Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tisha B'Av~ The Day of the Evil Report

Today is Tisha B'Av~ a day of fasting, reflection and repentance~ when we mourn the destruction of the Temple. Many evil events happened on this day in the Jewish history~ but the root of them all was the day of the 10 spies~ the evil report from the spies on the Land of Milk and Honey. Following is an edited repost of an earlier blog. The 2 Spies find it appropriate to repeat this blog on this sad day.

The original account of the 12 spies is in Numbers 13 and 14. When the spies returned, the report they gave Moshe was:

"We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful....we can't attack those people, they are stronger than we." And they spread a bad report about the land they had explored.  They said, " The land we explored devours those living in it. The people we saw there are giants and we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes...."

Joshua and Calev's report:
"The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the L-rd is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them."

Giants in the Land. So big and overwhelming that they looked like grasshoppers in their own eyes. That is intimidation! To make these people forget all the encounters with the Creator, the miracles, the personal deliverance from slavery on their behalf. How mighty these giants must have been to make all these men of valor forget the Living G-d. Forget him so much so that they spread a bad report about the land. The same Land, the object of G-d's promise to Avraham, the place of their ancestry~ they had no fear in speaking against all of this. But their evil report was actually against G-d Himself. This was their great error. In speaking evil against G-d and his promises, they caused all of Israel to follow them. Had they have known what the consequences would be, would they have put their hands over their mouths and kept quiet. I wonder.

Two spies saw the same giants and agreed that they were there and that they were fierce. These two spies, however, had not taken their eyes off of G-d nor had his greatness dimmed in their hearts. They knew they could take the land. Because they were mighty? No. They did not trust in horse and chariots. They had seen those of Egypt thrown into the Sea. They trusted in G-d as the keeper of his covenant. The 10 who did not believe~ who rebelled, died in the desert. The two were rewarded. They believed G-d and they entered the land.

The same scenario presents itself to us today who make Aliyah or who are eligible to make Aliyah. There are giants in the Land. We can read about them in the news or experience the giants in our own lives ~ terrorism, political unbalance, religious persecution, poverty, culture shock, a sense of never belonging, loneliness, frustration over bureaucracy, feelings of inadequacy because of language, age or cultural background.

The inability to fully adjust to all the challenges of a new life, the danger of becoming depressed, the desire to do anything to make the pain go away, the draw to make an unreal world to live in. The ever pervading tiredness at mundane tasks taking so much energy.

The inability to get anything done in a government or business office in less than three visits. The soul-racking humiliation as people look past you, medical staff not understanding your problem, even children laughing because your Hebrew is less than adequate. The desire to stand on a soap-box somewhere and shout, 'I AM NOT AS STUPID AS I SOUND! I AM A COLLEGE GRADUATE!!'

The dark, cold, loneliness because life-long friends are left behind and at you may never really make that good of a friend again. In the Land of the Bible, the confusing, mind-boggling convoluted thinking that washes over you as you try to sort out your spiritual life and doctrine and keep it to the solid simple truths unmasked with religion and hypocrisy.

The inability to keep hate from your heart over people who put your children in a position they never should be in ~ a uniform, like a target~ when they should be in college and dating and having fun.The confusion when some of those people become your dear friends~ how to keep the friendship and not have politics tear you apart.

For every person who lives here, there is a different, and maybe similar, list of personal giants in Land. Some are all too real. Some are perceived. But all are giants none-the-less with the power to make us look like grasshoppers in our own eyes.

The 2 Spies have written about the Giants for two purposes.
First, to let the readers know that we are not looking at Israel through rose-colored glasses. We have our eyes wide open and we engage the giants ~ real and perceived~ on a daily basis. We know personally how engaging the battle can be~ for some of us, almost to the point of death. We are not naive nor unscathed.

We have studied the passages in Numbers often enough to understand what our determination must be. By choice, we choose to NOT be as the 10 spies and bring a bad report. Joshua and Calev agreed that there were giants in the Land. They chose to believe G-d and because of that they KNEW they could swallow the giants. The giants would be defeated, with G-d's help.

This is our second purpose in writing about the Giants. We choose to be like Joshua and Calev and believe G-d. We know through experience that there are giants here. Legions if you will. We also know that the L-rd gave us the Land for our inheritance. We choose to see Him in this place. We choose to give the good report that it is indeed and land flowing with milk and honey. It is a Land where the G-d of Avraham, Yitzak and Ya'cov chooses to dwell. And...if G-d be for us, who then shall be against us?

David Slaying the Giant

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