"Why", she asked, "was the symbol of Israel's tourism the spies who brought the giant grapes back to the Israelites in the desert?"
"It's a negative symbol," she said.
I had never thought of that before. I always had looked with pride on the magnificent fruit of Israel, and wished that grapes were once again the size of plums. But then again, we've got the yummiest plums here, so I guess we don't need mammoth grapes.
Later, we took at Torah Tidbits and tried to unravel Phil Chernofsky's often fun, usually challenging, sometimes quirky Parsha Pix puzzle, and we saw that Phil asked the exact same question. (Great minds...) "Why would the Ministry of Tourism want to be represented by 'tourists' who bad-mouthed the Land and greatly discouraged Aliya?"
This question could probably be the subject of an entire psychological thesis on the State of Israel, its lowly and degraded self-image ("...we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight") Numbers 13:33 , but that would have to be the subject of yet a different blog.
My daughter and Torah Tidbits brilliant editor Phil Chernofsky convinced me that Israel needs a new logo for its tourism ministry. It needs something positive, something with vision, something inspirational.
The golden menorah? That would be perfect for our national symbol. It represents the goal to which we, as a nation, should strive - the day when our Holy Temple will be rebuilt, BE"H, and our kohanim (priests) once again perform the Temple Service of sacrifices, and kindle the spices altar and the Golden Menorah.
A Jewish star? This is the land of the Jewish people, given to us by Hashem as an eternal inheritance. Our national mission is to live Jewish lives in this Land, keeping the mitzvot (commandments) that were gifted only to the Jewish nation, and live lives that would be a light unto the rest of the peoples of the world. Today more than half the Jews of the world live in the Land of Israel. It's time to acknowledge that fact.
What about the Lion of Judah? Yes, I know that the lion is the symbol of Jerusalem, but then again, Jerusalem is the heart of Israel - indeed, the heart of the world. And although Judah is only one of the tribes, it is the tribe of our past and future kings.
These may or may not be the perfect logos for Israeli Tourism, but a symbol of the original 'tourists' who tried to deter millions of people from entering the land of Israel, condemning them to remain in Galut (exile) for yet another 40 years, is not the positive optimistic encouraging logo that Israel deserves.