Yearning for the Leadership of Yehoshua and Calev


by Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, Rosh Yeshiva


            Every year, when the Torah portion cycle reaches Parshat Shlach,

I am horrified yet again and engulfed by a dreadful feeling. This Parsha,

which tells the story of the Twelve Spies sent out by Moshe Rabeinu to scout

the Land of Israel and present him with their impressions, relates two basic

points which touch our every day lives in Israel today.


             The Mishna at the end of Tractate Ta'anit says that the first

tragic event that occurred on the 9th of Av, was the sin of the spies. When

10 of the spies returned with negative and pessimistic reports, the Torah

says: "The people cried that night" (Bamidbar 14:1). Their conclusion was

that it is impossible to go on to Eretz Yisrael because of the dangers and

the difficulties, and therefore they asked to return to Eygpt. Our sages in

TractateTa'anit, tell us that upon hearing the cries of the Jewish people,

Hashem declared: "You cried when you had no reason to cry, so I will give

you a reason to cry throughout the generations"


            Our sages explain that this was the night of the 9th of Av. All

tragedies that befell the Jewish people on the 9th of Av were a result of

the sin of the spies, namely a breach of faith in the guidance of the

Almighty.  To this day, I feel that the weakness among some of our leaders,

stems from that same lack of faith, courage and determination to settle the

land of Israel.


            Nowhere in the Torah can there be found such fierce and

outspoken words by G-d in response to the Children of Israel's refusal to

enter the land of Israel. When ten of the spies came back and declared that

the inhabitants of the land are stronger than Him, G-d's response was: "How

much longer will this nation continue to provoke me and not believe in me,

despite all the miracles I have performed for them?" (Bamidbar 14:11)


            What makes me fearful, is the thought that G-d might say the

same thing to us today. "After all I've done for the Jewish people, you

still don't have faith in being guided by divine power to settle and build

the land of Israel." After 2000 years of exile, suppression, pogroms,

massacres, and holocaust, the Jewish people were delivered by the Almighty

into the Promised Land and seeds were sown for a revived, proud and

productive Jewish nation. A devastated and discouraged people who had

witnessed unimaginable atrocities, turned Israel into a thriving and

industrious state, a barren land into a Garden of Eden.


            After helping us establish Jewish independence 55 years ago,

bringing us back to the liberated hills of Judea and Samaria 36 years ago,

after we had the merit to participate and witness the renewal of Jewish

life, in ancient towns like Hebron, Shilo, Beit El and Jerusalem ...after

all this, how dare Jewish leaders come and repeat the unfaithful words of

the spies - "our enemies are stronger than us". How can our leaders say we

won't be able to overcome the pain and difficulties of Arab terror inflicted

upon us in addition to the powerful pressure applied by other nations.

Therefore let us yield and compromise on our homeland. I shudder at the

thought that G-d forbid, we could receive the same response that the

generation of the spies heard from G-d. "If you don't want Eretz Yisrael and

you don't appreciate the eternal strength and divine inspiration of the

land, I can restore the pre '67 boundaries which left 8 kilometers between

the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern border".


            If we don't deserve Eretz Yisrael, the Almighty can delay the

inheritance for the next generation whose leadership will have complete

faith in G-d, who imbues us with the strength and courage to insure Jewish

life in all of Eretz Yisrael.


            But then I hear an inner voice calling to me from the depths of

my Jewish soul, "Enough trembling, do not fear, our faith has been tested

and is stronger than ever". There is consolation and hope. We must always

remember that in merit of two of the spies, two great Jews of faith,

Yehoshua and Calev, the G-d of Israel finally brought the Jews into Eretz

Yisrael. In contrast to the majority of the spies, they declared that "if

G-d is pleased with us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a

land truly flowing with milk and honey" (Bamidbar 14:8). Our generation has

hundreds of thousands of Yehoshua and Calev, Jews of complete faith,

determination and devotion, who have risen up to the task and mitzva of

settling the land and turning barren hills into thriving Jewish communities.

Living proof that the land is indeed flowing with milk and honey. Certainly

G-d will reward our faith by insuring the continuous growth and development

of Jewish life in all of Eretz Yisrael.


            I have a very serious and ominous message for our Prime

Minister, Mr. Sharon. Jewish leaders are entrusted with the fate of the

Jewish people and are therefore blessed with divine guidance and inspiration

to lead our people in the path chosen to continue the process of redemption

in the land of Israel.  Mr. Prime Minister, this is the only roadmap that

can succeed in securing our lives and bringing our people to their

destination. Truly, this is quite a heavy burden, but an authentic Jewish

leader cannot shirk his unique national responsibility despite the

pressures, difficulties and pain wrought upon us. Mr. Sharon, it is not only

your leadership that is being put on the line, it is the life and destiny of

the Jewish People. This process of redemption is divinely guided. The

question is, who will have the merit, courage, and visionary foresight to

lead our people on this road.


             I pray, dear Prime Minister, that you too, will draw your

inspiration and guidance from those two great Jewish leaders, Yehoshua and

Calev, who succeeded in their mission of  bringing the Jewish nation into

Eretz Yisrael. Their legacy calls upon you not to weaken the position of our

communities in Yitzhar, Beit El, Elon Moreh, in the hills of Judea and

Samaria, G-d forbid. The success of your leadership can only be proven by

continuing to strengthen and develop the Jewish communities in the hills of

Yesha and thereby deepen our roots in our homeland.


            These words of concern, hope and prayer are being written in the

town of Kiryat Arba - Hebron, inspired by the faith of our father Abraham

and his great grandson, Calev ben Yefuneh, who inherited the city of the

Patriarchs in merit of this faith. We can still hear the words of Calev

reverberating in the hills of Hebron, calling to us: "We can indeed go up

and take possesion of the land for we are truly able to do so" (Bamidbar


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