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Sunday, May 25, 2008


"I will remember My covenant with Jacob and even My covenant with Isaac, and even My covenant with Abraham will I remember, and I will remember the Land." (Vayikra 26;42)

In this week's parsha there is a long list of ultra-scary curses that G-d vows to bring upon us if we neglect His Torah. At the end of these awful passages promising exile comes a verse that is meant to give us solace. G-d promises to bring us back from the Exile in the merit of the forefathers and the merit of the Land. But why would G-d include in His list of the Patriarchs a special mention of the Land of Israel? Why did He not include other mitzvot He might remember, like: 'I will remember Jacob and his Tefillin, Issac and his Tzitit, and Abraham and his Etrog'?

In this iPod generation it is easy to believe that the world is here for our convenience. Everything is quick, easy and on demand. Through this attitude we may come to the false conclusion that the Land of Israel is our own little iLand, a personalized tool for our use. We may begin to treat the Land as merely a Cheftza, that is, a religious object like tefillin, tzitit, and etrog to be used and then put away when done, or even disposed of when it wears out...

This utilitarian thinking is actually a wide-reaching phenomenon. For example: Secular Post-Zionism is the belief that a few years ago we needed a safe haven from persecution and therefore we created a Jewish state; but now that we are well-off and safe from persecution we can scrap the state - it's boring, and anyway we can simply live in peace and harmony in the US, a very nice place indeed. We have used up the Land of Israel and now it's time to move on, to SKIP to the next song, to throw away this paper cup.

Religious Post-Zionism, that is, Orthodox Jewry outside of Israel, is just as utilitarian. Says the religious post-Zionist: "Sure there are Mitzvot connected to the Land of Israel and that's why I come to Israel now and then. It's there for my religious convenience. Now I would like to hit a button on my iLand and play the Israel song for a ten-day trip. On the trip I will pray at the Kotel, give some charity to the needy, and walk around Jerusalem like I own the place. When I'm satiated in my religious observance, I hit STOP on the iLand and I go back HOME."

These attitudes are reasonable symptoms of mistaken initial assumptions. In this week's Torah portion, Hashem tells us that the Land of Israel is not just a mitzvah or religious tool. The Torah equates the Land to the Forefathers and tells us that G-d's particular remembrance for the Land is amongst the merits that will yank us out of the Exile. But what is this merit? Why does G-d remember the Land?

When G-d created the world, he created the Land of Israel as a special entity – a land that has feelings and a personality, a land that is sensitive to how she is treated, and sensitive to how her inhabitants behave!

"And you, I will scatter among the nations, I will unsheathe the sword after you; your land will be desolate and your cities will be a ruin. Then the land will be appeased for its sabbaticals during all the years of its desolation, while you are in the land of your enemies; then the land will rest and it will appease for its sabbaticals. All the years of its desolation it will rest, whatever it did not rest during your sabbaticals when you dwelled upon her." (Vayikra 26, 33-35)

If we Jews are bad, the Land will evict us, if we Jews don't keep the Sabbaths including the Shmittah year, the Land will vomit us out. However, when we call out to G-d from the Exile, the merit of the Land, this entity which loves the Jewish people, this special being that only flourishes when the Jewish people are with her, helps convince G-d that indeed it is time to bring us home.

Once we understand that the Land has her own personality and that she has a relationship with Hashem, we become much more careful as to how we treat her. We will not litter our Land because it offends her, we do not speak ill of the Land because it hurts her feelings. Moreover, once we comprehend that our Land is our unique friend and partner, we stop treating the Land as some personal i-device that we turn on and off at our whim. Instead, we embrace her, we cultivate her, we protect her, and we honor her. Our Forefathers knew that the Land of Israel is a gift; let us also not take her for granted.

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  • At 7:55 AM , Blogger Edward F. Villa said...

    Shalom Shalom Dear Yishai,

    First off, i want to THANK YOU so much for the Kiddush HaShem you do with all your work! You not only inspire your very, very good and holy people, Israel- but you bring such a illumination and warm blessing to this non-jew - What an utter blessing it is to read and hear your work! Keep up the extraordinary, motivational and enlightening work!

    With my limited understanding of Jewish history, heritage and people/nationhood -Torah and Tanakh- I can only say so much...

    But here it goes! I hope it is well!

    As a non-Jewish , Pro Israel , Pro Jewish supporter *trying to look inside and make sense of what is going on in Eretz Israel , Klal Israel (people of Israel?) - I can't help to think
    as to - Why isn't there more Jewish People making Aliyah? I mean, i understand there are some secular, and even, sadly to say- assimilated- Jewish people- but among the orthodox, observant - Why inst there that strong urge and strengthening bond, love for Israel and their brethren - that are under such distress and attack? If i am not mistaken, isn't Israel mentioned in practically all Jewish Prayers? It just doesn't make sense , really doesn't at times - at all- to me, Yishai..

    I believe, in my humble opinion, that the sooner the Jewish people WAKE UP and see all their unique and special blessings that can only be fulfilled by living in Eretz Israel - The sooner they will they not only Redeem themselves , but all those that cling unto them and the Eternal Hope and Promises made by your Living, Real and Eternal G-d, L-rd of Israel !

    I also believe that the sooner the very, very good and blessed people of G-d, The L-rd of Israel take a deep, introspective and *appreciative look at what they have as their heritage, history and destiny - the sooner they will be Mightily and assuredly blessed by their loving and Eternal Father in Heaven - and be the Light unto the Nations they are! I like to think it is only a matter of time - but it also - is in your hands- How much do you, The Good, Blessed and Holy People of G-d, want The Final, Ultimate Redemption???

    Regardless- I want to wish you and your people , Yishai- All the blessings, nachas (joy), Chazak (strength) and love - love for The Land and People of Israel ! May you all grow from His strength to His strength and may we all merit the building of the Third Holy Temple and the Final and Ultimate Redemption!

    Thankfully, sincerely and G-d bless you and your lovely people - always-

    your friend,



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