By Shmuel Sackett
Ask your fellow Jew the following question and see if he/she answers it correctly: “Who were the people lucky enough to leave Egypt and actually enter the Land of Israel 40 years later?” My guess is that the overwhelming answer will be the following: “The only ones who left Egypt and entered Israel were those who were under 20 years of age at the time of the Exodus, plus Yehoshua and Caleb. This was due to the tragic Sin of the Spies and the subsequent punishment by Hashem that anyone over 20 would die in the desert.”
I am willing to bet that if you ask this question to 100 people (who know the story), at least 95 of them will give you this answer. After all, the Torah itself seems to say this very clearly. When pronouncing the punishment, Hashem Himself said the following; “Because you complained about Me, your corpses will fall in this desert. This will happen to your complete tally, everyone over 20 years old who was counted… will not come into the land regarding which I swore… the only exceptions with be Caleb and Yehoshua” (Ba’Midbar 14:29-30 – translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z”l)
While this may seem like the right answer… it is not. There were actually lots of people over 20 at the time of the Exodus who left Egypt yet merited to enter Eretz Yisrael. They were called… the Jewish women! Rashi is very clear about this; “Upon the women, the decree of the Spies was not decreed, for they held the land precious. The men said, ‘Let us appoint a leader and let us return to Egypt’, but the women said, ‘Give us a possession’!” (Ba’Midbar 26:64 – Rashi’s commentary – translation by ArtScroll)
We seem to be very familiar with the famous line in the Talmud that states how “In the merit of the righteous women… Israel was redeemed from Egypt” (Sotah 11b) but how many of us know the Rashi I just quoted? Sadly, just a handful. So let me repeat it in my own words: The men (above 20) died in the desert but the women did not because they loved the Land of Israel! When the Spies returned and gave their evil report about Israel, the women refused to accept it. It was the men who kvetched and wanted to return to America, I mean Egypt, but the women said “No way!” Therefore, when the punishment was announced, the women were not included and they merited to enter the Holy Land with all its glory and splendor.
That was exactly 3,329 years ago and we need to know that what happened then, can and must happen now! Therefore, I am addressing the rest of this article to the Jewish women. If any men are reading this, I have just one thing to say: Please pass the article immediately to your wife, mother, daughter, sister and every female cousin!
Dearest sister; as you know, the Torah is not a book of stories. It is our guidebook, our compass and our instructions for living. If the Torah tells us that Jewish women were strong in their love for the Land of Israel then you need to muster that strength today as well. Most guys I know have their head spinning in different directions and moving to Israel is usually not on their radar. Therefore, it’s you who Am Yisrael needs. We need you to be the backbone and driving force behind the dream of raising your family in the Promised Land. There will be lots of negativity with people telling you it can’t be done. Your husband may ask, “How will I make a living?” Your kids may complain about losing their friends and people will hit you with complaints about Israeli schools and health care. The only way to overcome this is to tap into the great women you come from… the ones from 3,329 years ago who heard the same complaints – and far worse – yet refused to believe a word of it!
Think about it. 10 of the 12 spies return from a 40 day mission and gave their report. These were very respected men… leaders of the generation! Let’s be honest for a minute. What they said was very frightening! “The people living in the land are aggressive and the cities are large and well fortified… Amalek lives in the Negev, the Hittities, Yebusites and Amorites live in the hills and the Canaanites live near the sea… The land consumes its inhabitants. All the men we saw there were huge… sons of the giants… we felt like tiny grasshoppers” (Ba’Midbar 13:28-33 – translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z”l)
It is easy for me to say that I would not have listened to them but reality might have been different. The men heard this and became scared but the women – who heard the exact same words – refused to back down. Their response? “Give us a possession” says Rashi! They might have been afraid but they trusted in Hashem completely. They knew that Hashem didn’t take the Jewish Nation out of Egypt just to have some Hittites wipe them off the face of the earth a few months later. They understood the challenge and danger but had complete faith that the King of Kings would guide them to victory, success and help them set up a beautiful life for their families.
I won’t waste any words. Simply put, we need that faith, optimism and positive energy today. If the Jewish women did it once, they can do it again. Don’t wait for your husband to call Nefesh b’Nefesh… you do it! Don’t let the negative words of the modern day spies infect your pure soul. Assure your husband that he will find a job, talk to your kids about the wonderful new friends they will have and tell all your neighbors about how your family will thrive in Israeli schools and with the medical system.
My sister; You are the rock and Am Yisrael needs you as much as ever! Many years ago you didn’t believe the negativity so don’t believe it today. Israel is strong, beautiful, spiritually alive and moving closer to Hashem every single day. Our kids are thriving, our economy is growing and the quality of life cannot be beat. This is the place to raise your family and to connect to Jewish history. Tap into the energy of your 3,329 old grandmother and make that spirit come alive today. We can’t do it without you.