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Warning! Beware of Talkbackers with Magnifying Glasses!

By Tzvi Fishman
7/30/2010, 12:00 AM

There are confused and poisoned souls who think they are wise and understanding because they have studied some world history, political science, and adult-ed night courses in propoganda and modern warfare. With great self-admiration in their intellectual prowess, they can spout off what Che Guevara ate for breakfast, the socio-economic causes that led to the pygmy revolution in South West Africa, and the most effective poisons for darts.  If these people were gentiles, this sort of trivia might be considered impressive, but for a Jew it is just a lot of meaningless nurrishkeit.


For a Jew, true wisdom and understanding means living a life of Torah in Eretz Yisrael, as Moshe says: “Behold, I have taught you statutes and laws, as the L-rd my G-d commanded me, that you should live by them in the Land wither you go to possess. Keep them therefore, and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the nations, who shall hear all these statutes and say, surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (Devarim, 4:5-6).

Readers, please do not be fooled by these misguided Jews, who seek to cover up their rejection of Torah by spouting all kinds of pseudo wisdoms and meaningless chatter. These are the people who are always finding things wrong with life in the Land of Israel. They look at life in Israel through the distortion of high-powered magnifying glasses, but instead of seeing all of the good and wonderful things in the Land, and the L-rd’s great blessing here, they focus only on the bad. They project the malaise of their souls out onto the Land and its inhabitants, just like with the sin of the Spies, who also purported to be wise and understanding people.

Sure, once and a while, they will find something good to say, just like with the Spies who admitted that the fruit of the Land was superlative. But, all in all, their negative vibrations have a poisonous influence, discouraging others who are thinking of moving to Israel, but who are wavering in their decision. Often, the glib and pseudo-intellectual speeches of these false soothsayers attract followers who are uncertain in their own orientation to Israel and Torah. These misled souls jump on the bandwagon, thinking they have found authoritative support for their own lack of learning and fears. This is exactly what happened in the tragedy of the Spies who discouraged a whole generation from coming to Israel.

These self-acclaimed wise men will insist that they love the Land as much as anyone, and that it is only the evil things in the Land that they scorn, but this too is exactly the way of the Spies, who said that the Land was indeed a good land, but that there were dangerous and formidable giants there, and that the land devoured its inhabitants.

Often these negative mongers will scream out “Amalek” and “Erev Rav,” pointing accusing fingers at anyone who doesn’t meet their fancy, but it is they themselves who are using the strategies of Amalek to weaken others, as the Torah testifies: “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you had come out of Egypt; how he met you on the way and smote he hindmost of thee, all that were feeble in the rear, when you were faint and weary – and he feared not G-d” (Devarim, 25:17).

Rashi’s derives one of his explanations of “on the way” from the root word of “karcha,” which means “cooled off.” Amalek succeeded in cooling off the faith and confidence of the Jews, and cooling off the fear that the gentiles felt toward the seemingly invincible Israeli Nation. The constant criticizers of Israel do the same.

The truth is the very opposite of the picture they paint. How wonderful is the Land! How brave are its people! How inspiring is its noble history and future aspirations! How deep is its holiness! How vast are its mysteries! How breathtaking and awesome are its innovations and incessant rebuilding! How exciting are its challenges! How fortunate are we who are privileged to live here, a Land flowing with milk and honey, in the Land which G-d cares for and watches over from the beginning of the year to its end! {Parshat Ekev)

As it also says in this week’s Torah portion, for those who trouble themselves to read it: “For the L-rd your G-d brings you into a good Land… a Land where you shall not lack anything” (Devarim, 8:6-10).

To what are these sad cases like? To the compulsive obsessives who go to a restaurant and order a health salad piled with a wide assortment of fresh vegetables, bean sprouts, and nuts.   Then, to everyone’s astonishment, they study each leaf of lettuce and tomato under their pocket magnifying glasses. Finding an insect, they scream out, “Trafe! Trafe!” Instead of removing the insect, they throw the whole salad away. Observing them, other customers throw their salads away too.

The difference is on where you place your focus - on the salad or on the insects?

Shabbat shalom!