By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And You Shall See It
There is a common verb root used both in the beginning of this parsha, in regard to sending the spies to the Land of Israel, and at the end of this parsha, in regard to seeing the tzitzit: the verb root t.u.r, “to go after.” In both instances this term refers to taking an initial glimpse of things which may bring a more involved engagement with the matter involved. In the case of the “spying the Land of Israel,” the spies were meant to take an initial glimpse of the Land before the more involved full entrance of Israel into the Land. In regard to the tzitzit, by looking at the tzitzit one is reminded not to even take an initial “peek” at heretical/idolatrous or immodest/lustful material, as this may also bring a further involvement with these detrimental materials.
Before attempting to find a connection between the beginning of this parsha and its end through the verb root t.u.r., let us first examine the common theme in idolatrous and lustful material which are both specified by our Sages as being part of the prohibition on “going after the heart and eyes” mentioned in parshat tzitzit at the end of this parsha. We find that our Sages tie a parallelism between the first five commandments of the Ten Commandments and the second five commandments of the Ten Commandments. Therefore, the second commandment “not to have other gods” is parallel to the second commandment of the second group of five commandments, “do not commit adultery.” Another principle we see in the teachings of our Sages is that, although the Ten Commandments do not nullify the other 613 commandments God-forbid, they do act as general rules that “hint” to the other commandments. Therefore, it has been explained that all lustful thought/action is categorized under the commandment of “do not commit adultery.” Not only do we see the parallelism of lustfulness with idolatry in context of the Ten Commandments, but also in the Prophets we constantly see that when Israel served idolatry they were likened to an unfaithful wife towards Hashem, the “husband,” so-to-speak.
Also in regard to Israel’s connection to the Land of Israel we find a marital relationship, Israel as “husband” and the Land of Israel as “wife.” Here too we find the verb root, t.u.r, however in an opposite sense. Here, instead of the “initial glimpse” being used towards detrimental materials, it was meant to be used towards the positive, i.e connecting Israel to their “wife,” the Holy Land. Nevertheless, in another sense this “initial glimpse” in both contexts has a common theme: “externality.” In other words, just as there is the danger of getting caught in lust through the “initial external glimpse,” since from the “full” sin one is immediately deterred, so too there is a danger in relating towards the Land of Israel solely in an “external” way. Just as a man who bases his connection to his wife on “external” aspects can easily go astray and leave his wife, so too is the case with a Jew’s devotion to the Holy Land, the “wife” of Israel. Unfortunately, in the sin of the spies the Israelites were led astray, and they desired to abandon the Holy Land in favor of other lands. Our Sages teach that this sin, which occurred on Tisha Bav, was also the source of the dire events that occurred on subsequent Tisha Bav’s, showing that this matter must still be corrected to this very day. Nevertheless, the Torah also teaches us that with Hebron there is also the hope of correction, as we learn from Kalev who, by coming to Hebron, was inspired in its holy air to speak in praise of settling the Holy Land. This is Hebron, City of the Patriarchs to whom the Holy Land was promised and who cherished this Land with all their our hearts and souls; clinging to them, this city, and the Holy Presence therein undoubtedly bring us to a deep connection to this Land far from anything superficial.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #322
Once a wealthy Jew named R’ Yitzhak Damyo came to Hebron to pray upon the tombs of the Patriarchs. He told the Muslim guard that he would pay him 100 gold pieces in order to enter the Maarat Hamachpela. The guard agreed only on condition that half of the sum be given to him first and then the other half after his leave. However, after this guard let R’ Damyo inside the Maara he locked the gate and told the leading officer that he had just received money from a wealthy man to enter the Maara, and that if they could find some plot/scheme against him they may be able to take all his money. Meanwhile, R’ Damyo noticed that the gate had been locked behind him, and he therefore he began to cry and pray before Hashem that He save him, and that he entered not for his only pleasure, but rather to tell the praises of Hashem and His majesty. When he cried intensely, suddenly the gate opened, and immediately R’ Damyo ascended his horse and rode to Jerusalem. When the Arab officer went to the Maarat Hamachpela to look for the Jew he was told about by the guard he found no one. He called the guard and told him, “you are deserving of death, for if you let a Jew enter you disobeyed my orders, and if you did not let a Jew enter the money you have that you told me about is theft and the matter will be known.” Immediately, the officer commanded to put the guard to death, and the fifty gold pieces he kept for himself.
Sources: Sefer Hebron p. 315
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