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    Let the wilderness rejoice – B’midbar

    map_israelShabbat B’midbar reminds us of the prophet’s words, “Let the wilderness and its cities rejoice” (Isa. 42:11).

    A wilderness rejoicing? Surely not. By definition, a wilderness is crude and cruel, and no-one would really want to live there.

    But if we take the word “wilderness” metaphorically – representing the people of Israel – we come to a different conclusion.

    The prophet Isaiah is comforting Israel. Israel has suffered so much that it feels bereft, bothered and bewildered.

    But the people that knew darkness and despair is being told that its future is assured, that it will still find joy in life, and the darkness will vanish and be replaced by light and happiness.

    In our day, history has seen the prophecy come true, and the State of Israel is one of the happiest places on earth. Repeated studies have found that more than most nations, the people of Israel are high up on the global happiness scale.

    The voices that call for Israel’s dismantling ought to be jealous. If only their own people had something of the Israeli spirit!

    Two things have brought about Israel’s emotional and psychological triumph – our God, and our own spirit.

    The hostile winds of criticism might howl, the acid tongues of criticism might shoot their barbs, but the erstwhile wilderness has become an oasis.

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