And So The Journey Continues
These are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Israel on the other side
the Jordan in the desert . . . (Devarim 1:1)
We have been reading from the Torah now for 3,317 years. The Torah closes
with Moshe Rabbeinu's death that was thousands of years ago, and therefore
only describes the events until that time. However, it also addresses
every generation not only as a history of past events, but as instructions
about how to deal with the present as well in a Torah-manner. Therefore,
there is something about the present that will always remain rooted in the
This is what Shlomo HaMelech meant when he said, "There is nothing new
under the sun" (Koheles 1:9). The events change and the people are new,
but essentially modern day history is just a revised version of the past.
Therefore, when Moshe Rabbeinu addressed the nation in his time, he
addressed Jews throughout history as well, maybe seeing them in his mind's
eye at the same time.
Things really changed since Moshe's death. As the Torah predicted, after
Moshe died the people went after the ways of the Canaanites. As a result,
the conquering of Canaan did not result in the completion for the Jewish
people that it was meant to bring about. After a short period of time,
Canaanite influences infiltrated into the Jewish people's lives, making
exile inevitable just 850 years after entering the land: the Ten Tribes to
Assyria, and Yehudah, Binyomin, and Levi to Babylonian.
The Ten Tribes were quickly lost and haven't returned until this very day.
The remainder of the Jewish people assimilated into Persian culture as we
learn through the Purim story. However, even after the miraculous victory
over Achashveros and Haman, a resurgence of Torah amongst those who
returned to Eretz Yisroel under the leadership of Ezra the Sofer, and the
building of the Second Temple, many Jews remained in the Diaspora and
assimilation once again began to take its toll, not to mention more
Then the Greeks came and added a whole new dimension to the concept of
Jewish assimilation. The enemy was no longer only the foreign conquering
nation, but the vanquished as well: Misyavnim - the Hellenists. Enamored
by Greek culture that emphasized perfection of the physical, the spiritual
stragglers were once again overtaken by the likes of Amalek,
intellectually-speaking, and they turned on those who refused to yield to
A miraculous victory returned the Temple to its rightful occupants, and
later, the return of the land as well. But all of that was only temporary,
especially when a Jewish civil war resulted in a Roman intrusion into
Jewish affairs, the inevitable result being the destruction of the Temple
and the Jewish way of life. And, if Jews had already been spread out in
the Diaspora before that time, they were pushed even further from Eretz
Yisroel under the Roman occupation until almost no one remained in the
land. That's the way it stayed for about 2,000 years.
In the meantime, Christianity took the Roman Empire by storm. Ironically,
whereas the Jews were previously hated and persecuted for their refusal to
accept the hedonistic ways of the ancient conquering cultures, they became
hated now for refusing to take upon themselves the religious culture of
Christianity. However, as always, many Jews did not survive the test and
had chosen to join rather than to fight.
However, in Asia it was Islam that stole the show, and they did to the
Jews there what the Catholics had done and were still doing to the Jews of
Europe, though sometimes each side could be a little more tolerant of the
Jews than the other side. However, when Islam and Christianity went to war
against each other, it was often the Jewish people who were caught in the
middle and who suffered tremendously as a result.
Even after the Dark Ages gave way to the Age of Enlightenment, and Jews
were granted additional privileges, equality never became a reality, anti-
Semitism never died away, and the worst perpetrator of evil against G-d's
people was still to come so close to the end of history.
. . . Eleven days from Chorev on the way of Mt. Seir until Kadesh
Talk about being so close and yet so far away. And not only that, but as
Rashi explains, the Jewish people miraculously traveled the eleven-day
journey in only three days just to expedite their arrival in Eretz Yisroel.
Then came the Spies, and with them came Tisha B'Av. It was on the ninth of
Av that the Spies came back and provided their evil report (Ta'anis 29a).
It was the crying they caused that led to the hundreds of millions of Jews
who have cried since then throughout the millennia, and therefore it is
appropriate to return to their story once again on Shabbos Chazon.
We had been at the border of Eretz Yisroel, poised to fulfill the posuk:
I am G-d, your G-d, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the
land of Canaan, to be G-d to you. (Vayikra 25:38)
However, because of a few statements to the contrary about Eretz Yisroel,
we brilliantly transformed an eleven-day journey that had become a three-
day journey into a forty-year journey around Mt. Seir and back again into
the Sinai desert. And, as if that wasn't enough, we kept wandering even
after we finally entered Eretz Yisroel under the brilliant leadership of
Yeshoshua bin Nun.
Thus, instead of being our final resting station, Eretz Yisroel became
just another stop along the way, before being pushed out of the land into
Assyria and Babylonia. And all because we rejected Eretz Yisroel. Allow me
to repeat myself: It has all been because we rejected Eretz Yisroel.
