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Letters/Discussion Forums

Religious leaders ignore ‘message’ for Jews to return ‘home’

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Choni Davidowitz

It is clear that our lay leaders are doing their utmost to combat this poison of anti-Zionist/Semitic sentiment and other such actions prevalent in our society. What is equally apparent, however, is that our religious leaders are sitting back and doing nothing. They are ignoring the obvious “message” that Hashem wishes for His children to return home.

Meanwhile they are urging our youth to increase their Judaism and Torah learning, while continuing to live in exile. This, in spite of the Land of Israel being open to all Jews for the first time in 2 000 years.

The question is: Why are our Torah leaders ignoring the Divine call for the ingathering of Jews from the four corners of the earth? I submit that the answer to this question can be found in last week’s Parsha Shelach. Our sages tell us that the day the sin of the spies took place on the 9th of Av when the 12 spies, who were the princes of the tribes, the most righteous of men, returned to the Jewish encampment with their message of woe, and reported there was no chance in the world for the Jewish people to liberate Eretz Yisrael.

The date was the original (Jewish) 9/11- the 9th day of Av- the 11th month of the Jewish calendar, when counting from Tishrei, the 1st month of the New Year.

An entire volume can be written on the identification of the sin of the spies and its underlying causes. What is undeniable is that the spies did not want to come on aliyah and managed to commit the biggest sin in the Torah for which G-d wiped out the entire generation.

They convinced 600 000 men to remain in the desert and forego G-d’s promise of Eretz Yisrael. They despised the desirable land, and did not believe His word. The spies did not love the Land of Israel in the way they were supposed to.

They were more concerned with their own honour, knowing that in Eretz Yisrael the nation would need a new type of leadership and that they would be out of their “jobs”. (Commentary of the Vilna Gaon, and Rabbi Chaim Luzzatto)

Today we have so many great and learned Torah leaders who, like the spies, are guilty of the sin of “rejecting the desirable land”. They use lame excuses and flimsy proofs to refute the words of the holy sages in the Talmud who said that the mitzvah of living in the Land of Israel was equal to all the mitzvot in the Torah.

Are our present Torah leaders more righteous than the spies who could not overcome their evil inclination?

 

Golden Acres, Johannesburg

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