Leah’s Blog Parashat Shalach 2023
Leah’s blog – Shalach Lecha – June 2023
Under the super highways that now decorate central Israel there is a tiny vestige of what once was when the pioneers came to drain the swamps there, a sagging hut here, an old cow shed there. Doctors, engineers and what were professionals from their countries of origin came to weld, dig, and work in labors of all kinds in the sweltering heat, living in flimsy wooden shacks that boiled like ovens in summer and freezers in winter. Searching for water to drink, this is not what they imagined Israel to be. They did not train for the catastrophe of hard living; it was a tough row to hoe. In Zichrone Yaakov there is a museum that breathes life into the story of what went on here just a few generations ago, the hard plight of settling Eretz Yisrael. Leaving Europe first on a buggy, then on a steamship the first settlers wore beautiful tailored woolen coats and stylish boots to only later deal with the rats, pestilence, drought, hunger not to mention wars, sunbaked in thin cotton sweaty work clothes staring up at the sky asking “G-d! WHY?” I imagine when Abraham came it was much of the same. It was worse.
To the soul of this Land waves and waves of Aliyah settled it making it what it is today. Every person can bear witness to you how it was for them to feel like grasshoppers or be amazed at the astronomical size of the food bill for grapes plus everything, and so heavy a price we pay to do what we are commanded to do- to live in this Land. Shalach Lecha! Lech Lecha! Be willing to sacrifice your son Abraham! Be willing to have your own son join the IDF, not your neighbor’s son. Be willing to rough it, suck up to it, endure. Here clearly it is a personal test in doing the command- assessing your Divine purpose, and what better place than Hashem’s own home. Side by side Shalach Lecha and Lech Lecha analyze a story of pure obedience, or lack of it. The political elite of the generation of the desert is all about the weak hearted yet the power hungry. Weak and power go together in a weird paradox as leaders do shape the climate of the time we live in- in all generations. Who is to say the same souls of the leaders that were sent as spies are not the leaders and influencers of our nation today? Who is saying “We can go up and inherit her (the Land)!” Yehoshua and Caleb were but a minority- two out of twelve of those leaders- the ratio continues until this very moment. The spies rent their clothes and tried to persuade that Eretz Yisrael is not a threat to power, but the actual power that will pull us down, that will lead us to perish- the antithesis of Hashem’s will. Indeed the flip side of what these “leaders” said is the actual truth- Even when you eat dust for dinner, even when you feel abandoned even when you sweat cry and suffer- this is our destiny. Turn the wilderness into Gan Eden, the pinnacle of mitzvoth of the Torah. So, your shiny shoes and your ironed suit might get a bit scruffy here- suck up to it. This is not even about you and your ego. This is a story of NOT “What can it do for me” but “What can I do for it”. In this Land there stood a Temple, in it the windows were made so that the light shone out, not in. This is the kind of place that you think you are marrying Rachel but you get Leah. Rachel got that- she stands on the way waiting for her sons to return- and they do! You can’t superficially make sense or an accounting for why things appear as they do. This place comes to fix you in your willingness to give to it. This is the place that enables you to discover your inner strength, your inner joy, especially when you are humbled, especially when you are not even seen.
Narrow vision is something that has tested us from way back to the roots of who we are. The spies of Shalach lecha observed Eretz Yisrael as did the brothers of Yosef Hatzaddik wrongly disqualify him. He didn’t have a Yehoshua and Calev to be his advocate. Braving it alone Yosef Hatzaddik stood in conviction in living his dream as a lighthouse- even when ALL of his brothers put on blinders. Later, after the exodus, the entry into Eretz Yisrael had Yehoshua actually carrying Yosef into Shechem, putting him to rest in the exact place where the blessings and the curses were read by all of our nation. Justify your truth – be blessed, negate Hashem’s will- be cursed. All of the spies and their generation perished in the wilderness; they didn’t make it there.
Where are our leaders today! Why have the lovers of Israel’s heartland become a hostile enemy? (Maybe it is not politically correct?) How do we view the painstaking grip on Eretz Yisrael, yes- even today as it boasts super highways and supermarkets exploding KOL TUV- all the best. Elaborate improvements have been made to these foundations yet the heart of Israel is in disarray, an impending doom surrounds us; the enemy encroaches! Every house built here is with great difficulty, every field plowed has tremendous implication in defending the integrity of the heart of this Land. We keep on because we can inherit it as Joshua and Calev said. The people here are willing.
Friends, I am sharing a letter that we sent out in the slow mail. Please encourage your friends and family to donate to this most important cause. SHINE YOUR LIGHT OUT!
Shabbat shalom THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING! Leah
Recently our homeland was under attack once again. Hundreds of rockets were launched upon greater Israel causing havoc and terror upon thousands of Israelis. Terrorist groups have promised to attack Israel whether it be from Gaza, Lebanon, or Iran and its proxies that work from the very heart of Israel. Most recently a missile making factory was found in Samaria which threatened the safety of major cities just miles away.
I wanted to reach out and let you know that this letter is being sent out as the challenges here on Itamar continue. As we are trying to grow, there have been shootings on our major road leading in and out of the community. Terrorists have been vamping up concerted efforts to paralyze us. Emergency days are upon is. The people that live here know that the history of our people is replete with courageous acts and initiatives by idealists that have determination. We strive to be that. We are working on safeguarding measures as well as developing the heartland despite the hardships. By living our lives here, we are actually thwarting terrorism. We’re happy and excited and are thrilled that you are a part of it as well.
As you know, Itamar holds down a significant swath of land connecting the Jordan Valley to the center of the country. Itamar has an important security role in protecting our coastal cities by having command over the mountain range, but even more so we are preserving our ancient legacy, our historic and spiritual foundations by living here. That is why education is also so important to us as our schools grow and children from all over the country come to our institutions all the way from grade school through post army service. A new generation of leaders is rising up from here. It is in your merit that schools, parks, organic agricultural projects and so many endeavors have succeeded as we push through obstacles in restoring glory to this Land. When hard times like these come upon Israel, we are even more earnest in the meaningfulness of the mission that connects us based on idealism, pioneering spirit and a love for G-d, Israel and the Torah.
I’m reaching out to you now with our summer fundraiser and asking you if you would be able to contribute. I know how much Itamar means to you. Please help us prevent land encroachment as there has been a concerted effort in illegal building surrounding parts of our community. Itamar has been blessed with a lot of land and we must hold on to it. Part of our summer YOUTH PROJECT will include the development of such areas where our youth can help by planting trees and by setting up a recreational park area. Thanks to the pioneering efforts and deep dedication of this new generation we see a bright future for Judea and Samaria. Also, our HUB CENTER has been such a success — a place where one can work from here and not have to travel on dangerous roads. In order to absorb the new families that will move here we need to build five more office spaces. In addition, we are planning to launch a new internal CAMERA project which will enable us to have better surveillance and keep us safer.
This is your opportunity to really make a difference for us. Please share what you know about Friends of Itamar with your friends and family. Blessing you with a beautiful summer season — please come and visit!
Please make out your tax-deductible checks to the Friends of Itamar and mail them to:
Friends of Itamar Attn. Rabbi Moshe Goldsmith 962 East 28th Street Brooklyn NY 11210
For those interested in receiving receipts via email, which is our preference being quicker and more economical, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also donate via pay pal or Credit Card on our website:
www.touritamarsupportisrael.com or www.friendsofitamar.org
Find us on Facebook at Friends of Itamar
Thank you and blessings!
Rabbi Moshe Goldsmith President