The Spies Among Us say:
"The Land is very, very good."


Erev Shabbat Parsha Shelach Lecha 5770
June 3. 2010

Last week we asked you to spy out the Land and return with a good report. (here's that post) I am happy to say the vote this time is united: The Land is indeed very, very good! You can still send us the results of your intelligence; we'll be happy to include it.

Now...for the Spies' Report:

When I think of Israel, I am reminded of so many friends who had the courage to pick up everything and leave the familiar surrounding of America and go home to a place that really feels like home...The common thread all these friends share, aside from living in Israel, is that they are content. When [one dear friend] moved, she was 100% confident that she would love her home - not just her house, but her home. When I speak with her now, she agrees that she is content. There is no other place she'd rather be.

I echo the sentiments of those who feel a connection to the earth of the Eretz. It is holy dirt, earth that our ancestors trod, dust that covers my shoes covered their shoes. The pride and unconditional love I feel for the land comes from knowing I carry on a tradition handed down from HaKadosh Baruch Hu to us, his children, to visit historical places in Jewish history, unearth Jewish antiquities and preserve them and keep His Torah alive. You cannot do all this anywhere else but Israel.

Here's my 12 reasons to love Israel:

1. What a pleasure it is to be majority religion.
2. What a pleasure it is for things to close down Friday afternoon and reopen Sunday morning, not Sunday at 12.
3. What a pleasure for place of business to be open Christmas day and be closed on Rosh Hashana.
4. What a pleasure it is be able to eat in any restaurant because the food is kosher.
5. What a pleasure it is to find so many hat shops!
6. What a pleasure it is to find modest clothing in women's clothing stores.
7. What a pleasure it is to be able to find a small shteibel on virtually every corner.
8. What a pleasure it is to see all walks of women (orthodox and non-orthodox) using the same mikvah.
9. What a pleasure it is to touch the smooth stones of the Kotel, knowing the tens of thousands of fingers have touched them for the same reasons you touch them - to get a millimeter closer to HaShem.
10. What a pleasure it is to feel so safe and protected in a place where many would argue is extremely unsafe.
11. What a pleasure it is to hear your neighbors singing the same Shabbos songs you're singing, every single week.
12. What pleasure I take in knowing that one day, Please G-d, I, too, will be able to live in Israel.



What a wonderful thought. Here is my list.
1) I find inner peace when I am in Israel and it gives me strength to
return to my life here in Canada to enjoy my friends and family.

2) I now have relatives living in Israel.

Marsha Krakowsky


I loved feeling that, no matter where I went in Israel, I felt I belonged, that I was home.


Hi, what a great idea! I can think of lots of things I loved about being in Israel. . .

I loved feeling like every minute I was accomplishing something, just because I was in Israel. If I rode the bus, it was major, just because I was in Israel. If I went to the grocery store, it was a big deal, just because I was in Israel. Nothing I could do felt like a waste of time.

And, of course I loved the sharing of taxis. Two people standing somewhere, maybe you were going in the same direction? From taxi rides, I received Shabbos invites and made new friends. I tried this in New York once. . . just didn’t' have the same feel.

Oh yes, and even the most secular of Israelis believes in G-d. “Baruch Hashem,” you hear people saying. Here, in America, it often feels like we intellectually believe in G-d, but we don't really. We don't feel it. We just rationalized it/justified it/logic-ed it out. But there -- you FEEL G-d.

There is a sense that we are all one big family, that G-d is with us, and there is meaning to every minute of our lives. Not a day passes that I don't think of moving back. . .


-Every family needs a home, and living in Eretz Yisroel is living in our family's true home.
-Every few steps we walk we are fulfilling the Mitzvah of Sechar Halicha
-Being around other Jews, you always have someone to learn from
-The history of our people is around every corner here
-The land is beautiful and Jerusalem in particular is Yafefiah - very beautiful.


Walking through the Machane Yehuda shuk you have a plethora of delicious fruits and vegetables, most were grown keeping laws of Truma, Maaser, Orlah, and Shmittah, that can only be done here!!!

