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Dvar Torah - Shelach

This week we read of an event that presages the great tragedies of Jewish history. The sin of the ten spies led the Children of Israel to reject the Land of Israel, which G-d had committed to giving them. As a result, Hashem punished them with thirty-eight years of wandering in the desert. Afterwards, the Jews insisted on reclaiming the Land, which was denied to them for the following generation. They attempted to fix their mistake by belatedly proclaiming their earnest desire to live in Israel and to enter it. However, as Moshe warned them, without Hashem's help and approval, they could not succeed, and many perished in the subsequent battle.

Afterwards, as the Jews began their wanderings, the Torah began to expound on what would become one of the most important and urgent topics in Jewish history: how to maintain a nation and a religion without the Land in which it was meant to be. The Torah's response to this challenge was that we can maintain the connection to the Land in other ways. Of course, ideally, all the Jewish people would live in Israel. However, in the meantime, our relationship to our Land, our G-d, and our Torah can be sustained without that physical proximity. We do so by discussing the Land and what we will do in it. The Torah immediately begins the arcane discussion of wine libations on the altar in Jerusalem with the phrase: "When you enter the Land...". The Torah assumes that we will eventually arrive there and communicates that we should never lose sight of that. However long an exile might be, ultimately, it comes to an end.

Today we can use the same basic tool. We can maintain our connection to the Land of Israel by talking about it, learning about life there, and imagining what it might be like when all the Jews finally return. Let's follow the news, read Israeli books, watch Israeli TV, and speak to our friends and relatives there. By doing so, we maintain our connection not just to them and the state but to our religion.

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