This Monday is a very important day in the calendar. This Monday is Tu B’Av. The 15th of Av. On the 15th of Av we commemorate a number of events that took place in our history, and it is closely related to marriage and love.
In Israel Tu B’Av is celebrated by many Israelis as a form of Valentine’s Day. People will be giving their loved ones gifts and chocolates.
But there is another aspect to the significance of Tu B’Av. This Monday, Tu B’Av, is the first marker of the upcoming shemitta year. Tu B’Av is the first time one has to be concerned with shemitta. It is the cutoff date for planting new fruit trees. After Monday, in Israel, one can no longer plant fruit trees, until after the shemitta year is over.
In this week’s parsha, we read about how Moshe pleaded and prayed to Hashem to have his punishment rescinded. We know he was not allowed into Eretz Yisrael due to his having struck the rock rather than speaking to it. This was a terrible punishment for Moshe. He so desired to get into Eretz Yisrael that he tried everything he could to get Hashem to change his mind.
So he davens to Hashem. He says, “אֶעְבְּרָה-נָּא, וְאֶרְאֶה אֶת-הָאָרֶץ הַטּוֹבָה, אֲשֶׁר, בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן: הָהָר הַטּוֹב הַזֶּה, וְהַלְּבָנֹן.” Let me cross the Jordan and see the good land, the mountains and the Levanon, referring to the Beis Hamikdash… But Hashem said “No. and I have had enough of this. I do not want to hear anymore”
Many of the meforshim say that Moshe did not just want to go into Eretz Yisrael. He desired to go in because of the Mitzvos Ha’Tluyos Ba’Aretz. The special mitzvos that only apply in the Land of Israel. Moshe knew he would never have an opportunity to fulfill these, as he would not be going in. He pleaded with Hashem to let him in so he could have such an opportunity. These mitzvos are a nice chunk of the 613, and he did not want to be deprived of the opportunity of keeping shemitta, and giving trumah and maser, leaving peah and the rest of them…
That is a wonderful explanation of the passuk. But I think there is also something to the simple reading of the passuk. The passuk tells us how Moshe wanted to go in and see the Land. He wanted to see yerushalayim, see the Mikdash, see its goodness. He wanted to tour Israel. He just spent 40 years in the desert leading the Jews to Israel, constantly telling them how good the Land is. He desired to actually see it. This was his goal for the past 40 years.
Moshe wanted to sign up for a Birthright trip, or join a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight, or even just to go in and go touring for a few days. He wanted to live in Eretz Yisrael, and of he could not then at least he should be able to see Eretz Yisrael.
A Jew might have great reasons for living in Chutz La’Aretz. But he should at least desire to live in eretz Yisrael, and if that is not feasible, then he should at least try to visit Eretz Yisrael. Even if he cannot, as Moshe could not, he should still make it his goal and objective. It should be at the forefront of his thoughts. He should do everything in his power to make it happen.
Tu B’Av is a good day to begin thinking about Eretz Yisrael, whether moving there or even just to come and visit. Tu B’Av is the first marker of shemitta. Think on Tu B’Av about all the mitzvos you cannot keep while living outside of Israel and how you really should be in Eretz Yisael. Think about how you should come for a visit and plan your aliya, even if right now you cannot do it. Make it a goal, or at least a consideration.