We hadn't rejected Torah, and we certainly hadn't rejected G-d, for that
would have been certain suicide. On the contrary, being as spiritually
dangerous a mission as spying out the land was at that time, Moshe
Rabbeinu chose the most kosher Jews he could for the job. They had to be
the most reliable people he could afford to send, leaders he had hoped he
could count on to not return and mislead the people.
Indeed, the only way they could have come back and presented their
negative report about Eretz Yisroel with G-d and Moshe looking on is if
they had believed that staying in the desert was the bigger
mitzvah. "After all," they probably told themselves, "conquering and
settling the land will consume so much time and energy! When will we have
time to learn as we have had in the desert?"
But the desert can never be Eretz Yisroel, and it is only in Eretz Yisroel
that G-d can be OUR G-d, so what difference does Torah and mitzvos make,
ultimately, if they have to first travel through the Klipos of other
lands? Indeed, says Tuv HaAretz, all the Torah-learning, mitzvah-
performance, and praying only ascends to Heaven through Eretz Yisroel,
after first passing through the "impure" angel of the host land, and all
those between it and Eretz Yisroel. That's why the Midrash says:
There is no wisdom like the wisdom of Eretz Yisroel. (Bereishis Rabbah 16)
Ten measures of wisdom fell to the world, nine of which fell on Eretz
Yisroel, and one on the rest of the world. (Kiddushin 49b)
Eretz Yisroel is higher than all other lands. (Kiddushin 69b)
Well, it is certainly a lot closer to Heaven, and being so, one had to
understand what a single hour of Torah learning, or a single mitzvah, or a
single prayer can do for tikun olam (world rectification), compared to
days of learning, many mitzvos, or lots of praying in Chutz L'Aretz. And,
as the Talmud says in countless places, when it comes to serving G-d,
quality is usually a higher priority than quantity.
Is it any wonder that Eretz Yisroel is the key issue affecting all Jews at
this late stage in history, or that Dovid HaMelech referred to the Final
Redemption in these terms:
You will arise and show Tzion mercy, for the time to favor her, for the
appointed time has come. For your servants have cherished her stones and
favor her dust. (Tehillim 102-14-15)
Thus, as we stand here in history close to the end, it is really close to
the end of the eleven-day journey that first became a forty-year journey,
and then a three-thousand-year journey. We are standing where the first
Jews to enter the land stood, except that this time, we are destined to
complete the journey, for the time of wandering has finally come to an
end. We have gone to the four corners of the world and we can only go home
G-d, your G-d will then end your captivity and have compassion upon
and will return and gather you from all the nations to which G-d sent and
scattered you. Even those at the far corners of the earth, G-d, your G-d,
will gather and take you. G-d will bring you into the land which your
fathers possessed, and you will possess it. He will do good for you, and
multiply you beyond previous generations. (Devarim 30:3-5)
By now many Jews are familiar with Nefesh B'Nefesh, the organization
devoted to facilitating to Kibbutz Golios in our time from North America.
Aside from providing a free one-way flight for families making aliyah,
they offer stipends to give those families a little financial help to get
But why not let them tell us about their organization instead:
Over the last five decades, Israel has experienced waves of immigration
from around the globe and has acted as a haven and homeland for Jews the
world over. There are, however, areas of the world where the Jewish
population is disproportionate to the number of those who emigrate to
Israel. With millions of Jews living in North America, over the last
twenty years, an average of only 1300 North American Jews have made Aliyah
annually. While many believe that this low number reflects a waning
passion for Zionism and lack of fundamental support for Israel, we believe
that there are actually hundreds and thousands of Jews yearning, dreaming,
and willing to make Aliyah, but needing assistance in making that dream a
reality. By revitalizing North American Aliyah, we will continue to send
an unmistakable message to our Israeli brethren, that even in these
turbulent times, Israel has not been abandoned. We will additionally
emphasize to the world that Israel is not just a haven for those fleeing
religious oppression and economic distress, but rather that Israel is a
primary choice for those who have professional stability and social
comfort. A revitalized and steady wave of North American Aliyah will
create a much needed and perpetual human bond between North America and
Israel. Nefesh B'Nefesh was founded to achieve these objectives. The
mission of Nefesh B'Nefesh is to revitalize North American Aliyah and to
expand it for generations to come by removing the financial, professional,
and logistical obstacles that are preventing many "would-be" Olim from
fulfilling their dream. In the process, we hope to send an unmistakable
signal of North American-Israeli Jewish solidarity and joint determination
to strengthen the State of Israel. (http://www.nbn.org.il )
I'm not sure at this moment who chose this name or why it was chosen down
here on earth, but maybe the following is why they chose this name up
there in Heaven:
A person who ascends from Chutz L'Aretz to Eretz Yisroel with the
intention to return experiences the following spiritual change: upon
reaching the outer side of "The Ladder" he is divested of all his klipos.