On Shavuos, regardless of cultural differences, 100's of 1000's of Jews gather at the Kotel, where Hashem's Shechina is most revealed, and daven together.

When you donate blood here, you are giving directly to your brother.

The bus driver says, "Shalom."

You can buy food for years at the local grocery without having to pay your bill; isn't that a ridiculously high level of trust?

When you take a loan from the bank, they provide the Heter Iska! (a halachic contract for business transaction between lender and debtor)

There are no cars on the highway on Yom Kippur, so the very secular make bike races on that day - because even they won't drive a car on Yom Kippur!


From Faith Cohen
I always say that my role as madrica on these Birthright trips is just a facilitator. The real tour guide is the Almighty— and the land really inspires, captivates and leads the group. My job is to bring them safely to different locations, and let the majesty of the land and the kedusha of the air take over.

1. A silent night stroll in the desert under the stars creates a noise that is as loud as thunder when it reverberates with the soul. During the "Bedouin Experience" portion of the trips, we take the group for a quiet walk through the desert. It is on these walks and afterwards through reflection that participants realize that they are an integral part of the Jewish people. They look at the numerous stars in the sky, and learn that they too are a link and a part of the promise given to Avraham Avinu. Perhaps they would feel this anywhere in the world when faced with a sky lit up as bright as day with hundreds of sparkling stars, but when paired with the experience of meeting our homeland and learning about our heritage, and tracing the footsteps of our ancestors, they are awoken in a way that is indescribable.

2. Meeting a soldier who is your age, and realizing that you have more in common than you thought. "Mifgashim" is a part of the Birthright trips— where soldiers come to join the group as participants. Often, the American participants think they'll have nothing in common with the soldiers. That is until they meet them and realize that these soldiers are their age, their peer group, and support the weight of the state of Israel on their shoulders. The amount of love and support shown to the soldiers by the end of the trip is awesome. They become a part of the group, and the participants can really see and feel that these individuals are sacrificing not just for Jews in Israel, but for all of klal yisroel.

3. Seeing the Kotel for the first time, and crying even through you don't know why. There is something about Yerushalyim, and the Kotel in particular that really strikes a chord inside someone's soul. When I see those tears, I know that it is coming from deep within them— and something subconsciously draws them to the wall. There really is no other way to describe it. Ultimately, their neshamos are a part of something much larger, and just that atmosphere of kedusha at the Kotel brings them back to that realization.


I miss "crying" as an acceptable social activity. If you go to Kotel, kever Rachel, any of the graves of tzadikim, it's perfectly acceptable -- praiseworthy -- to cry out in pain, anguish, need of a refuah! In America, life must always be perfect -- "have a nice day" is a platitude that no one really means, and if anyone asks, "how are you" they really don't care. If I wanted hang out with a girlfriend and of these locales, where we would inevitably end up crying, would be an activity. A meaningful, worthwhile activity.

And, I miss feeling like you can get on a bus, and know "generally' where you're going, with full faith that someone on the bus will help you find exactly where you need to be. And where hitchhiking is an acceptable -- and safe -- form of transportation.

And of course the Kotel. Not just for the crying. But the feeling like there really is a center of the universe.
The positive aspects of this land are to numerous to even try to list. The sky is bluer, the air fresher, sweeter, the food tastier the people more real and alive. The day-to-day existence is so filled with reality that one comes to understand what is real and meaningful, and it’s not what you'd expect.


1. To be able to daven at the Kosel
2. To be among our own people, everywhere i.e. shopping, buses, just walking around
3. The siren on Erev Shabbos- no cars on Shabbos in the old city
4. To be able to daven at so many mekomos hakedoshim
5. To be in the land Hashem promised us


I never lived in Israel, but have dreamed about it since my 1st visit in 1968. My second visit was in 1988 and I felt my heart sink seeing the Old City for the first time in 20 years, realizing I wasn’t a part of the rebuilding by living there. So, in my 8 subsequent visits, I’ve only imagined what it would be like to live every day in Eretz Yisrael.

