Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Shelach - Mevorchim
As the nation stood at the threshold of Eretz Yisrael and Moses told them that it was time for them to conquer it (Deuteronomy 1:21), a pivotal incident took place. Twelve of the truly great leaders of the nation, one from each tribe, went to survey the Land - and came back with a report that demoralized the people and caused them to lose faith in their ability to occupy their Divinely ordained inheritance. As a result, the entire generation was condemned to death in the Wilderness and Israel's entry into the Land was delayed for nearly thirty-nine years. (Source: Commentary to the Stone Edition Chumash)This is the Shabbat when we announce the new month that begins next Tuesday night through Thursday - Tamuz. Only a bit more than two weeks into that month, we begin the period of The Three Weeks, culminating in Tisha b'Av - a date which is immortalized in this week's parashah.
Yechezkel HaNavi prophesied that we would repeat this error in the time before Mashiach comes. And before anyone says, "Bad prophecies don't have to happen," let me remind you that every horrible prophecy given about our future has come to pass until now - because we don't ever seem to learn our lessons. Why should we expect that to change at the last moment - especially when we are at rock bottom spiritually?
This is what the prophet of God says...
...I will take you out from the nations and gather you from the lands to which you were scattered, with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath; and I will bring you to the wilderness of the nations* and I will contend with you there, face to face. Just as I contended with your forefathers in the Wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I contend with you - the word of the Lord Hashem/Elokim.
...I will separate from among you those who rebel and those who transgress against Me; I will take them out of the land of their sojourning, but they will not come to the soil of Israel; then you will know that I am Hashem. (Yechezkel 20:34-38)*The commentary says regarding wilderness of the nations: "You will be punished in a deserted area, so that your enemies do not witness your downfall." This is reminiscent of the reason our sages tell us that the four-fifths who didn't make it out of Egypt died during the plague of darkness.
Where is this "wilderness" today? According to a famous story concerning Rav Aharon Kotler, it is America.
Rav Aharon ultimately emigrated to the United States via Siberia in 1941 to join Rav Moshe Feinstein in building post Holocaust Yiddishkeit in America. It is told that he performed a Goral HaGra to help determine if he should move to Eretz Yisroel or America. It took him to the Pasuk in Shemos 4:27 "And Hashem said to Aharon go towards your brother Moshe in the desert." The desert referring to America which was desert compared to the lush and fertile grounds of the European Yeshiva world. His brother Moshe he understood as Rav Moshe Feinstein. (Source)Everyone wants to believe that the ultimate redemption will come with mercy. What if it is, but we have failed to recognize it? What if two-thirds were condemned to die and the entirety of the "West" - Europe and America were doomed, but Hashem separated it into two parts with 70 years as a grace period in between? Clearly, the warning went out to European Jewry and they failed to make the appropriate response. Here we are still in the shadow of that horrendous event with warning sirens blaring all around us and still - still - literally millions of Jews are still failing to make the appropriate response.
Don't say you didn't know.
I will take them out of the land of their sojourning, but they will not come to the soil of Israel....Like the original "scouts," who perished in the wilderness, but it did not have to be!
It does not have to be!!