Bet Shaan – Emek Yizrael


Leshichno Tidreshu

Cleaving to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land

And You shall Eat… and Bless HaShem Your God for the Good Land

We shall thank You HaShem our God for the endeared, good, and wide Land You have given to our Forefathers…’’ Thanking and acknowledging God in regard to the Good Land He has given us is a dominant theme in a Jew’s daily life, as can be seen in Blessings after Meals, in the Prayer for the return of the Holy Presence to Zion in all our Amida prayers, in our prayers that our exiles be ingathered to our Holy Land, and much more. Although this emphasis on the Land of Israel in our prayers, etc. has been true throughout the generations, we find that our generation in particular has been Divinely given great opportunity, and with that responsibility, in discovering the great spiritual light of our Holy Land, to such an extent that Rabbi Y. M Charlap zt”l puts the Land of Israel as the main point/issue of our generation. Therefore, it is no surprise that, as we showed two weeks ago, that the sin of the spies of antiquity – the source of Tisha Bav – has such startling resemblance to the expulsion of Gush Katif in our generation which also began on Tisha Bav. Thus, in the past two weeks we have laid out a basic outline of spiritual work and a devotional method not only as a rectification, but also and primarily as an ideal methodology of tapping into and ‘developing’ the great Light of the Holy Presence in our Holy Land, which will be advanced into ‘developing’ the great Light of our Holy Temple, God willing. Just as material produce grown in our Land must be watered and cultivated, so too and even more so does the spiritual growth emanating from the Power of the Holy Presence of this Land need constant spiritual ‘watering’ and cultivation. Therefore, in the following several weeks we will discuss this cultivation, not only as a general outline, but also spell out this methodology for all those who wish to follow this great spiritual path. Two weeks ago we discussed the great value in thanking HaShem for the good Land He has given us, with a primary emphasis on the Holy Presence of this Land. Ultimately this gratitude should bring one to great joy, which, according to our Sages, is crucial for ‘encountering’ the Holy Presence which we are seeking. This bliss in turn facilitates contemplative, and afterwards meditative, thought directed towards HaShem and His Holy Presence. At first, this meditative thought may only be concentrated at a certain period of time, say 20 minutes to an hour a day. However, as one advances one is meant to take this concentrated thought on God and His Presence throughout all matters of life, as it says (see also Rambam Deot ch. 3) “in all your ways you shall know Him.” In truth, this path is ancient. It is the path of those who seeked prochecy, etc. as described by the Rambam in Yesodei Hatorah ch. 7 and many others. The emphasis on the Holy Presence of the Land of Israel in this meditation is taken from our method of prayer which the poskim on the Shulhan Aruch describe as one of our closest encounters with prophecy, which was so prevalent among our people in the First Temple Era. This quietness of mind can be hinted to in the name of one of the cities of our Land, Beit Shaan, literally meaning ‘the house of tranquillity’. As we described the place of tranquillity in the spiritual method it seems that this tranquillity has importance also on a material level (see scientific studies on the influence of tranquil speech on plants). Indeed, Bet Shaan and its surrounding Emek Yizrael – ‘the valley God will seed/plant’ – is considered the ‘bread-basket’ of the Land of Israel in its crop productivity. Our Sages teach that the material realm receives its vitality from the spiritual realm. As we have shown in the past, it is Hebron which is the ‘sprouting’ impetus of the Holy Land, where our Forefathers began the first Jewish settlement, where King David began his reign, prototype of the Messiah.

Real Stories from our Holy Land: “One day, my wife calls me, telling me we have a huge overdraft in our account and that we also need money for house-repairs. Just then, my daughter tells my wife that she read that there is a segula (omen) to promise to say Nishmat Kol Hai when Divinely helped on a certain metter. When I asked my wife, how much money we need she answered  ’20 and something thousand shekels’. To this I answered, ‘let’s round it up to thirty thousand and have faith that HaShem will help us’.  I began thanking God for this debt with faith that it is His Will and promised to say Nishmat Kol Hai with His salvation. The next morning (!!!) I received a phone call from someone who wanted to open a business project with me immediately, and so I did. Later, that evening, my wife asks me: ‘how much profit do you get from this new business project?’ I said that I didn’t check the bottom line. ‘So maybe check’, she said. I checked the numbers and made the calculations, and the final profit came to be exactly 30,000 NIS!!!”

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