The Book of Devarim finds the Jewish people camped on the border of Israel about to enter the land. Encouraging the nation to set forth and conquer the Promised Land, Moshe proclaims: "Go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, to give them and to their seed after them." (Devarim 1:8) Rashi, in his commentary to this verse, writes: "No one is disputing [your claim to the land] and you have no need for war. Had you not sent the spies, you would not have needed weapons."

It was because of the sin of the spies that Eretz Israel could only be conquered through war. Had the Jewish people firmly believed that the Land of Israel was theirs, there would have been no need to engage in battle. The spies sinned in that they weren't sure that Israel was for them. They wanted to check it out first. The Canaanite peoples intuitively sensed this lack of attachment to the Land as an invitation to wage war against us and to dispute our Divine inheritance. Had the Jewish people been absolute in their conviction that Israel belongs only to the Jews, then no one on Earth would have dared to dispute our claim to the land.

Our rabbis teach that this very lack of conviction and certainty that Eretz Israel belongs to the Jewish people was the underlying cause for the destruction and exile, and all of the calamities that came in their wake (Ta?anit 29b).

To our great dismay, this same lack of conviction regarding our rights to Israel exists to this very day, both in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora.

At this time of great uncertainty, danger and upheaval in our Land, let us hope and pray that we will rise up to a true unwavering conviction that Eretz Israel is ours, and thereby deserve the consoling prophecy of Zacharia: "Thus says the L-rd of hosts ... the fast of the fifth [the month of Av] shall become times of joy and gladness." (Zecharia 8:19) Amen.


Rabbi David Samson is a rabbi and an author in Jerusalem. He heads the Ma'aleh Erev high school for youths who have dropped out of the regular educational system. His latest book, Ask the Rabbi (Arutz Sheva Publications), is a collection of Internet responsa.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.