Parshat Eikev – Seeing past the pulp

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“For G-d, your G-d is bringing you to a good land. A land with streams of water, of springs and underground water that flows into valleys and mountains a land of wheat and barley, vines, figs and pomegranates, a land of oil producing olives and honey a land in which you will eat bread without poverty and lack nothing in it…” Devarim 8:8

I remember when I first brought Batya back to New Jersey to meet my family and friends 21 years ago. It was July 4th weekend. The English date of our Aliyah 14 years later. I already knew when I brought her home that this was the one. And the crazy thing was, everybody else knew also. This was my soul-mate. Rabbi David Aaron has a beautiful teaching that contrasts the love of your soul-mate with the connection that we have with the Land of Israel.
Before the Jewish people began returning home starting in the beginning of the last century, The Land was an arid desolate wasteland. However, when the Jewish People came home, the Land blossomed. Says Rabbi Aaron, “How do you know when you are with your true soul-mate? Because in their presence you blossom.”
We are beginning an Inward Bound trip this coming week. People ask me why I do what I do. Simply put, I want to relieve that experience. Introducing people to my soul mate. The Land of Israel. It is here in these hills that I feel like I too beneath my grape vines, fig tree and pomegranate three that I feel am really blossoming.
Yesterday I read a beautiful teaching on the seven species from the Holy Lubavitcher Rebbe zt’l. It came alive as I sat outside on my back porch staring at the grape vines and pomegranates. According to the Rebbe grapes equal joy, and joy equals revelation, as the grapevine describes its product in Yotam’s Parable (Judges 9:13), “…my wine, which makes joyous G-d and men.” . A joyous person has the same capacities like intelligence, knowledge and desires that he would in a non-joyous state, only in a state of joy, it is so much more pronounced, vivid. Things are so much clearer when we are filled with joy. Our souls are so deep, our lives may be so rich, but without joy, we can do every mitzvah at the right time in the right order, but never truly be touched, never get the color, the depth or the intensity that life has to offer.
The Pomegranate represents hypocrisy in its most noblest form says the Rebbe. Your lips are like a thread of scarlet, your mouth is comely; your temple is like a piece of pomegranate within your locks” (Song of Songs, 4:3). According to the Gemora, the allegory of the pomegranate expresses the truth that, “Even the empty ones amongst you are full of good deeds as a pomegranate” [is full of seeds]. A pomegranate compartmentalizes its sweetness. Each juicy seed is in its own little compartment of pulp, separated from the whole.

You hear so much about this division in Israel between the secular and the religious. I am not saying it doesn’t exist, but halavi some of our religious brothers and sisters should be as connected to G-d and the Land as are so called secular brethren in Israel. It is so easy to see the bad, and there seems to be such a pull towards looking at the negative.

This past week we took a family vacation to Netanya, the beautiful Mediterranean beach resort town north of Tel Aviv. The week after Tisha b’Av, mamash the whole country goes on vacation. It was packed!

It was so good to see so many Jews from every conceivable background in one place, unafraid and so filled with joy. Everyone was so happy. Happy to be Jews, thrilled to be living in the Land of Israel and seeing the sweetness past the worthless “pulp” that separates us.
May we all be blessed to come home soon to Eretz Yisrael, soon and to taste her fruit, experience the joy and the sweetness of watching the Land bloom as you bloom right along side of her. Your true soul-mate.

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