He only enters with his Nefesh of Asiyah and cannot receive a Nefesh from
Yetzirah. This is why he must observe all the holidays as they are kept
abroad. Rav Chaim Vital wrote that he who is born in Eretz Yisroel has
his NR"N (Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshamah) from [the angel] Metatron. Yet
when they leave Eretz Yisroel they are enclothed by a garment of [the
angel] Sandalfon. The [spiritual] shell that surrounds him is like that of
an almond, the green soft layer representing Rahav and the inner harder
shell symbolizing Sama'el. The wood-like substance inside the shell
represents the shell of the Temuros. The thin shell, the bran that is
attached to the food, is pure; it is from Sandalfon. This is the garment
that he is enclothed with upon leaving for Chutz L'Aretz . . . Only the
thin bran is not removed upon his return. He who is born outside of Eretz
Yisroel is given his NR"N from the realm of Sandalfon. If he subsequently
comes to live in Eretz Yisroel then he is given a NR"N from the aspect of
Metatron, though the NR"N from Sandalfon doesn't leave him and remains a
garment for his NR"N of Metatron. On the very evening of his arrival in
Eretz Yisroel as he lays down to sleep, they (the angels) remove the NR"N
that he brought with him and immerse it in the Dinor River. When they
return his Neshamah, he is given the new NR"N from Metatron that is
enclothed in the NR"N of Sandalfon . . . (Tuv HaAretz, p. 80)
So, making aliyah is really a case of a Nefesh for a Nefesh, and though it
may not appear in the physical package the organizers on earth give to the
new olim, it is certainly part of the spiritual package the Heavenly
organizers give to those who make aliyah.
"Cursed is he who does not confirm all the words of this law, to do
All the people must answer, "Amen." (Devarim 27:26)
Speaking of Eretz Yisroel, valuing the land and curses, it's in the news
'Pulsa denura' invoked against Sharon
July 26, 2005 Yaakov Katz
Posted on 07/26/2005 9:33:31 AM PDT by Alouette
Far-right activists instigated a pulsa denura (Aramaic for 'lashes of
fire'), death curse against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last Thursday
night in an effort to thwart the upcoming disengagement plan. The ceremony
was held late Thursday night at the gravesite of Shlomo Ben-Yosef, a Betar
member who was hanged by the British in 1938 for firing on an Arab bus in
protest of numerous attacks by Arabs on Jewish targets. Twenty married
men, including rabbis and kabalists, participated in the ceremony. All 20,
including Yosef Dayan, who instigated the same curse several months prior
to the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, assembled at
the gravesite, which is located near Safed.
Each man immersed himself in the mikve (ritual bath) before donning black
garb and beginning to chant. They had received permission to invoke the
pulsa denura from a host of rabbis and kabalists, who said it was the
appropriate time to resort to using the curse. Far-right activist Michael
Ben-Horin explained that the point of the curse was to exempt a human from
having to kill Ariel Sharon, allowing "the angels of destructions" to do
it instead. Baruch Ben Yosef, a far-right activist who participated in the
ceremony, told The Jerusalem Post that "The ten men prayed to G-d for him
to rid us of the evil murderous dictator [Sharon]. Ben Yosef said that the
gravesite was chosen because, "Shlomo was the antithesis of a
Sharon." "Ben Yosef gave his life for the Jewish people and refused to
recognize the British government, while Sharon does everything for
himself," Ben Yosef declared.
As to the legitimacy of such an act, I am unqualified to comment. However,
many others have and have posted said comments on the Net. I just thought
it might be interesting to see the source of the term itself.
It says in the Talmud:
Eliyahu used to frequent Rebi's yeshivah. One day, it was Rosh Chodesh, he
was waiting for him but he failed to come. He said to him [the next
day], "Why were you delayed?"
He replied: "[I had to wait] until I awoke Avraham, washed his hands, and
he prayed and I put him to rest again; likewise to Yitzchak and
Ya'akov." "But why not awake them together?"
"I feared that they would be strong in prayer and bring Moshiach before
"Is there someone like them in this world?" he asked.
"There is Rav Chiya and his sons," he answered.
As a result, Rebi proclaimed a fast and Rav Chiya and his sons were asked
to descend [to lead the prayers]. As he [Rav Chiya] cried out, "He causes
the wind to blow," a wind blew; he then said, "He causes the rain to
descend," after which rain descended. When he was about to say, "He
revives the dead," the world trembled; in Heaven it was asked,
"Who revealed our secret to the world?"
"Eliyahu," they answered.
Eliyahu was therefore brought and hit with sixty pulsei d'nura (flaming
lashes) . . . (Bava Metzia 85b)
As to the history of the type of Pulsa d'Nora referred to by the Jerusalem
Post and the actual text used, you can get that on the Net through Google.
However, to get to the time in history when evil will disappear altogether
and no one will contest our right to every last square inch of Biblical
Eretz Yisroel, you can only get that by appealing to G-d to bring the
Final Redemption, and as peacefully as possible.
May we be the generation to see Tisha B'Av transformed from a day of
mourning into one of simchah for the Jewish people.
Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and Torah.org.