Parshat Shelach by: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
A vacuum is space devoid of matter. Vacuums are commonly used to produce suction, the force that a partial vacuum exerts upon a solid, liquid, or a gas. Removing air from a space results in a lowered pressure, which can cause fluids to enter the space or produce adhesion. For example, when the pressure in one part of a system is reduced relative to another, the fluid in the higher pressure region will exert a force relative to the region of lowered pressure.
The book of Bamidbar, literally “The Book of the Desert,” seems to evoke the theme of the “vacuum” in spiritual terms. Therefore, it is not surprising that the prophets would go to the desert and meditate there, a practice mentioned in the Rambam and others as “hitbodedut,” for the material “void” there causes “spiritual suction,” allowing the reception of prophecy. Therefore, the “Bamidbar” – desert/void becomes the “Bamedaber,” i.e the “speaking of Hashem” to the “one in the void.” The word “hitbodedut” comes from the word “badad,” meaning seclusion. Rabbi Avraham, the son of the Rambam writes that physical seclusion of the prophets and those who follow in their footsteps in the practice of “hitbodedut” is meant to allow a person to reach a consciousness of “seclusion,” meaning that one directs one’s thoughts constantly towards the Divine, nullifying/”secluded from” all extraneous/external thoughts differing from the Divine motive. In the shadow of the Coronavirus, the term “seclusion” has taken greater meaning. May we learn from this period to meditate deeply on Hashem’s Will, concentrating on what is truly important in life, thereby pulling us closer to Him in this process of “spiritual suction.”
The book of Bamidbar is also the Book of the Journey from the void Desert to the Holy Land, the Land full of Divine Matter and Meaning. Therefore, taking the vacuum theme in this context it should follow that, ideally, there should be spiritual “suction” or force that should “propel” the spiritual meaning of the Holy Land into the consciousness of the people of Israel. However, the People of Israel in the sin of the spies in this Parsha did not internalize this message and instead cried and begged to return to Egypt. However, Kalev stood out, when coming to Hebron internalized the message of Hebron, which, according to our Sages, is a materially “rubble”/barren/”void” part of the Land of Israel, suitable for burial land. We may add to this that the letters of Hebron, aside from the common Hebrew suffix “on”, are het.bet.resh. In a different order, these letters spell the word “Horeb,” which means “barren/void land,” and which is also another name for Mount Sinai, the Mountain of Prophecy. Indeed, the book Shaar Hahatzer makes a clear connection between Hebron, the city synonymous with Torah according to the Zohar (p. Shlach), and Mount Sinai, saying that the numerical value of Sinai spelled out, i.e samech (120), yod (20), nun (106), yod (20), equals the numerical value of Hebron (=266). Also, we may say that the identification of Hebron as “burial land” also indicates the concept of the “void” in the context of the soul in Heaven and the body buried in the earth. Here too there is a “spiritual suction” connecting one to the afterlife, to the “Land of the Living,” i.e the World to Come (according to our Sages) and the Threshold of the Garden of Eden, through the burial ground of our saintly Patriarchs and Matriarchs and all the righteous buried here.
The “rubble simplicity” of Hebron is also an important lesson in connecting to the Land of Israel. Kalev’s connection to the Holy Land through Hebron teaches us that a proper understanding of our People’s connection to this Land lies with an internalization that even its simplest aspects, its “rubbles,” stones, earth, dust, etc. are holy land united with our People like a husband is united with his wife, a connection so profoundly exemplified in the form of “burial ground.” If, say, Kalev went to the Temple Mount, for example, we may have missed this lesson, thinking that the Land of Israel is only an aspect of the Temple, and perhaps only synagogues, “mini-Temples,” within it are especially holy. If, say, Kalev went to the highly agricultural areas of this Land, we may have missed this lesson, thinking that the sanctity of this Land is only due to its holy agricultural produce, part of which is uniquely given as Bikurim, Teruma, Maaser, etc. In contrast, Hebron teaches us that we are united with, and cannot part from, even the smallest piece of dust in our beloved Land.
In the present era, our People have experienced the Holocaust, which caused a terrible “void” amongst our People. Right after the Holocaust the great return to our Holy Land ensued (we are not suggesting here the “reason” for the Holocaust). Let us internalize these matters and internalize the meaning of our Holy Land, with the meaning of Hebron, thereby “moved and drawn” to the Holy Presence within it. “For Your servants desired its stones and favored its dust.” (Tehilim 102, 15)
Miracles from the Holy Land: Operation Opera, 1981:
On June 7, 1981, eight F-16 fighter planes and six F-15s took off on their way to Iraq to destroy the Osirak nuclear reactor in order to put a halt to the Iraqi nuclear program President Saddam Hussein used to openly threaten Israel. The mission was a huge success and proved to be truly miraculous ten years later during the Gulf War when Iraq attacked Israel with rockets – none of which were nuclear.