In this week’s parsha, the Meraglim travel into Eretz Yisrael to scout out the land and come back with a negative report. As is usually the case, their negative experience was a result of their perspective – having chosen what they wanted to see, the Meraglim were unable to recognize the tremendous blessings of the land as expressed in Yehoshua and Kalev’s report. Rashi tells us that in order to allow the scouts to tour the land without challenge from the current inhabitants, Hashem performed a miracle on their behalf, causing many people to die so that they would all be preoccupied with funerals on that day. Instead of recognizing this great kindness, the Meraglim, looking through the clouded glasses of their pessimism, saw “a land that devours its inhabitants.”

Basing himself on the assumption that, if the negative statements of the Meraglim about the Holy Land were recorded in Toras Emes, there must be some kernel of truth hidden within them, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov zy”a teaches us the deeper meaning hidden within these words. The tzaddik reveals that although the declaration of the Meraglim, “It is a land that devours its inhabitants,” was certainly made with a negative intention, there is an exceedingly positive truth concealed beneath the surface of these words.

When a human being eats a meal, the various nutrients of the food, such as proteins and carbohydrates, are broken down by various enzymes into molecules small enough to nourish the cells of the body in a process called absorption. In this way, the food we eat becomes part and parcel of our very being, granting us a variation on the phrase “You are what you eat”; “What you eat becomes part of what you are.” Rebbe Nachman teaches that a similar process takes place when a Jew enters Eretz Yisrael. Chazal tell us, “Whoever enters the Land, it is considered as if he has a God”; Eretz Yisrael is a land of faith. Its air makes one wise, every four steps is a mitzvah. When a Jew merits to live in Eretz Yisrael and has faith in the great spiritual effect this has on his life, he becomes part and parcel of the Holy Land, an “Eretz Yisraeldik’e yid”.

This, explains Rebbe Nachman, is the deeper meaning hidden behind the apparently negative statement of the Meraglim, “It is a land that devours its inhabitants.” In truth, Eretz Yisrael is indeed a land that devours its inhabitants, and this is an exceedingly positive thing! Just like food devoured by a human becomes part and parcel of his very being, so too Eretz Yisrael has the awesome power to turn those Jews who merit to live or even visit there into a piece of the Holy Land. What a blessing it is to have access to the Land that devours its inhabitants! May all members of our holy nation merit to be eaten up by the Land and transformed into “Eretz Yisraeldik’e yidden” with the coming of Moshiach, speedily and in our days!

As a land that devours its inhabitants, Eretz Yisroel has the ability to “consume” the Jews living there and turn them into a piece of the land – infusing them with its unimaginable holiness.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
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R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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