Thursday, August 03, 2017

After the Ninth of Av

By HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivat Beit El

Dedicated to the memory of Hana Bat Haim

Each Tisha B'Av, Jews come en masse to the remnant of our Holy Temple, the Western Wall. The congregants cry, read the Book of Eicha, and recite heartfelt lamentations over the Temple's destruction.

Much bereavement and pain are expressed over the Temple's ruin, and this pain is mixed with a deep yearning and a sincere desire to witness the speedy rebuilding of the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah - a unique house the purpose of which is to allow the dwelling of the Divine Presence among the nation of Israel.

The great obstacles which stand in our way do not weaken our faith and conviction that this goal will be fulfilled, and we hope that this will happen soon. In fact, we pray for this a number of times each day: "May it be Your will God our Lord and the Lord of our fathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days."

Five things happened to our ancestors on the Ninth of Av. One of them was that it was decreed by God that the generation that left Egypt would not have the privilege of entering the land of Israel because of the Sin of the Spies. The spies sinned by making derogatory remarks about the land of Israel, referring to it as "a land that consumes its inhabitants." Thus, the Sin of the Spies can be rectified by our noting the desirable qualities of the land of Israel and making a point of praising it.

If a person complains that it is difficult to live in the land of Israel because of the security situation, the extended compulsory military service and reserve duty, or the terrorism, he is guilty of having committing the Sin of the Spies.

A person who claims it is impossible to live in Israel because of the high taxes, income tax, value added tax, bureaucracy, or unemployment, is guilty of the Sin of the Spies.

Don't try to justify such talk by explaining that, after all, such criticism is accurate: it is indeed easier to live in France, America, or Canada. The spies also reported the true and accurate facts, and in this they sinned: they told unpleasant facts about the land of Israel. Regarding the land of Israel one must say only good things. But it is not enough to say good things - one must see the good in Israel, like Joshua and Caleb, who saw the good in Israel and said: "The land is extremely good."

Joshua and Caleb, of course, saw the same thing that the other spies saw, but their love of the land and their complete faith in God caused them to see the positive aspects of Israel.

If all of us see the positive qualities of the land of Israel, the land of our forefathers, its divine, spiritual value; if we feel happy to live in Israel as it is, happy to be living among the people of Israel with no foreign power ruling over us and our land; if we accept lovingly the obligations that come with living in Israel and understand that they are not obligations but privileges; if we understand that serving in the IDF is not an obligation but a privilege - it is a privilege to protect the nation and the land; if we understand that the yoke of taxes is not a yoke but a privilege, that it is a privilege to participate in the efforts to strengthen immigration, absorption and development of the land of Israel; if we embrace such an approach we will be able to rectify the Sin of the Spies which delayed the entrance of our forefathers and ourselves into the land of Israel.

We must rectify whatever possible, but we must see the entire situation favorably, in a positive light. Such an outlook leads to a happy life in Israel - a creative, meaningful, joyful existence.

This sort of approach and these sorts of feelings will, in addition, serve to attract our Jewish brothers in the Diaspora to Israel. They too will want to experience the joy of living in the land of Israel. By creating such an environment "Aliya" (Jewish immigration) will be strengthened and "Yerida" (emigration from Israel) will be lessened.

Such an outlook does not constitute a disregard for the problems; rather, it constitutes a rising up to see the essence, the positive, and the good - for, indeed, "the land is exceedingly good."

No comments: