I have been asked to comment about Havat Gilad. I will preface my remarks with a story that HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook would tell students to explain the painful phenomena of yeridah.
Once a shidduch was arranged, but before the meeting, the girl realized that she knew who the boy was, and she wasn’t interested in him at all. But she didn’t want to hurt his feelings by calling off the meeting, so she dressed up in soiled and wrinkled clothes and left her hair a mess, so she would appear unappealing when they met. Sure enough, the boy was repelled and decided that he didn’t want to meet her again. He thought he was rejecting her, when, in actually, it was the girl who had rejected him.
“This is what happens with people who leave the Land of Israel,” Rabbi Kook explained. “G-d, in His kindness, doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of any Jew, so he makes the person think that he is the one who rejects Eretz Yisrael, when, in fact, Eretz Yisrael really is rejecting him. G-d sets things in his path that he finds displeasing, so he feels justified in abandoning the Land. But it is really the Land that puts on an ugly countenance in order to expel him for not loving her enough.”
The same is true for people who find all sorts of excuses for not making aliyah. When they look at Eretz Yisrael, they don’t like this and they don’t approve of that. Because they don’t set the Land of Israel over their highest joy, G-d causes them to see only the bad. They’ll tell you that they’ve seen prostitutes in Tel Aviv, and that the government is corrupt, and that Israeli policemen shoot plastic bullets at Jewish settlers. Not wanting to hurt their feelings, G-d makes them think that they are the ones who are rejecting the Land, when, in reality, it is the Land that is rejecting them.
Police violence at Havat Gilad
It was the same with the Spies who saw giants in the Land, became frightened, and declared that they weren’t making aliyah because not everything was to their liking. Unlike Joshua and Calev who saw the good, the Spies focused on the bad. So they died in the wilderness, while Joshua and Calev entered the Land with all those who loved the Land more than their personal comfort, their positions, and their egos (Mesillat Yeshurim, Ch.19).
This week, we begin the Book of Vayikra, which records the order of the sacrifices. The Torah portion begins, "Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: When a person from you will bring an offering to Hashem...." The expression "from you" teaches us that the sacrifice must come from ourselves - we ourselves must be ready to sacrifice in serving Hashem, even to sacrifice our lives if need be. How much more so to be willing to give up a little comfort from our all too comfortable lives.