Voices from Shiloh
Missing the Forest for The Trees
By Batya Medad
That expression is used for many “lessons,” missing the forest for the trees, when one gets all bogged down in details and forgets the true meaning or purpose.
One of the things I truly love about Voices Magazine is that it’s so unapologetically Israeli. More specifically, JEWISH-ISRAELI. Sharon Katz and I agree that true Jewish Life can only be lived here where Judaism began, in the Holy Land. (Sharon, I hope I pegged you right and I’m not just projecting my thoughts and feelings. But I met you first by reading your articles in the magazine and only later f2f.)
Many G-d fearing, Torah observant Jews live far from the Land of Israel and don’t mourn, apologize for the fact. They proudly state that they are super observant, stringent in obeying Torah Law by eating only the fussiest standards of Kashrut, keeping Shabbat & Holydays to their fullest, dressing carefully sans “shatnes” and by the strictest principles of tzniyut, halachic modesty.
They are so mired in the trees that they have no idea that they’re not in the forest, the Holy Land, ארץ ישראלת Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. If you follow the narrative development of the Bible, the Chumash most specifically, you see first that G-d created the world, the plants, animals, people, Shabbat and Judaism. To Abraham, the first Jew, he gave an order:
Leave your land and your traditions and your father’s house. And to where was Abraham and his family and followers supposed to go?
א וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ.
“…to the Land I will show you.” Bereishit Chapter 12
The rest of the Chumash, divided into portions and read annually, is the story, the saga of that trek. It’s not just a guide book for tourists. The story is much deeper than that. It follows Abraham’s descendants as they very realistically get mired in all sorts of wars and enslavements until they, with the help of G-d’s miracles, are about to enter/reenter that special Land.
That’s the “main idea,” the summary. We Jews are supposed to be in one Land and one Land only, ארץ ישראל The Land of Israel.
The Jewish Month of Iyar is a special month. In the first week we celebrate Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, Independence Day, and towards the end we celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day. Both these days show us how the Hand of G-d controls Jewish History.
David Ben-Gurion and his Jewish Socialist Zionist followers had been expecting to be more a “protectorate” than a truly independent country, but the young State of Israel was rejected by the world’s powers and had to survive on its own. And then nineteen years later, in 1967, when the young country was threatened extinction by the surrounding Arab countries, the United Nations and rest of the world stood idly by expecting (waiting for) us to be defeated and destroyed. But, again, G-d saved us, and not only didn’t we end six days later as we had began, but Israel found itself holding our historic Homeland, Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley, Gaza, Golan and the Sinai. As an added bonus we finally had defensible borders.
This is a history of Biblical proportions and importance. Many Jews throughout the world understand G-d’s message and came, but there are still those who are caught in the trees. I can only feel sorry for them.
I thank G-d every day for the privilege of living here in Shiloh and helping to build our nation. Baruch Hashem!