July 17, 2024
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The Land Is Very, Very Good

Dvir Resler and his mother.

How do we remain optimistic when those around us despair?

In this week’s Torah portion, only two of the 12 spies — Yehoshua and Kalev — did not despair after their 40-day tour of the land of Canaan. Ten spies saw the land and panicked, feeling threatened by the giants who lived there. They abandoned their dream, believing it would be a grave mistake to settle in the land of Israel. Only Yehoshua and Kalev dared to oppose their thinking and declared: “The land is very, very good.” Today we recognize their foresight and courage.

What empowers an optimistic minority to stand firmly against a pessimistic majority? Rashi’s commentary provides insights, guiding us to look both to the past and to the future for strength.

Regarding the past, Rashi explains that Kalev visited the graves of the patriarchs and the matriarchs in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. He prayed that he would not be influenced by the negative report of the ten spies. Kalev’s faith in God’s promise to his nation was unwavering, and this conviction guided his actions. In the moment of crisis, he ignored the prevailing opinions, and instead sought inspiration from the Avot, and prostrated himself on the graves of Avraham and Sarah.

Michael Gottesman

Regarding the future, the second spy in the minority was originally named Hoshea until Moshe Rabbeinu added a yud to his name, changing it to Yehoshua, meaning “God will save.” Rashi points out that Moshe prayed for God to save Yehoshua from the counsel of the 10 spies. From Yehoshua’s resilience, we learn the profound impact of a tzaddik’s prayer. Thus, while Kalev drew strength from the past, Yehoshua was saved through Moshe’s prayer for the future.

When faced with uncertainty, confusion or disillusionment due to current challenges, turning our thoughts positively towards the past and the future can empower us with perspective and inner strength. Our collective story is far more enduring than the immediate events may suggest.

 

A Birthday Present

Ravit is the mother of Staff Sgt. Dvir Resler who fell in battle on Simchat Torah. In honor of his birthday, 17 Sivan, his family decided to focus on the mitzvah of honoring parents, since that was so intrinsic to who he was.

“Dvir was very close to us and we had wonderful conversations,” she shared. “He always helped out at home and showed us so much love. Recently his friends shared some new and moving information about him that we didn’t know.

“While we are a religious family, Dvir didn’t wear a kippah. Nevertheless, whenever his friends would invite him to go out with them on Shabbat, he would refuse, saying, ‘I can’t, it would upset my mother.’ When they tried to convince him, saying that his mother wouldn’t know, he would answer, ‘Even if she never finds out about it, I don’t want to hurt my parents.’ He was able to continually withstand this peer pressure, yet his friends still accepted him and looked up to him as a leader.

To mark the day when Dvir was sent down to this world to fulfill his mission, we would like to give him a birthday present: We call on everyone to continue on his path of observing the mitzvah of honoring your parents with love. Do something to make them happy, even something small like sending a bouquet of flowers, making them a cup of coffee, inviting them for a meal, or even just sending them a thoughtful message on WhatsApp.

Sivan Rahav Meir and Ziva Meir.

Heroic Moments

On the morning of Simchat Torah, Michael Gottesman, a dedicated member of the emergency security team in the Gaza border town of Shlomit, received an urgent call. Terrorist forces had infiltrated the nearby community of Pri Gan. Without hesitation, Michael rode swiftly to the scene, ready to defend his community.

For hours, Michael engaged in intense and grueling combat, until he was severely wounded in the hand. After receiving initial medical care, Michael was transferred to the day clinic at the ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran rehabilitation village. The injury had caused a significant loss of function in his hand, making everyday tasks like holding his cell phone or picking up his children nearly impossible.

Doron Almog, the founder of ADI, shared that Michael’s days were filled with rigorous occupational therapy, each session a step towards regaining his independence. Last week, during an occupational therapy session, Michael achieved a significant milestone. For the first time since his injury, he was able to raise a glass of water with his injured hand – the same hand that had neutralized Hamas terrorists. Before drinking, he recited the bracha of Shehakol, marking a moment of triumph and gratitude.

 

Confidence in Who We Are

Here are some insightful words from my mother-in-law, parenting counselor Ziva Meir, as shared at an event we co-hosted recently:

“There is a fundamental principle that when parents are aligned with the best part of themselves, this positive energy inevitably influences their children. As parents cultivate their character traits, their children naturally emulate these qualities, without the need for verbal reinforcements or raised voices.

“When we genuinely connect with our children with love and understanding, their occasional misbehavior does not threaten us. Our confidence in our own identity provides us with the assurance that all is not lost.

“This principle extends to marriage, the work place, and all areas of life. When we possess a clear sense of self and purpose, our actions speak louder than words, and the world recognizes and respects our intentions without the need for vocal assertion.

“This truth holds even at the national level, particularly in Israel’s interactions with its adversaries. When the nation of Israel remains true to its core values and confidently embraces its identity as a light unto the nations, it commands respect and maintains a strong deterrence.”

* Translated by Yehoshua Siskin, Janine Muller Sherr


Sivan Rahav Meir is a primetime news anchor on television and radio. Her “Daily Thought,” translated into 17 languages, has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. She has a weekly podcast on Tablet, called “Sivan Says,” and has published several books In Hebrew and English. Sivan was chosen by Globes newspaper as Israel’s most popular female media figure and by the Jerusalem Post as one of the 50 most influential Jews worldwide. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband Yedidya and their five children.

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