TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES; WHICH WILL IT BE?
Parsha Shelach: The Consequences of the Spies’ Choice
By Ariella Bracha Waldinger
Truth or Consequences was the first game show to air on broadcast television. It ran from the 1940’s until the 1970’s and was a very successful show. The contestant was asked a trivia question (an off the wall one) and had two seconds to answer. There were several parts to the question. If he could not complete the truth portion of the question, there would be an immediate consequence that was an embarrassing and zany stunt performed in front of the audience. Sometimes, I wanted like to be the master of ceremonies—the one asking the question. SO, I will pretend you are my audience and I will ask you a few questions. However, they are not trivia and you must answer truthfully.
Part A) Where is the location of the only place in the world that was given to a nation by G-d in which to live and do His commandments?
Part B) to which nation was the Divine inheritance given to?
Part C) what force could prevent a person from living in this place?
Part D) what happens if these people do not claim their inheritance?
Do you ever wonder what would happen if we could see the consequences of our choices in an immediate way and if, G-D FORBID, WE MADE A POOR CHOICE, to have to instantly face the consequences in front of an audience? Would it cause us to make different choices? What if that audience was G-d Himself? Some folks see life as a game and they view consequences as a non-existent reality. But the Torah tells us otherwise.
In the “Thirteen Articles of Faith,” which express the totality of the Jewish belief system, it states: “I believe with complete faith that the Creator rewards with good those who keep His commandments and punishes those who violate His commandments.” Also, in the prayer Le’Olam Ye’he Adam, it says, “a person should always be G-d fearing in private as he is in public, and should admit to the truth, and speak truth in his heart.” Strong words!
Most of you already know the answers to the question but let’s just play along for the sake of the game.
Answer for Part A) The location of the tract of Land given to the Jews is Israel.
Part B) The Divine inheritance was given to the Jewish nation
Part C) HERE IS THE TRUTH PORTION: What could keep a person from making Aliyah to claim his inheritance? Here are my answers: fear, ego, titles, comforts, money, stuff, cars, community, their Rav, or plain and simple, you are comfortable with your life and do not want to rock the boat.
Part D) what happens if you don’t claim your inheritance? If you don’t claim your inheritance, you will lose it and you can decide FOR YOURSELVES what that means to you.
Speaking of Truth AND Consequences, I have read the same complaints over and over again about making Aliyah. It definitely reminds me of the spies in this weeks’ Torah portion speaking negatively about the Land without understanding the big picture. They brought a negative report about the land due to its perceived fierce inhabitants. The report in actuality was about themselves and how they viewed themselves as grasshoppers and ants; small and inadequate. These men came out of Egypt and had been slaves. This mentality influenced their view of G-ds precious gift to his Nation. It seems they could not face the challenge of freedom. TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES? I wish they had seen the game show! They paid the ultimate price with their lives. They did not get to enjoy all the spoils they acquired in Egypt due to their poor choice which was a direct result of fear. I always cry when I read this Torah portion because in truth, I cannot bear to think of them missing out on life in Israel. I anguish over negative reports of our Land and our Nation because I live here and I constantly see the amazing care and the good deeds done with deep love. I see the kindness and generosity. But mostly, I feel anguish for the honor of G-ds name for His beloved Nation and Beloved Garden. I am pained by the current rash of misinformed and misguided people who are tarnishing the name of Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael and for what purpose?
The TRUTH is, truth is scary! Israel IS REAL…MUCH TOO REAL FOR SOME and I believe, it is really the scariest thing about Aliyah. It confronts you with yourself. Confrontation manifests on all levels and who likes confrontation? I sure don’t, but at the same time, I thrive on the aspect of personal growth and self-perfecting. Aliyah gives you the chance to shed the façade of superficiality and get real. Aliyah is hard because it also demands change, which is a foreign word to some and an ugly word to most. Aliyah brings out the emotions of fear and that’s not an emotion most can handle or admit. The fears are many and varied but I will name a few: Fear that A) I won’t have enough, B) I won’t be good enough to live in the holiest place in the world, C) I won’t be known i.e., be given honor, D) I won’t have power E) I will be starting over and won’t know my way around F) I won’t make enough money G) I might have to do without things or a really big house. Yes, I believe fear is the biggest factor to not making Aliyah…the spies proved it, but who will admit it? We tend to transfer our fears onto others: people or places and we project our own shortcomings on the other. This is the nature of life and I believe this is what is happening today.
