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See the Good in Israel

Jews worldwide are now studying “Nedarim” in the Daf Yomi cycle. Although we are just at the beginning of this section of the Talmud, one thing is very clear so far: Be careful of what you say! When words come out of your mouth, you are responsible for what was said! This is true, not only when you insult a person, say something inappropriate or talk Lashon Hara. This is also true when you say a good thing; such as promising to do some positive act. The Talmud – in page after page – deals with things that were said and how to resolve the difficulties that arise after the words were uttered.

We had a similar lesson from last week’s parsha when the spies spoke poorly about Eretz Yisrael. The things they said were so harmful that we are still suffering today from their words. The first “Tisha B’av” was because of these individuals and countless of Jews have been killed because of their negative words. Everyone today talks about the BDS movement and how they bad-mouth Israel all over the world but actually, it was these 10 spies who started BDS. These were the Bad Damn Spies (BDS) who told people to boycott Israel! “Don’t move there”, they screamed. “All Jews back to Egypt”, they cried. Yes, these were the founders of BDS and they were very effective.

How do we combat this? How do we fight against the lies and the slander against our precious land? For that, I turn to a D’var Torah I saw in the name of the great Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook ztz”l. Please read this and engrave it on your heart. Simply put; it can change your life forever.

It was 1946 and the great Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha’cohen Kook had passed away 11 years earlier. His son, Rav Tzvi Yehuda, was seated at the head of the Shabbat table in Bet Ha’Rav (Rav Kook’s house in Jerusalem). One guest at the Shabbat table brought up a disturbing topic: the phenomenon of visitors touring Eretz Yisrael and then criticizing the country after returning to their homes. These visitors complained about everything: the heat, the poverty, the backwardness, the political situation – and discouraged other Jews from moving there. “What can we do to fight such terrible speech?” asked the guest.

Rav Tzvi Yehudah responded by telling over the following parable, one he had heard in the name of Rabbi Samuel Mohilever, the Rav of Bialystok.

There was once a wealthy man who sought the hand of a certain young lady. She was the most beautiful girl in town, and was blessed with many talents and a truly refined character. Her family was not well-off, so they were eager about a possible match with the prosperous fellow.

The young woman, however, was not interested in the match. Rich or not, the prospective suitor was known to be coarse and ill-mannered. She refused to meet with him. The father asked her to at least meet with the young man in their home, so as not to embarrass him. After all, one meeting doesn’t obligate you to marry him! To please her father, the young woman agreed.

The following Shabbat afternoon, the fellow arrived at the house as arranged, and was warmly received by the father. Shortly afterwards, his daughter made her entrance. But her hair was uncombed, and she wore a faded, crumpled dress and shabby house slippers. Appalled at her disheveled appearance, it did not take long before the young man excused himself and made a hurried exit.

“What everyone says about this girl – it’s not true”, exclaimed the astonished young man to his friends. “She’s hideous!”

Rav Tzvi Yehudah stopped briefly, surveying the guests seated around the table. Superficially, it would appear that the brash young fellow had rejected the young woman. But in fact, it was she who had rejected him.

“The same is true regarding the Land of Israel”, the Rabbi explained. “Eretz Yisrael is a special land, only ready to accept those who are receptive to its unique spiritual qualities. The Land does not reveal its inner beauty to all who visit. Not everyone is worthy to perceive its special holiness. It may appear as if the dissatisfied visitors are the ones who rejected the Land of Israel” he concluded, “But in fact, it is the Land that rejected them!”

This is the answer to how we fight the BDS of old and the BDS of new… be ready to accept Eretz Yisrael as the spiritual force it truly is! Understand how this land makes us complete and total Jews. Once you understand that concept – that without Eretz Yisrael – we are broken Yidden, then and only then will you always see the good of the Land and everything it contains.

In Tehillim (128:5) it says; “May Hashem bless you from Zion and may you gaze upon the goodness of Jerusalem, all the days of your life.” This is not just a nice verse in Tehillim. It is how we live our lives by always seeing “the goodness of Jerusalem”. May this be the way we speak about Hashem’s land from this moment on! Next Year in Jerusalem!


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