The sin of the Spies was in rejecting the Land of Israel, speaking derogatively about it, and not coming on aliyah. Thus to rectify their sin, we must love the Land, speak its praises, and come on aliyah.
Today, more and more people are studying the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. After reading some of his reflections on the Land of Israel, you won’t be surprised that all of the leading Breslov rabbis live in Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Nachman said that wherever he went, he was going to Eretz Yisrael, and he prayed every day to step foot in its holy borders. To help counter the poison of the Spies, here are a few things he taught to his followers:
To be a member of the Jewish People is to move always to higher and higher levels. To do this is impossible except through the sanctity of the Land of Israel. Every upward movement which we have to make towards holiness can only be accomplished through the Land of Israel. The same is true of prayer. The ascent of prayer comes only about in the Land of Israel.
It is impossible to come to the Land of Israel with difficulties and suffering. The root of all the difficulties and suffering lies in the slanderous image of the Land which is put forth by the wicked. They are the source of all the obstacles. But the power which we draw into ourselves enables us to overcome all the obstacles, the difficulties and suffering. The more profound a person’s grasp of the Torah and the greater the tikun he brings about through his attainment, the greater his victory over the obstacles, and he will succeed in reaching the Land of Israel.
When a person attains to the level of the Land of Israel, he is worthy of being called, “a man of strength and valor.” Before he attains this level, “Let him not who girds on his armor boast himself as he who puts it off” (Melachim 1:20:11). But when he has gone through the battle successfully, he is worthy of the name “man of war.”
When people give charity to causes in the Land of Israel, they become merged in the air of the Land of Israel, which is holy breath that has no taint of sin. Through this breath the forces of severity and darkness are banished from the world. This is also how it is possible to escape from the distracting, alien thoughts which come during prayer. The mind and the thoughts become clear and refined. This is a tikun habrit – a rectification for abuse of the sexual covenant.
The mitzvah of Succah is a segula (special charm) for coming to the Land of Israel.
Through the revelation of the sanctity of the Land of Israel we will witness the destruction of the wicked. Not only will we be delivered from their hand; we will see them suffer the very evil they sought to inflict upon us.
The motive for making the journey to the Land of Israel should be purely spiritual – to draw closer to G-d. A person who goes there with this as his aim will certainly benefit. Merely by stepping foot on the Land he will become merged with it and transformed by its sacred character. That is why even “one who walks four cubits in the Land of Israel will assuredly inherit the World to Come” (Ketubot 111A). On the other hand, if a person’s motive has nothing to do with devotion to G-d and cleansing himself of evil, then what help will the Land be to him? The Land will vomit him out “as it vomited out the nation that was before you” (Vayikra, 18:28).
Pray to G-d to give you desire and yearning for the Land of Israel. Then you will succeed in reaching there. And pray also that He should plant yearning for the Land in the hearts of all the Tzaddikim.
G-d repays man “measure for measure.” Nowhere is the repayment more exacting than in the Land of Israel. But this is really a great kindness. If we know that G-d repays us according to our deeds, then by thinking about the situations G-d sends us, we can gain an insight into our own behavior and learn how to improve.
The holiness of the Land of Israel is the epitome of holiness, encompassing all other levels of holiness. It is there that we can free ourselves completely of the materialistic viewpoint which claims that events take place naturally. We can come to know and believe that everything comes about only through the Hand of G-d. When man knows this, he resembles G-d’s power to divide light from the darkness. Genuine enlightenment and wisdom come only in the Land of Israel. But even Jews outside the Land have the power to draw enlightenment and wisdom from there. According to his share, so is the wisdom he draws from the Land. But those who insult the honor of the Almighty, G-d forbid, are cut off from the radiance of the Land of Israel, and they fall into the mentality of “outside the Land” which is one of conflict and divisiveness. This is the source of all of the conflicts and divisions which have become so rampant.
Readers interested seeing more of Rabbi Nachman’s teachings on Eretz Yisrael can click here.
May the love of Eretz Yisrael fill our hearts through study, prayer, and heeding the advices of the Tzaddikim, and may we all do our part in remedying the sin of the Spies by praising the Land and coming to dwell in its borders.
[Excerpted from the book “Likutei Etzot” (Advice), written by Rabbi Nachman’s student, Rabbi Natan. Translations by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum]