Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Korach
To dedicate this lesson

To “Go Up” or Not Go Up, and the Land of Milk and Honey

What is the significance of Eretz Yisrael being called flowing with milk and honey? This is the sign of agricultural blossoming in Eretz Yisrael.


Rabbi Yossef Carmel

Sivan 27 5781
Central recurring terms come up in this week’s parasha as they did in last – "Na’aleh" (we shall go up) and "Lo na’aleh" (we shall not go up). Each time there is a group in favor and a group against. Kalev and Yehoshua strongly recommended to go up to the Land, whereas the other ten spies warned not to go up. Then the ma’aplim insisted to go up to the Land when Hashem forbade it, and Moshe said "do not go up."

In this week’s parasha, Moshe invited those inciting against him to a discussion with him. Datan and Aviram said: "Lo na’aleh" (Bamidbar 16:12). They continued: "Is it not enough that you brought us up from a land that is flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert? … and you did not bring us to a land flowing with milk and honey" (ibid. 13-14).

Another critical term is – "a land flowing with milk and honey." This is how Hashem referred to the future Eretz Yisrael from the time of the burning bush (Shemot 3:8). (Most commentaries explain that the honey is the oozing sweetness of the fruit.) In their chutzpa, Datan and Aviram used the term to refer to Egypt, thus connecting themselves to the ten evil spies.

What is the significance of Eretz Yisrael being called flowing with milk and honey? Yeshayahu used milk and honey as a sign of great bounty for the survivors of the destruction by the Assyrians at the time of Chizkiyahu (Yeshayahu 7: 14-22). This is the sign of agricultural blossoming in Eretz Yisrael. Many other prophets used similar imagery (see Yoel 4:18; Amos 9:13-14; Yirmiyahu 31:4-7; Yechezkel 36:8-10). Based on such prophecies, Chazal taught that successful agriculture in the Land is the greatest sign of the approaching times of Mashiach (Sanhedrin 98a). Therefore, Datan and Aviram not only raised complaints against Moshe’s leadership but also against the prophecies of liberation about the nation’s populace sitting under grape vines and fig trees, and the return to a productive Eretz Yisrael after a period of exile.

Our generations have merited to counteract the sin of the spies and of Datan and Aviram. Am Yisrael has returned to Eretz Yisrael, which has greeted us with its milk and honey. The connection between Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael is supernatural. While from an intellectual, rational perspective, the ten spies and Datan and Aviram might have been right, we are believers, who follow the approaches of Moshe Rabbeinu and his disciples, Yehoshua and Kalev. With all the wonder and divine kindness involved, the situation on "the ground" supports these beliefs and prophecies.

Let us give two of many examples. 1. His time’s greatest Jewish demographer, Shimon Dubnow, predicted in 1898 that in 1998 there would be about half a million Jews in Eretz Yisrael, without a state that would be internationally recognized or having their national aspirations fulfilled, and they would live only with the help of Diaspora Jews. Obviously he was far off. 2. Seth Siegel, the American expert on world water supply, wrote more recently that Israeli technologies in the field of water and irrigation are the key to improving the lives of 4 billion people worldwide. Indeed, more than 150 countries use Israeli technologies.

In summary, Moshe is truthful and his Torah is truthful. "Let us go up."
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר