin 69b). A miracle happened before their eyes and they spoke of it as a curse! Rabbi Yehoshua Falk, (student of the Rama author of the Sm”a, lived around 1600) observed that the Jewish community of Worms was especially affected by the pogroms in Europe . He explained that the community of Worms dates back to the time of Ezra. During that time, the elders of Jerusalem wrote to them encouraging them to come home. They responded in a letter, “You keep the large Yerushalayim and we will keep the small one.” This, explained the Sm”a, is what brought upon them the terrible pogroms.
At this difficult juncture in history, when the roadmap for peace is crinkled and blurred, I suggest two simple yet profound spiritual exercises. Once again G-d has given us Eretz Yisroel. This is a blessing of historical proportion. So first, we must be careful what we say about Eretz Yisroel. It is, after all, a special gift from G-d.
Secondly, we must be sure not to fall into the Meraglim trap. Recognize the blessings that surround us. Our families, our homes, our jobs, our safe community, are all gifts from G-d. The more we appreciate them, the more we will receive.
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