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The Israel I see

The spies doubted their ability to conquer, inhabit, and enjoy a blessed land, but we can see clearly, beyond that slave mentality (Shelach)

In Parshat Shelach, Moses sends 12 scouts to survey the land of Israel in preparation for their entry. It seems as if God commanded them to go, so why should they be punished for reporting what they saw?

The problem was that their perception was skewed based on their slave mentality. They imagined the natives were stronger than them and “the land was out to eat them”! Although they admitted that “the land is flowing with milk and honey,” it was irrelevant to them. As Robertson Davies says, “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” This appears to be the root cause of the sin of the spies, for when it came to describing what they saw, they said,

There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, descended from the giants. In our eyes, we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes.

They felt unworthy and incapable and projected their insecurities and fears onto the natives and the land. The biggest sin of it all was that they caused their own suffering due to their lack of faith in their G-d-given abilities to successfully conquer, inhabit, and enjoy a blessed land. The huge luscious fruit which should have been seen as a blessing turned into a self-made curse.

I say it’s high time we shed our insecurities and the victim mentality.

We are blessed. The land is blessed. G-d finally gave us back our land and the wherewithal to actualize her potential. If only we can see it…

And so I undertook a pledge this past week: to post a daily example on my Facebook page of the good I see, in the hopes that it will help others see the potential and beauty I have been blessed to experience.

It was my effort to partake in doing a tikun (rectification) for the sin of spies so that we can look forward to a glorious future.

Day One:

Said R. Jeremiah b. Abba in the name of R. Johanan that whoever walks four cubits in the Land of Israel is assured of a place in the World to Come.

I think I found the World to Come here on earth.

The view I get to see when I take my morning walk.

Day Two:

Why would a couple want to get married in front of an ancient tomb?

Perhaps to connect the promise of the future to the hopes of the past.

I marvel that we have knowledge of our ancestors from thousands of years ago. I am increasingly grateful to G-d every single day for ensuring the survival of our people through a painstakingly long exile and for keeping His promise to return us to our homeland. I am also thankful and proud to be a member of a stiff-necked people who refuse to give up and keep the dreams of our patriarchs and matriarchs alive.

Our country is an indispensable part of our past, present, and future. Me’arat Hamachpelah is not just an ancient burial place but it is a place of hope, prayer, and connection to who we are and what we believe in.

Day Three:

Coffee is a must-have wherever I go, and I’m at no loss for delicious places to choose from here in Israel. Israelis love to sit and chew the fat over coffee.

I, on the other hand, am a grab-and-go gal.

Day Four:

Israel uses hydroponics and other creative means to grow all sorts of delicious produce. I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and bug-free these beauties were without using chemicals!
These strawberries are every bit as delicious as they are beautiful. Simply makes one’s taste buds dance in delight.

Day Five:

It is hard not to stop and gaze at such beauty, and so I find myself taking pictures all the time here in Israel.

Lady Bird Johnson wrote, “Where flowers bloom so does hope.” Israel is the symbol of hope as our national anthem Hatikva, meaning hope, attests to. Flowers remind us that even if we are buried in a dark suffocating place, we can still emerge beautifully when we expose ourselves to the light above.




Day Six and Seven:

For the sixth and seventh day, I am compelled to point out the things in Israel that give me the greatest pleasure. The entire week I wait for the moment I can light the Shabbat candles. I love the feeling of gathering around my table with my loved ones to make kiddush on one of the fine wines now readily manufactured in our very own country. I feel the weight of the week lifted off my shoulders as I take the first few sips, and I allow myself to enjoy the things that really matter to me.

The gift of Shabbat in the holy land is in the air I breathe for one full blessed day a week and is indeed now and forever my happy place.

About the Author
Aliza Lipkin is a firm lover and believer in her country, her people and her G-d. She moved from the land of the free (America) to the home of the brave (Israel) 10 years ago and now resides with her family in Maaleh Adumim.
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