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DID WE LEARN?

Roy Neuberger - Jun. 28, 2019


It amazes me how events in each week’s Torah Portion constantly pinpoint our exact situation as we travel through history. Of course, that is our Torah. “Hashem n’chaini … Hashem, guide me in Your righteousness, because of my watchful enemies. Make Your way straight before me.” (Psalm 5:9) I remember, from my early years, blundering with no Guide and no path.

 

And now, am I better? Only when I remember that the only derech (path) is “derech Hashem.”

 

It is so easy to forget!

 

Where better do we see that than in this week’s Torah Portion? The miraglim (spies who went into the Land) are princes of Israel, “every one a leader… All distinguished men!” (Numbers 13:2-3), but their blunders cost us to this very day. That is why we must grip the Torah with all our strength, because the price we pay for mistakes, G-d forbid, is beyond calculation.

 

Last week, my wife and I drove back after a Shabbos away from home. It was about 1 a.m. Sunday at the approach to the Goethals Bridge. We were driving in the right lane, a barrier ahead on the right. Suddenly, a car crossed through a prohibited area and shot across in front of me at high speed, missing the barrier by inches and grazing the front of my car. If this had been a fraction of a second later, there could have been, G-d forbid, a terrible crash.

 

Our path in life is filled with danger. We have to appreciate that Hashem sends malachim (angels) to watch over us, but there are terrible dangers on every side and the margin of error is a hairs-breadth. It is so easy to blunder!

 

Not only did the miraglim blunder terribly, but it is frightening to see the plurality on the side of error, ten out of twelve! It is like Egypt, where at least eighty percent of the Children of Israel chose to disregard Moshe Rabbeinu. As Rashi tells us, they disappeared in the Plague of Darkness.

 

My friends, did we learn the lesson?

 

In our own times, when we returned in numbers to the Land of Israel, did we return with trembling and fear? Did we return with a promise to our Father in Heaven that we would never again stray from His Holy Torah?

 

“Guardian of Israel, protect the remnant of Israel! Let Israel not be destroyed, those who proclaim the Oneness of Your Name … We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You!” (Tachanun Prayer) The Children of Israel and the Land of Israel are surrounded by danger. There is only one hope: “I will prostrate myself toward Your Holy Sanctuary in awe of You.” This attitude represents a lifetime of work, but it is the only thing which will save us.

 

“All who take refuge in You will rejoice. They will sing joyously forever. You will shelter them [and] You will envelop [them] with favor like a shield.” (Psalm 5) May we learn the lesson and see complete fulfillment soon in our days! 

 

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