And What if the People Had Reacted Differently?

Below is a translation of Nadia Matar's speech at the Lion's Gate which took place during the recent Women in Green march on Tisha B'Av.

On Tisha B'Av it was decreed that the people of Israel will not enter the Land of Israel because of the sin of the spies. Ten of the spies slandered the Land of Israel and the response of the people was:

"And the entire congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night." Said Rabba, said Rabbi Yochanan: That day was Tisha B'Av. And G‑d said: "They cried a needless crying, and I will set crying and lamentation for generations.

This is the place to ask: what would have happened if the people had reacted differently? Imagine this scenario: Ten spies (who, as we know, were much respected leaders and rabbis of the people) slander the Land of Israel. Calev and Joshua protest: "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it." The people join the two and reject the words of the ten spies. The entire Jewish history would look different, with no doubt for the better.

In other words, a key message of Tisha B'Av and of the sin of the spies is that the power to make history, to guide history, is in the hands of the people. G‑d is telling us: Instead of crying, you should have supported Calev and Joshua, in spite of them being minority, and together oppose the slandering leaders and rabbis! Do not blame the weak leaders. You, the people, needed to know where to stand and who to support.

G‑d decreed this punishment of lamentation for generations because of the people's reaction. Because of that defeatist response, the people were punished for generations upon generations. We cannot follow politicians, rabbis and leaders blindly, because some of them also slander the Land. How sad that these things are so actual!

In the desert the people said they can't even enter the Land. Today, the slanderers say we must give up parts of the Land. Not only the political left. To our disgrace, these days this slander is heard from rabbis and public figures that are supposed to be our leaders. How are we supposed to complain against the left if these voices are heard in our camp?

This is unbelievable! Three years after the destruction of Gush Katif and Northern Samaria we hear that the same leaders who planned the disgrace of Kfar-Maimon, now want to continue with the destruction of Migron. Sorry, that we'd agree to the "copying" of Migron to a new location. They always know how to find gentle and delicate words for horror and destruction. Then they called it "disengagement", now -- "copying".

Let us not think for one moment that Migron is a domestic dispute concerning only the Jews of Judea and Samaria. The struggle against the State of Israel by our Arab and European enemies is now focusing in Judea and Samaria. What happens in Judea and Samaria will influence the entire country. Migron is supposed to be the beginning of a domino effect that will bring down all Jewish communities to allow the creation of an Arab state that will be a danger to the whole country, from Eilat to Metulah.

Now the historical choice is in our hands. How will we, the people, respond to the slander against the Land of Israel in the Migron case? Will we repeat the mistake our forefathers made in the desert?

Will we whine and wail, or will we correct the sin of the spies and join those leaders and rabbis, even if they are a minority, that proudly declare, in the spirit of Joshua and Calev, that the entire Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel, and we will not agree to give up one piece of it!

In Kfar Maimon, we sinned. We cried, we whined instead of breaking down the fences, despite those weak leaders. If the fences were pulled down Gush Katif would exist today. We can blame the organizers of this disgrace but the main blame is with the people, that like a blind flock stayed obedient and did not rise up.

And now it is the duty of the people to fix the sin of the spies once and for all.

The correction must focus on a few levels concerning the struggle for the Land of Israel.

The sin and its punishment related to our attitude to the Land of Israel. Correcting this will come with our loyalty to the Land of Israel.

How will we do this?

The first and most basic thing to do -- which is obvious -- is keep the existing communities. Every place where Jews are sitting, every place under Israeli control -- Migron, Beit El, Shevut Ami, Shdema, Alon Shevut or Ariel -- we do not give away or "copy" to new locations. On the contrary, we only make these places bigger. Build, expand. This must be stated plainly and clearly.

And if anyone tries touching Migron or tries giving away Shdema to the Arab enemy for the purpose of building an Arab neighborhood next to Har Choma, we will fight for these places like a lioness would fight for her cubs.

But this is not enough. What about all the desolate places between every settlement? Hundreds of thousands of square meters in the Land of Israel, in the mountains of Judea and Samaria that are waiting to be settled? Every day they are slowly taken over by the Arab enemy. The last few months a European organization by the name OXFAM has been donating hundreds of tractors to the Arabs, and they have been taking over whole areas in Judea and Samaria, with the clear purpose of taking all our land and turning the existing settlements to small isolated islands in a sea of hostile Arabs. Of course the authorities have not done a thing, even though these lands are State Land. So what? Are we going to let them take control of our land? No! It is our duty to fix the sin of the spies and if our leaders will not do this than apparently we must do it ourselves.

But this also is not enough. There is another thing we must do for the struggle over the Land of Israel. We read about it in Parashat Mas'ei. G‑d tells us: "And you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell in it ­ for I have given you the land to possess it But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those whom you allow to remain of them shall be as thorns in your eyes, and stings in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein you dwell. Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do to you, as I thought to do to them."

"And you shall dispossess the land", Rashi tells us, and you will "drive out" the inhabitants of the land. In other words, a condition for our continued existence on this land is the expulsion of the Arab enemy. If we will not do so, they will be thorns in our eyes. Stings in our sides. They will even use their tractors to kill us.

We cannot ignore this subject any longer. Today we surround the Temple Mount like a bride that circles around her groom -- The people of Israel and the Land of Israel are like a married couple. And like a married couple, it is impossible for us to be willing to share out spouse with someone else. We cannot share this land with another nation. If we do not have the power to push the Arab enemy out now, at least we can do all we can to make them feel uncomfortable amongst us. Let them understand they are not wanted; we do not need to give them a living. The return to Jewish labor is part of repairing the sin of the spies, and a condition to settling the whole land.

Thank G‑d, since the destruction of Gush Katif and the north of Samaria a new generation has grown that is bent on fixing this sin. The wonderful youth that march and build proudly on all hills of Judea and Samaria are the followers of the Calev and Joshua spirit. Lovers of the Land of Israel, adults and teenagers, that took initiative and are struggling for our right to the Temple Mount, Shdema, Chomesh and many more, are fixing the sin of the spies. Calev and Yehoshua were only two. Today we have, thank G‑d, thousands. Our challenge is to turn those thousands into tens and hundreds of thousands. We can do it!

From here we are sending wishes and blessings of strength to our brothers in Migron. The responsibility of the faith of the Land of Israel lies on your shoulders. Continue to stick to your uncompromising position and everyone will join you. Do not fear the pressures that will be imposed on you by all the slanderers. The eyes of the people are raised to you. Do not let the slandering leaders do something that will cause lamentation for generations.

On Shabbat we read in Devarim: "Behold, the Lord thy G‑d has set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord G‑d of thy fathers has said to thee; fear not, nor be discouraged". "Go up and possess it" says G‑d. (in Hebrew it reads resh). If we listen to this command, and add to the word resh a divine dimension, meaning the letters of G‑d's name, then the Land of Israel will be a yerusha, an inheritance. If we do not do this, than the resh will be turned into gerush, meaning expulsion. The decision is in our hands.

May G‑d grant us the power to decide to follow in Calev and Joshua's footsteps, not to fear to inherit the land. Then we will please G‑d return to every place in Israel. We will speedily rebuild Gush Katif and northern Samaria. We will march to the Temple Mount and rebuild the temple, and see the Geula (Redemption) in our days, amen.

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