Vort from the Rav: Shelach

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Bamidbar 13:30

עָלֹה נַעֲלֶה וְיָרַשְׁנוּ אֹתָהּ כִּי יָכוֹל נוּכַל לָהּ

We can surely go up and take possession of it, for we can indeed overcome it.

Chazal say that three grants have been bestowed upon Israel: Torah, the Land of Israel and the world to come; but the Jew had to acquire them through effort, through suffering (Berachos 5a).  God rewards a person in accordance with his effort. A person appreciates something in proportion to the level of hardship he had to undergo to achieve it. To create the eternal bond between spiritual values and the Jew, he had to work for it, to experience pain.

Holiness has one source: sacrifice. Holiness and sacrifice, both literally and figuratively, are fundamentally the same concept. Holiness can only be created through self-sacrifice, pain, effort, and exertion. If a person does not anticipate and struggle, holiness cannot come into being.

That the existence of the State of Israel is a miracle is beyond doubt. At the same time, it is a miracle that came at great cost. At Israel’s very inception, on the first night of the State of Israel’s existence, bombs were dropped on Tel Aviv. Subsequently, in the years since it has come into being, the relationship of world Jewry to the State of Israel has been like the relationship of a mother to her only child: saturated with trembling, fear, and insecurity. Insecurity, because one is never sure if a passenger bus will be attacked. One is never certain if a small fishing vessel in the Gulf of Aqaba will not be fired upon. A mother whose son is stationed only a few miles from her home is never sure if he will not become the next victim of Arab snipers.

Why is the suffering that has accompanied the entire history of the State of Israel necessary? Because the State of Israel involves holiness, and holiness only exists if man, through sacrifice, becomes a partner with God.

The paradigm of this partnership is the mitzvah of circumcision, to which the prophet refers: through your blood shall you live (Ez.16:6). The blood and the suffering allow us to merit the continued existence of Medinas Yisrael. We experience this uncertain period in our history because our very insecurity is a sign that Hashem indeed desires the State of Israel. If He did not, the birth and the subsequent building of the State would have proceeded smoothly.

Jewish history is on a zig-zag trajectory. Abraham was repeatedly promised a child by God, and yet had to wait many long years for Isaac’s birth, ultimately to be commanded to sacrifice him. Moses had to wait atop a cold mountain for forty days until God finally revealed Himself with the message of Israel’s forgiveness. The suffering, the worry, the uncertainty, is precisely what God desires of us. (Derashot Harav, pp. 172-177)

From the newly released Chumash Mesoras HaRav – Sefer Bamidbar

About Arnold Lustiger

Dr. Arnold Lustiger is a research scientist and has edited multiple volumes of the Rav's Torah, including the recently published Chumash Mesoras HaRav.

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