Here’s what I think the best part of living in Israel would be: I would feel a sense of gratitude every day for where I live instead of a deep seated longing that goes unfulfilled. I would breathe the holy air of the holy land every day. Remember that Hashem made each of us in His holy Image to choose wisely what we do with our lives and where we spend our time.

That’s my 2 cents for today.

Judi Kirk


The best for me is that everyone is Jewish and you don't feel different. Although my relatives there are 2nd and 3rd cousins, they feel much closer. We feel like one of them. Once I was very sick in Israel and wound up in the old hospital in Safed. Although scared, I felt that I was in good hands. When my doctor came in with a Kippah, I felt safe and it would be okay. The best is that feeling of being home.


Thanks for the invitation to contribute. Some things quickly came to mind. You should not attribute me: I do not wish to blow my cover since I may wish to spy for you in the future, too.
1) Living as an observant Jew in a pastoral setting (small town, village, farming community)
2) Being able to observe shmitta in all its manifestations
3) Living among Jews of all stripes and flavors, within a generation or two of arrival from >100 countries
4) Walking where my ancestors walked thousands of years ago
5) That radio program discussing this week's haftora, immediately following a pop hit by Lady GaGa... and targeted the same audience
6) The group (somewhat immodestly dressed) teens in a food court during Pesach, squinting as they read a ketchup package to see if it contained chometz
7) Not having to explain why you feel as you do....
8) Is it reishit tzmichat geulateinu (the first flowering of our Redemption) or not? Even if we do not know, living in Israel surely can’t hurt...


I've only been to Israel twice in my life: once when I was 18 with my parents and siblings, and right before I met my bashert; and the other time with my bashert and our four sons. I was conservative observant at age 18, and more orthodox observant when I went to Israel the second time. Both times, I had the same feelings when we arrived in Israel and when we left Israel. I was overcome with joy of returning home, and overcome with sadness of leaving Israel, our true home. A friend of ours calls Israel the "heart of the world.” It tears at our heartstrings when we are away from it.

Pam Williams


Thank you for this wonderful challenge - wonderful to think about all the things I love about living in Israel; challenging, because I have to pick and choose the one(s) most appropriate for this project. Feel free to visit my blog and take anything you like out of there. Here's my attempt at summing it all up:

Living in Israel means living MY calendar. My holidays are the country's holidays. My days off from work are my employer's days off from work, etc. This weekend is Memorial Day here in the U.S. It means little more to me than a bar-b-q. Ditto for Independence Day (July 4). New Year's Day (January 1) is when I start dating my checks with a new digit or two at the end. In Israel, I cry on Memorial Day, jump for joy on Independence Day and on Rosh Hashanah I stand before the King of Kings "ba'Makome asher yivchar" (in the place that He has chosen). Take me Home!

Yashar Koach on throwing the ball in our court, Rena. Can't wait to see what you compile.

Love, S.


SO here are 12 things I love
1-The children are very self reliant on the one hand, and maintain their childishness too
2-The school and work calendar is built around the Jewish calendar -- no need to take vacation days for chaggim
3-Fresh bread is dropped off outside the local store in the morning, if the store is not yet open; I can take a loaf of bread and pay for it later
4-We are all family -- a deliveryman can yell you at one moment and be giving you brachot the next
5-Buying tzitzit and bedikat cloths at the grocery store
6-On erev Shabbat and erev Chag, the streets are lined with vendors selling flowers and fruit for Shabbat
7-The grocery clerks wishes you a Shabbat shalom and chag sameach
8-The tent in the parking lot sells Purim costumes
9-The pool has separate hours for men and women
10-It's more common to find big families in small homes than small families in big homes
11-Yom Hazikaron is truly a day to remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for this land
12-You can travel a short distance and be in a place relevant to Tanach


For us, now being back in America, we can see that during our time in Israel, although there were the gashmius "difficulties" and "adjustments" the spiritual clarity and day-to-day ruchnius was ever-present.

