Friday, July 27, 2018

Eretz Yisrael ... The Land of Israel ...

by Rabbi Shmuel Knopfler

The people of Israel & The Land of Israel stand in unique unity. One cannot be separated from the other. For the Christian there is no one single land that lies at the center of his aspirations & imposes religious obligation to dwell there. 
For the Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu there is no one particular country that is set aside, not only as a sacred place to which to journey but also, as a mandatory place in which to live. The Jew, as in so many other things, is different.

Despite all attempts by those who have reformed Judaism in so many other ways, to change, mutilate, bury & ignore it, the fact remains that for the Jewish people & the Jewish faith from its very beginnings Eretz Yisrael, The Land of Israel, has remained central to Judaism as a place where a Jew was commanded to live, and a home to which he looked in agonizing longing during centuries & ages of pain as well as

The shouts of outrage from assimilated Jewish leaders do not matter. No one can deny that Hashem told Avraham "And I shall give you & your seed after you all The Land of Canaan for an everlasting heritage." 

The angry gnashing of teeth of those who speak of American as being "different" & not really Galut (Exile), but "Tfutzot" (Diaspora) pales into irrelevance before the fact that there is a clear Biblical Mitzvah "And you shall settle in it (The Land) a thing that causes the Rabbis to declare that the settlement in Israelis "equal to all the Mitzvos of the Torah" (Sifre Re'eh 60). 

All the denials & self assurances will not wipe away the fact that the Torah could think of no greater punishment of the Jew than Exile from his land. The Torah is filled with innumerable admonitions that violations of Torah commandments would bring Exile from The Land of Israel. "And Hashem will scatter you among the peoples & you shall be left few in number among the nations whither Hashem shall lead you away." 
And twice in the Chumash does the Jew read, yearly, in hushed tones & swiftly (lest the pain be too overwhelming) the Tochacha or criticism which warns of that most dreaded of all curses ... Exile from the Jewish Land. "And Hashem shall scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth into the other end of the earth ..."

Exile ... even to the most temporarily beautiful of all lands ...
has always been, for the Jew, a curse. It remains so.

It is only The Land of Israel that is held up to us as the blessing on our heads. 
"It is better to lodge in the deserts of Israel than in the palaces of other countries," state the Rabbis.
 "A man should forever live in The Land of Israel, even in a city that has a majority of gentiles rather than live outside of The Land of Israel with a majority of Jews for who lives in The Land of Israel is considered as having Hashem, while outside the Land is considered as not having Hashem."

To go to The Land of Israel you will find the Rabbis permitting leniency in certain Shabbat prohibitions & giving the wife grounds for divorce of a husband reluctant to go there to live with her. The religious obligation of a Jew to go live in The Land of Israel is clear & unchallengeable despite the denials & anger.

But it is more than mere religious obligation for the Jew. The reality of impossibility of permanent immunity from gentile hostility; the reality of Pogroms, Crusades, Inquisitions, humiliation, discrimination, tension & gas chambers, all led to a deep yearning & an instinctive understanding of the uniqueness of The Land as the sole solution to the Jewish agony & a deep Jewish yearning for it that became a passion & an obsession.

For two thousand years they bombarded his Maker with pleas, entreaties,  tears, promises, repentance, threats, recriminations & yet more tears. Home ... was his was his persistent and nagging plea to his Maker. 
When shall we be allowed to go Home?

Even Hashem can endure just so much. The unceasing persistence of a Jew can even wear down Omnipotence & at last He consented. 

In a drama unrivaled in the history of Man, a people that had begun its long journey into Exile twenty centuries earlier, Returned. The maddening patience was blessed, the unshakable memory of the hills of Judea was rewarded by return to their barren & rocky slopes. The mind boggles.

Can one really grasp the magnificence & the impossibility of it all?
Can one appreciate our fortune in having ... for some inexplicable reason ... been chosen as the generation to behold that which all the prophets of old never saw?

The return os a scattered, weak, contemptible, governmentless & defenseless people to a Land it had left at a time when most modern day people were attaining the cultural level of swineherders in dark & dank backwardness.

The rebirth of a language that moved from the petrified atmosphere of library & study hall into the streets, laboratories, jet fighter planes & start-up computer language of today.

The clear & unmistakable fulfillment of prophecy; the miraculous realization of vision. For thus did the Jewish seers & visionaries of old speak as the Divine hand touched them.

"Thus says Hashem: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are not. Restrain your voice from weeping, your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says Hashem; and they shall come back from the land of their enemy." (Jeremiah 31)

"Then He said unto me: 'Prophesy over these bones, and say unto them: 
O you dry bones, hear the word of Hashem:
Thus says Hashem unto these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live."

"Therefore prophesy, and say unto them: Thus says Hashem: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37)

"But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to My people Israel; for they are at hand to come." (Ezekiel 36:8)

Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 88a discusses this verse as a sign for redemption of Israel.

Rashi explains: "When Eretz Yisrael will produce its fruits in an abundant manner & fine quality that is an uncontested sign for the redemption of The Jewish People."

Words spoken millenia ago; visions dreamed & dreams envisioned. Today they have come true. Indeed, there can no longer exist atheists among us ... only men who are blind.

To quote David ben Gurion;
"In Israel, to be a realist, you must believe in miracles".

בברכת התורה והארץ‎

שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם

B'Birchat Hatorah V'Haaretz

Shabbat Shalom

1 comment:

Frum but normal said...

But but according to the anti-semitic manifesto "VAYOEL MOSHE" this has nothing to do with HASHEM but is all the work of the devil (sitra achra)