Thursday, June 03, 2021

we have a yerusha

 וַיִּסְעוּ֙ מֵהַ֣ר ה׳ דֶּ֖רֶךְ שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֑ים  Rashi comments in last week's parsha (10:33) מהלך שלשת ימים הילכו ביום אחד, שהיה הקב״ה חפץ להכניסן לארץ מיד that Bnei Yisrael were on the express train and covered three days distance in one because Hashem was trying to get them into Eretz Yisrael as quickly as possible.  Next chapter the wheels fall off the bus and everything starts to go wrong.    וַיְהִ֤י הָעָם֙ כְּמִתְאֹ֣נְנִ֔ים  Seforno comments: על טורח הדרך  And then we go from one complaint to the next, until we get to our parsha of the meraglim and then it's 40 years in the desert.  

Sefas Emes asks (last piece in 5648): Ha'yad Hashem tiktzar?  Here Hashem was rushing them along, He was kavyachol so anxious to have Bnei Yisrael finally achieve the dream of coming to Eretz Yisrael, so couldn't He make the trip a little more pleasant so there would be no complaints?  My wife and I once flew Aeroflot to go to Eretz Yisrael because the tickets were relatively inexpensive and it made the budget easier, but trust me, when you fly Aeroflot, וַיְהִ֤י הָעָם֙ כְּמִתְאֹ֣נְנִ֔ים you will have what to complain about.  Hashem doesn't have a budget! -- he can bring us first class all the way and even allow an extra bag too with no surcharge.  Ramban comments on וַיְהִ֤י הָעָם֙ כְּמִתְאֹ֣נְנִ֔ים that והנכון בעיני: כי כאשר נתרחקו מהר סיני שהיה קרוב ליישוב, ובאו בתוך המדבר הגדול והנורא במסע הראשון, היו מצטערים בעצמם לאמר: מה נעשה, ואיך נחיה במדבר הזה, ומה נאכל, ומה נשתה, ואיך נסבול העמל והענוי, ומתי נצא ממנו.  When you are flying first class there is no question of ומה נאכל, ומה נשתה, ואיך נסבול העמל והענוי.  True, Bnei Yisrael's complaining was unjustified, but Hashem could have pampered them so that there would not even have been a hava amina of an unjustified complaint.  Why didn't He do that?

This episode reinforces a basic yesod: "Ain Eretz Yisrael nikneis elah b'yissurim."  Chazal tell us that Eretz Yisrael is one of three things that can only be aquired with tribulations, the other things being Torah and olam ha'ba.  Hashem could speed up Bnei Yisrael's journey, but Hashem could not take away the yissurim completely, as without them, it is impossible to be koneh the Land.  

Some people like to hold a mortgage for 30 years and pay off a lot of interest slowly, and other people bite the bullet and take a 10 year payment plan, putting in a little more each month, but getting to the finish line quicker.  Hashem offered us a quick payment plan, all the yissurim wrapped up in one package for just a few days, and then Eretz Yisrael.  We turned it down, and as a result, we ended up on the 40 year payment plan.  

So we get to our parsha and the spies bring back their terrible report.  Kaleiv gets up and responds:   וַיֹּ֗אמֶר עָלֹ֤ה נַעֲלֶה֙ וְיָרַ֣שְׁנוּ אֹתָ֔הּ!  How does that address the concerns of the people or the details of the report?  He says that they can conquer the land, but 11 of his colleagues say that they can't, as they immediately respond וְהָ֨אֲנָשִׁ֜ים אֲשֶׁר־עָל֤וּ עִמּוֹ֙ אָֽמְר֔וּ לֹ֥א נוּכַ֖ל לַעֲל֣וֹת אֶל־הָעָ֑ם כִּֽי־חָזָ֥ק ה֖וּא מִמֶּֽנּוּ.  if it's a screaming match of one against eleven, then the eleven are going to win, so how was Kaleiv hoping to persuade anyone?

Two people finish business school and want to run a giant department store.  One is nervous, wondering how he is going to get the business off the ground, how he is going to compete with established competitors.  The other is cool and calm, his attitude is "We can do it!"  What's the difference between the two?  The difference is that the last name of the latter happens to be Macy, the great-great grandchild of R.H. Macy.  He doesn't need to start building from scratch -- his alter-alter zeyde already got things going.  He is just the latest in the line to take over.  Yes, there will be challenges, but those are the challenges of maintaining a legacy, not the challenges of a startup.

עָלֹ֤ה נַעֲלֶה֙ וְיָרַ֣שְׁנוּ אֹתָ֔הּ -- Eretz Yisrael is a YERUSHA, said Kaleiv.  We may be the start up nation when it comes to business, but as for the country itself, that is an inheritance.  It belongs to us because it belonged to our forefathers.  We are just the ones coming to collect what is due.    

I could not agree with this statement more:

I don’t know if I believe that another Holocaust is possible in America in 2021. But after what I’ve seen in the past few weeks, I do believe that at some point the Jews of the United States will no longer be welcome here. Even if our (very) fragile democracy manages to uphold its basic tenets of freedom for all citizens, it’s almost irrelevant; Americans no longer look to their government for what is true and right. They look to Facebook, to Instagram, to Bella Hadid and Jimmy Fallon. We are governed by public opinion, and the American opinion of Israel – and by turn, Jews – is darkening by the day.  

Fortunately, we have a yerusha.  

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