For Rabbi Shmuel Jablon, this parshat describing how a negative report from the men sent to scout out the land of Israel kept the Jewish people wandering in the desert for 40 years, is a fitting backdrop to announce his plans to make aliyah this summer.
In Parshat Shelach we learn of one of the greatest tragedies of Jewish history. When Moshe our teacher sent 12 men to scout out the Land of Israel, 10 came back with a negative report. They told the Children of Israel that it was impossible to take possession of the land. Despite the best efforts of Yeshoshua and Calev, the two loyal scouts, the 10 spies’ evil report was believed. Hashem thus condemned us to wander in the desert for 40 years.
Not being permitted to enter the Promised Land was a dramatic punishment that affected all of Jewish history. We are taught that despite all challenges, we must long to enter the Land of Israel. And when we have the opportunity, we must seize it.
With this thought in mind, I am excited to share that, with Hashem’s help, my family and I will make aliyah this summer. It is time for us to go home to our homeland, and to try to do our part to continue to build the State of Israel that Hashem has given us.
We are not making aliyah because we think it will be easy, nor for a dream job — though I hope I will find one. We are not making aliyah because of anti-Semitism, oppression or poverty. The United States is a wonderful country.
So why will we make aliyah?
First and foremost, we will make aliyah because it is a mitzvah from Hashem. He gave us our land and He wants us to live in it. The Sages teach that living in the Land of Israel is equal to all other mitzvot. For 2,000 years we were exiled. In His great mercy, He brought us home and allowed us to be a free people in our own land. How can we not desire to go home?
We will make aliyah because Israel is both Jewish history and the Jewish future. You cannot walk anywhere in Israel without feeling the ties to our sacred past, or that we are in an amazing process of redemption. As Israel continues to be built, we see the prophetic promises being fulfilled. The Gemara teaches us that the flowering of the Land of Israel is the sign of redemption. We indeed see Israel flowering in every way. We want for our family to be part of the history and part of our unfolding redemption.
We will make aliyah because we want our family to have a normal Jewish life. That means a life where we are surrounded by our people, speaking our language, helping our army, observing our Shabbat and holidays in our land and being able to perform every mitzvah possible in this pre-Third Temple era. We want to be in a place where the Torah fully lives, and where our children will have unparalleled opportunities to learn and live the Torah.
We will make aliyah because we feel that it is the greatest gift we can give our children. We are fortunate that our children are excited and eager to accept this gift. And we hope that one day we will be blessed with Israeli grandchildren. Having the chain of our family continue in Israel would be the greatest gift of all.
I have no illusions that making aliyah — fulfillment of both a mitzvah and a lifelong dream — will be easy. There will be many challenges — some I know about and some I do not. I know that people far wiser, far more talented and far more idealistic than I have tried and not succeeded. But it is now time for us to try to reverse the sin of the spies. It is time to go home.
Rabbi Shmuel Jablon wishes to thank the Jewish Exponent for the opportunity to share Torah thoughts in this column. You can follow his aliyah blog at: rabbijablon.com.