On our way to the Jordan Valley one afternoon, we headed off east from the mountains here. The sun was behind us; it was the tail end of Spring. There was still a drop of green, water painting the whitewashed desert sloping down into the lowland. We were on our way to a wedding and I had fever but persisted we go. I don’t know if it was the aspirin or the mild delirium of fever but the intensity of the landscape played tricks in my mind. Or maybe not. My heart throbbed, like the ache of a crush but I flushed at the panorama of something my field of vision caught. Every time I looked at it- the ecstasy of it, the mystery of it made me want to hold on to that feeling forever. The shape of those very dry but golden hills baking there in the sun resembled a sleeping giant. It was as if it would get up any minute from an afternoon nap. I was very close to it and it to me. We knew it.
The Land of Israel is not like any Land in the world. I can testify. I’ve lived in it for a great portion of my life. It is so alive that even the inanimate features look you in the face and tell you a story. And the living things….That old olive tree at the end of the bend there- the sea as it rushes up to meet you… the underground caves and the message also of the past- your past in this very place. (This picture is an example of how special Israel is it was circulated this week as the largest pumkin ever grown – from Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi)
Here in Israel there are typical things like bars and beaches. It can have a Shechem Ben Chamor. It can have dirty politics, and nastiness. But to turn a blind eye to the hidden reality of the Land of Israel is to sin the sin of the spies. They were sent to survey life in Israel on a practical level –but instead of seeing beauty and fertility in farming, in geography, in open miracles “They despised the desirable Land”(Psalms 106:24) They were distinguished famous personalities that were used to the rock that gave them water, the clouds of glory and the pillar of fire. In Israel they had to seek Hashem. That was too hard. Avoda in Israel means that what you see is not what you always get. It means you have to make a point of getting way down to kiss its earth, its rocks and its stones. It means there are giants in the Land and you are but a grasshopper.
My prayer for the coming times is that the distinguished famous Torah leaders that have not made it yet to see the Land begin to have Eretz Yisrael within their view, that special view that only comes to light from the comfort of Tzion! In the meantime, we are preparing it! Please let them allow us to share our testimony of life in it with their congregations! Let us together try and rectify the sin of the spies.
Shabbat Shalom! Leah