Sharona Margolin Halickman
Sharona Margolin Halickman

Israel: A home or a vacation destination?

Photo Courtesy Sharona Halickman

In Parshat Shlach, before the scouts went to check out the Land, Moshe gave them some questions to keep in mind (Bamidbar 13:17-19):

…Go up there into the Negev and on into the hill country, and see what country it is. Are the people who dwell in it strong or weak, few or many? Is the country in which they dwell good or bad? Are the towns they live in open or fortified? Is the soil rich or poor? Are there trees in it or not?

And then Moshe told them what souvenirs to bring back (verse 20):

You shall strengthen yourselves and take from the fruit of the Land. This was during the season of the first ripe grapes.

In Bamidbar 13:23, we see which fruits they brought back:

They reached Nachal Eshkol and there they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes- it has to be borne on a carrying frame by two of them- and some pomegranates and figs.

They may have also brought dates as they said (verse 27):

We arrived at the land to which you sent us and indeed it flows with milk and honey and this is its fruit.

Honey in the Torah usually refers to date honey.

Out of the seven species of the Land of Israel, the only ones that they did not mention or bring back were wheat, barley or olives.

Rabbi Moshe Lichtman in his book, Ertez Yisrael in the Parashah, quotes Rabbi Zev Leff:

The scouts brought back the fruits that people usually eat for dessert, not the ones used for the main part of the meal. In effect they were saying, “Eretz Yisrael is a nice place to visit- a beautiful vacation spot…but it is not a practical, viable place to live.”

In order to keep Covid out of Israel, most non-residents have not been able to enter the country. This is the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel that tourists couldn’t just pop in for a quick vacation. Even those who have a “valid” reason for entering such as visiting close relatives or attending a wedding, bar/bat mitzvah or birth of a grandchild are faced with endless paperwork and there is no guarantee that their visit will be approved.

When this is all over, I wonder if aliya will be on the rise or if things will go back to how they were before.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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