Don’t get me wrong, these are real and valid fears but each can be overcome and replaced by many positive emotions, as you find your footing in the Land of your birthright. The Torah and Prophets predict that prior to the end times, we will make ourselves confused by our stubbornness. They also predict that we will make ourselves ignorant instead of learning from what was given us by Divine Revelation. Is that the case with you? Be clear, the Land of Israel is where IT’S HAPPENIN. It is THE HAPPENIN PLACE FOR JEWS, especially Torah observant Jews, and it is soooo exciting, besides I hate missing out on great events.
In a recent JPost article by Aharone Wexler, titled, “Just a Thought: “On The Lack of Aliyah. The article was lovely, truthful and inspiring but I found the talk backs to be extremely offensive to the core values of our nation and our Jewish homeland. I believe many Jews are misinformed, misguided and lacking basic knowledge of our history, past, and present especially relating to the Land of Israel. Their complaints uncover this fact. The complaints listed are: Israel is overly politicized; that’s because Jews have a voice in Israel and they are involved in politics at every level. This lies at the basic core value of the Jews in the Land and it’s a positive aspect not a negative one. Next complaint: there is an unsavory government. I use the word unsavory for food not government. This statement is humorous, because our government, as unsavory as it may appear to some, is heads above other governments of the world in their core values. Next complaint: There are too many struggles: In comparison to what and where? The struggles exist because The Land of Israel is one of the three things acquired through struggles. It comes with the turf. Next complaint: It’s too Hareidi, too Secular, too Religious. I agree and it’s all these things and more because people here are fighters and they are passionate about what they believe. I wouldn’t have it any other way. You can become whatever you want here because there is a smorgasbord to choose from. I love it. Next complaint: You become a debt slave. Wow, now that’s a new one, especially coming from a guy from America, which is the credit card debt capital of the world. The truth is most people have debts, some through living above their means and others through unexpected situations. But there is no hard and fast fact that Israeli’s have become a slave to debt. I would call that a slave mentality. Next statement: Jews have been wanderers for centuries and they have lived well in other countries. Wow, am I missing something here? Jews were expelled from merry old England in 1290, from Vienna in 1421, from Cologne inn 1424, Bavaria in 1442, Milan in 1598 and the most traumatic from Spain in 1492. A century ago the wave of pogroms in Eastern Europe sent millions of Jews into flight to the West and these migrations continue even today due to blatant anti-semitism.
Friends, lets learn from the Spies and let’s be honest so we don’t have to face the consequences. Israel has the ability to break the spirit of pride that resides within most of us. This humbles us, thus enabling us to truly receive the Torah on a deeper level. This causes an actualization of a wider Divine service than mankind performs in the world at large. Thus, we have the opportunity to redefine ourselves in a broader consciousness and that allows for an ascent of the soul. DO you understand what I am saying? This is part of the reason G-d gave this Land to us… for us to perform His mitzvot in the Holy Land to gain merit and to impact the world in a positive way. The truth is if we follow the leanings of our Divine soul and follow the instructions of our Creator, we become happy, committed, spiritual beings, grounded in reality.
The Land of Israel is center stage for the life of a Jew. The Land of Israel, the Torah and the Jewish people are one entity bound together. Forego the complaints and excuses and return to the Land of your soul and nation. This is the Truth! Honor the Truth and the Consequences will be uplifting, as you walk the Divine pathways our Forefathers walked. Let us rectify once and for all the Sin of The Spies and speak with Pride of our Nation in our Holy Land.
With Blessings of Love and Light, Ariella Bracha