16 June 2022

Parashat Shelach Lecha: "The Land is Very, Very Good"

18 Sivan 5782
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Shelach Lecha

Quoting from The Land is Very, Very Good by Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein...

...The spies are described as having “despised the desirable land.”  At first, this seems puzzling.  Their report about the land was quite good, and quite accurate.  They were positively impressed with it being a land of milk and honey, just as promised.  What frightened them were the people, the inhabitants, not the blood itself.  We can now understand, however, that what they despised and rejected was the special quality of Eretz Yisrael as primarily a spiritual space, a place that transcends nature.  Believing Israel to be a land like others is to despise it, to repudiate its most salient aspect.

To drive home this message, the waters of the Jordan split for them just as they crossed over into the land.  It was a powerful indicator that the land they were about to enter was not restricted by nature but transcended it.  This point remains as true today as back then.  A Jew makes his place in the land through his emunah.  We open ourselves up to the special kedushah of the land by first believing in its standing outside the boundaries of the natural order.

Rav Yehudah HaLevi explains in the Kuzari that there shines in Israel and Israel alone a Divine light that illuminates through Torah, avodah, and all lofty levels of spirituality.  He likens Israel to a vineyard, whose grapes grow best on an elevated hillside.  We Jews as well are best nurtured at the spiritual heights of Eretz Yisrael.

Following inexorably from this remarkable aspect of Israel is the parallel strengths of the kelipah, the forces of tumah that counterbalance its kedushah.  These forces, however, are extrinsic to the land.  They can be overcome.  (Thus, Yehoshua and Calev urged the people on, “The land is very, very good.”  They saw the land while the forces of tumah were still fully resident, before Klal Yisrael could work to banish them.  They still understood that the land was intrinsically good!)  When the Torah warns against impropriety, so that “the land should not spit you out in your contaminating it,” it does not mean that the land will become changed in the process.  It means that the land must and will maintain its essential holiness, and will expel those who introduce contamination to its borders.

1 comment:

  1. Shabbat Shalom;
    Beautiful post! Beautiful Land, holy Land!
    We thank Hashem for His Love & Kindness to us forever and ever, His children, Yisroel. Blessed be G-D. Blessed be Hashem!