It frequently occurs that the old timers in Mom’s nursing home don’t want to eat. When that happens, they have to be forced fed. It doesn’t look so pleasant to see, and it’s less pleasant to be the one handling the spoon, but what can you do? Though it looks like you’re hurting the person, you’re really doing a big mitzvah. Sometimes a stubborn person will clamp his or her teeth shut like iron, and you have to cajole, and raise your voice, and push the spoon into the mouth with more force than you would have liked, but the food has got to get down the throat in order to keep the person alive.
It’s the same with writing about aliyah. A lot of people clamp shut their teeth and don’t want to imbibe the message, but they have to be fed anyway, in order to save their lives. In the famous prophecy of the Dried Bones, the Prophet, Ezekiel, compared the exile to a graveyard. The Gaon of Vilna teaches that the foreign cultures in foreign lands are like worms that eat away at the bones of the Jewish People (even the the Torah scholars) until our true understanding of the Torah becomes decayed and we forget that we really belong in the Land of Israel.
Since Pesach is a month away, it is the custom to already begin learning about the holiday. As we have written in the past, the goal of our exodus from Egypt was to bring the Jews to the Land of Israel, as G-d tells Moshe at their very first encounter: “I have surely seen the affliction of My People who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of Egypt to bring them up out of that land to a good and large Land flowing with milk and honey….” (Shemot, 3:7-8).
The goal of the exodus is to re-establish the Jewish People in the Land of Israel. Along the way, there is a stop at Mount Sinai to receive the holy code of life, the Torah, which will allow the Jews to live a life of prosperity and blessing in their unique Holy Land. But Sinai is only a way station. The destination is Israel. We are to live our lives as Jews as part of the Jewish Nation, the Nation of Israel, in the Land of Israel, and not in Egypt, the wilderness of Sinai, America, Canada, or Japan.
The terrible sin of the Spies was in rejecting G-d’s plan for the Jewish People in Eretz Yisrael. They wanted to stay put in galut. After all, they had the comfort of the manna, the miraculous well, and the protective Clouds of Glory – why journey on to Israel where they would have to fight savage enemies and work hard to make the holy soil give forth its fruit?
That’s why some people have to be forced fed. Even though they don’t want to imbibe the message, it’s for their own good. Sure they think I’m a monster trying to shove a spoon down their throat, but it’s really because I love them, the same way that I love my Mom.