Furthermore, the night of the missleading report was the 9th of Av. God was so disgusted with the unwarranted tears of unfounded fears that He decreed that in the future, the 9th of Av was to be a date of real crying. It would be the date on which Jerusalem would twice be destroyed and the Children of Israel would be exiled for millennia.
So false messaging, fear mongering, and the broadcasting of doubt, brought down a generation and led to the Jewish people’s worst tragedies. The Israelites were about to enter the land, but were instead sentenced to a 40-year desert death march and destined to endure a long and painful exile. A missed opportunity if there ever was one.
But now, our generation has the ability to rectify. We are ingathering and broadcasting at the same time. We have a second chance to take up the land of Israel and to harness the power of communication – this time to encourage, empower, vivify, and enliven!
As I was writing this article, my neighbor Rabbi Avishai Tzruya showed me this quote from Rabbi Shlomo Yissachar Teichtal’s famous Holocaust-era treatise, Eim Habanim Semeichah: “The generation of the spies united the entire congregation against the Land of Israel and put a great deal of effort into propaganda. They established an entire propaganda organization – what we would call today a propaganda department – which organized people to convince others to oppose the Land of Israel. Similarly, we must establish a propaganda apparatus which will permeate every Jewish home and try to convince every Jewish soul to support the Land of Israel.”
And so, here is my challenge to our nation, individually and collectively: in order to repair what has been damaged, we must take the harmful actions of the 10 Spies, and turn them around. Instead of doling out slanderous speech against the Land of Israel, we will refrain from negative portrayals of the land or the life in Israel, we will avoid fear-mongering, we will not accept “dibat HaAretz” – defamatory speech about Israel, and we will stress the positive. We will actively search out and hype positive experiences, stories, places and individuals. We shall promote positivity.
And we will do all this on exactly the same days on which the spies conducted their ill-fated mission.
Starting on the date on which the spies left the encampment, the 29th of Sivan (this year it falls out on 18th of June at night) and for 40 days until the date of the bad report, the 9th of Av, we will rectify the sin of the Spies.
This is a speaking diet, designed to cleanse us from the false paradigm the media, and our own Jewish cantankerousness, have fashioned. It need not bleed to lead. We cannot ask CNN to stop bashing us if we are going to do it in our own outlets and around our own dinner tables. If we are to be a light unto the nations, then let us broadcast light. By challenging ourselves to amend our speech we can help close a wound that wants to heal after two-thousand years of pain. And by speaking well of the land of Israel, we will melt all the fears and the doubts that fill our hearts today and we will ignite a burning desire in our nation to fall in love with our homeland, and to finally make it our home.