Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir Eyal ben Ayish

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin (http://inthelandoftheJews.blogspot.com)

One verse in the Shelach Lecha Torah portion (this past Shabbat in israel and this coming Shabbatin the Diaspora) reveals an important secret:

Spies are sent out to survey the Land of Israel and most of them return to their people in the desert with a negative report. After encountering the residents of the Land, they say it makes no sense to journey there. In the course of their discussion, they utter these significant words: "And we seemed like grasshoppers in our eyes, and so we were in their eyes."

In other words, first we saw ourselves as grasshoppers, as weak individuals, and therefore that was how those we encountered saw us too. After we saw ourselves as small and meek, lacking self-assurance, without hope -- we were similarly evaluated by those we met in the Land of israel.

Yet wasn't it God who told Moshe Rabbeinu to send the spies on this mission and also promised that it would be successful? So what was the source of the spies' weakness?

What was true in the desert is true today as well: Our self-image is the foundation of our attitude, of how we see ourselves and of how others see us. If we see ourselves as self-confident, if we go out into the world with optimism, faith, and a vision for the future, others will see us that way too.

That is one of the things we must teach our chiildren, along with much more as the school year ends - or perhaps really begins...

700,00 high school students in Israel begin summer vacation on June 20th, and as *Rabbi Yaakov Edelstein zt"l* used to say: *"Now the real school year begins".*

After all, summer vacation is not a vacation from values or from anything that is important to us. It's a vacation from school alone.

In a certain sense, during vacation we see who we truly are. When there are no school bells, teachers, or exams, we make decisions on our own - when to get up and when to go to sleep, how to fill up the day, how to relate to our surroundings. Indeed most of our lives are lived outside the school system hours imposed by the Ministry of Education. And therefore summer vacation is an authentic taste of life, the most important semester of the year. Now that summer vacation is upon us, the real school year begins.

May our children - and we, too - enjoy success in the weeks ahead.

Doron Almog: About "them" and about us*

Here are a few quotes from *Doron Almog*, a Major General (res.) in the IDF, founder of the Aleh Negev Rehabilitation Village, who was chosen as the new Chairman of the Jewish Agency:

"My son Eran suffers from both a mental disability and autism. He has never spoken, never called me Abba, and has never cried. Despite all of this, he is my greatest teacher in life."

"Who are the people whom we treat? Why care about them at all? In my view, they testify to our vulnerability, to our delicate status as strong and healthy individuals. At any moment, any one of us could be in Eran's situation. Whoever doubts this is welcome to visit our rehabilitation department and see successful human beings who lie in bed without moving. Don't look at them as 'different.' All of us are likely to become completely dependent on others sooner or later. And then we, too, will benefit from those who never lose the human touch."

"I was the first soldier to land in Entebbe (in 1976, in a commando raid to free Israelis whose plane had been hijacked). From my perspective, our activity is a continuous 'Operation Entebbe': to be the first responders in this area as well, to be leaders in the relationship we forge with the weak."

"Lovingkindness is one of the three pillars on which the world stands: Torah, Service of God, and Lovingkindness. It seems that society's values have become materialistic, that our culture is caught up with ratings and superficial standards of beauty, that appearances are all that matter. But at the same time I can say that I am privileged every day to see among us employees and volunteers who hug and kiss the vulnerable and rejected, whose appearance keeps many people away. In our dedicated caregivers, we see the true Israeli and Jewish DNA that lies within, where a lot more than what is seen from the outside is revealed."

May you enjoy much success in your new position.