Of course now in America, and worldwide, most people are experiencing the gashmius "difficulties" and "adjustments" AND are TOTALLY lacking spiritual clarity and daily, or even monthly, ruchnius. So I guess that makes a very strong case for where we need to be...



Shopping in Machane Yehuda Thursday nights and Friday mornings to
prepare for Shabbos. it is great fun buying rugelach, salads, and
cheeses with thousands of other Jews, while eating a falafel and
shlepping all of your bags.

Celebrating Purim all week long. The stores are all loaded with silly
costumes, and shaloch manos baskets galore. The streets are filled with
happy children dressed up in costumes singing age-old Purim songs. the
joy lasts for days even when the parade is over.

Living in the old city and celebrating Yom Yerushalim with loads of other Jews while listening to a concert and watching fireworks.

Going cherry picking on a local kibbutz and being able to learn how to take your own truma and maaser on your fresh picked cherries.

Staying up all night on Shavuos hopping from one class to another, or one cheesecake party to another and meeting thousands of other Jews down at the Kotel for sunrise Shacharis.

Watching the yeshiva HaKotel boys dance and sing their way down to the Kotel for Kabbalat Shabbat.

This is a small sampling from josh and Jodi

& here's a final note from an insightful woman in America who, like many of you, is strengthening K'lal Yisrael in her own special way:

Things could change. At this time in our life, I feel we will be better off here (we are very blessed in so many ways).

As I walk in the neighborhood I say Berachas for all the people I see and all the homes we pass. Does I help them? I do not know but it helps me.

We are grateful you and David are happy living there and my constant prayer is for a political change, for a better world absorbed in study of Torah.


Well, I am crying, how about you??

Reading your reports really made me think about what it will take for everyone to see how amazingly good the Land is. Besides seeing the good and speak positively, I wonder... if we are also being negative (sad, complaining, jealous), are we dulling the good we've put out there? For example, I just don't understand when I hear my fellow olim say, "It's too hot to...(fill in the blank)," "I can't find decent mustard ( sauce, dry cleaners...) anywhere in this country," or " What's with all the sick cats?"

The sin of the spies was one of Loshen Hara, hearing and believing slander, true or not. We correct that damaging trait with an "ayin tova" focusing on the good in The Land of Israel.

B"H it's hot, that means fields and fields of sunflowers! The mustard is just fine here, maybe having 17 choices is not so important, anyway. And remember, you can now find decent tunafish and Heinz ketchup pretty much about anywhere. About the cats...we have virtually no rats, case closed.

And it's not only the Land, as our final spy reported. It's even more important, I think, when it comes to each other. Let's not talk about "them" : the groups of Jews we don't "get.” Let's not be distracted by our friend's/family member's/co-worker's shortcomings; we all have them, after all. Let's see the tzelem Elokim (the G-dliness) in every Jew!

With our "ayin tova" we can eradicate Loshen Hara and truly build each other up. Then we might actually see a K'lal Yisrael settled in Eretz Yisrael the way it's supposed to be, because Eretz Yisrael will only flourish with her People.

Thank you, all you spies among us. Like Calev and Yehoshua, the two spies who returned to the Land in the merit of their positive report, we hope that you continue seeing everything with your ayin tova and may Hashem bless you all to come home soon.

Renee and David

~Baruch haBah to our newest olim from Atlanta, Rabbi Kalman and Mrs. Malka Rosenbaum, who instilled in our children, and in everyone they meet, that each of us is a tzelem Elokim. Your arrival touches us all, may we merit to hear bsoros tovos together soon.~


Devo said...

As always, I am in tears reading your beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts (and the thoughts of some of your readers) with me.

Linda said...

As for me, my report would be this:
Once in Eretz Yisorel, you also have a part of it with you and when you return to the Land, then you feel complete. Maybe that is why Jews also feel like they are "home" in Israel.

Phil said...

The passing of Malka Rosenbaum is very sad to me. You can listen to the hesped from Rabbi Rosenbaum at

There's also a video clip of Mrs. Rosenbaum teaching about King David. Just search the page for "King David Video" at