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Kenneth Cohen

A Very Good Land

Parshat Shelach might be the saddest Parsha in the whole Torah. We learn of the spies who despised the beautiful Land of Israel. That horrible night of בכיה של חינם, crying for nothing, led to the numerous tragedies that occurred on Tisha B’Av. We were told that because we cried for nothing, it would be a day of crying for generations.

Unfortunately, many Jews, in their ignorance or arrogance, continue to speak badly of our one and only Jewish homeland, and fail to appreciate its holiness and uniqueness. This is particularly painful when G-d’s kindness and generosity is totally ignored. And this includes an unwillingness to see the fulfillment of prophecies made more than 2000 years ago.

It is difficult to understand how some Jews, both observant and non-observant, can feel passionate in their love for Eretz Yisrael, while others, seem to feel nothing.
This could be connected to a Chassidic teaching that noted that there are two occasions when the words, מאוד מאוד, very very, are used. Kalev tells the nation that טובה הארץ מאוד מאוד, that the Land is very, very good. And in Pirkei Avot we are told, הוי מאוד מאוד שפל רוח, be very, very humble.

The connection is that those who are exceedingly humble, are able to see what a “good” Land this is. While others who lack this humility because of their comforts and status, are unable to see the miracle that is Israel. I was sitting on my balcony one morning recently, watching how my fellow Jews go about their daily affairs. I see the trees and flowers in blossom, and an overwhelming feeling of contentment passes through me. I am home and feel blessed as if I am already in the Garden of Eden.

I believe that this is how a Jew should feel. The lessons of the spies that we read each year should be a wake up call to all Jews everywhere. Open your eyes and appreciate the gift and miracle of Israel. It will bring you the spiritual joy that every Jewish soul, yearns toward.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at www.cafehebrew.com
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