Here are some excerpts from his letter to the Jewish Center community:
"As you know from my public and private talks, my personal connection to Israel is visceral and heartfelt. In truth, it would be difficult for any Jew with any level of historical consciousness not to be emotionally connected to Israel. Defying all historical probabilities, our people have returned to our homeland and, as such, we who live today have the duty and the privilege of playing a role in the Jewish story and advancing our people's historic destiny. This past year, living in Israel as a resident instead of visiting as a tourist, has given me new insight into the issues and challenges that Israel confronts. And there are many. But even though Israel is not always an easy place, never a simple place, certainly a complicated place, it is still our place. The rhythm of life, the face of the public square, the culture and undercurrents of society are all rooted in our tradition and heritage. Raising a family in Israel comes with a very different set of challenges than living in the Diaspora, but it also carries with it a very different set of rewards. Before The Jewish Center offered me the opportunity to spend a year of study in Israel, I mentioned to our leadership that it might be difficult for me to leave Israel. I knew that my connection to Israel would only intensify and that the opportunity to raise my children in Israel might be too difficult to let pass.
When I think of the land of our fathers and mothers, my focus naturally shifts to my sons and daughter, and my hope that they will learn to see Israel as not just their homeland but also as their home."When you read/hear the story of the spies in this week's parasha, remember the Zohar's commentary:
The Zohar asks, how could the Israelite spies from the desert, who were such great leaders of Israel, speak such slander about the promised land?
The answer is frightening.
The Zohar writes that the spies realized that if Bnei Yisrael would cross the Jordan immediately after the spies' return from their mission (which was the correct game plan), then the Beit HaMikdash would be built and a king would be anointed. There would be no destruction of the Temples, no Exiles, No terrible periods of tragedy for the Jewish people -- rather we would have immediately entered the period of ultimate geula.
So what was the downside? The spies figured out that upon the anointment of a Jewish king, their leadership roles would disappear. In order to hang on to their political positions of power, they sacrificed the Jewish people for 38 more years in the desert, the destruction of 2 Temples, 2 periods of exile, and the deaths of countless Jews throughout the ages.
According to the midrash, not only did the spies make their announcement to all of Israel, but they went from tent to tent to personally spread their message of gloom and doom if Israel would enter the promised land of Eretz Yisrael.
You too can correct the misdeeds of the spies -- and help spread the positive message of Eretz Yisrael to your family and friends.
--Jameel & Co.
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד