Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Sh'lach - 5774

My friends,

This Shabbat we read the well known story of the Meraglim - the spies or the scouts that Moses sent to check the Promised Land and report back to the Children of Israel. He sent 12 individuals. Each one of them was a leader of his tribe. We know the story: They come back and bring the great fruits from Israel including the famous cluster of grapes that was so huge it had to be carried by two people. Ten of the spies said that, although the land is good - look at its fruits - the people are too tough and there is no way that the Israelites can conquer that land. Caleb and Joshua said that the people can win as long as they have faith in G-d. The ten spies then added that the land is no good, and that the people who live there are of giant size.

The people believed the majority report and cried all that night, saying that it was better in Egypt and questioning why G-d brought them out, if it is only to have them fall at the hands of the Canaanites. That night was the night of Tisha B'av, which became a night of mourning for the future. The punishment was that that generation would wander for the next forty years in the wilderness, until all men who were twenty years and over would die, and only their children - the new generation - will enter the Promised Land.

It would seem that the people who had been enslaved in Egypt were not willing to give their lives for the Promised Land. They had heard about the historic land promised to their ancestors, but they were not willing to fight for it. Only their children who will study Torah for the next forty years and develop loyalty and love to the Promised Land will be worthy of entering the new land.

I believe that that battle continues through our days. Those who love Israel and remember that it is their ancestral land are willing to suffer obstacles and difficulties for the sake of the land. Those who view Israel only since its creation in 1948, sometimes are willing to do things that might compromise the historical rights of our people to this land.

The Palestinians are conducting a global propaganda campaign, trying to question the legitimacy and rights of the Jews to this land. As Jews of the Diaspora, we need to stand up and show our support for our people in Israel. We waited 2000 years. Now that we have it, no one should be able to deny us the right to our historical home.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram