Tuesday, April 15, 2008

THe Land of Your Possession by Rabbi David Algaze - I love it


Thank you Evelyn Haze for forwarding to me!  This is also a message for those living in Eretz Yisroel.  Unfortunately, many times, those that have sacrificed it all to live in Eretz Yisroel are harsh on us nebechs here in Chutz Laaretz for not making Aliya or even if we did make Aliya, for remaining in the Golus.  Some go as far as to say, when you make Aliya, then you can speak up.   Your voice is not important, your body is. 

This distinction, this holier than thou attitude can have many negative consequences.  The biggest problem is that it gives an excuse to the one living in the Diaspora not to speak up and to remain Silent regarding claiming Eretz Yisroel.  They say, even though I feel terrible about the events in Israel, what right do I have to speak up.  My children don't fight in the army.  We haven't made the sacrifices of Israeli citizens.  This attitude strengthens the divide of Jew vs. Israeli. 

Our rights to Eretz Yisroel is because we are the seed of Avraham Yitzchok and Yaakov.  The  entitlement of a Jew in the Diaspora is no different and not less than the Israeli citizen.

Hashem is waiting for each and every Jew to claim Eretz Yisroel as a necessary component of their Judaism.  Collectively we are lacking when the majority of Jews do not see relevance of Eretz Yisroel to the practice of Torah and Mitzvoth.  This is why I believe we were collectively undeserving to keep Gush Katif. The settlers themselves are the most worthy people in the world.  Because if there would have been an outroar of the Jews in the Diaspora as to how can you give away OUR Land and how can we be Silent in the Diaspora as talks of giving away Judea and Samaria and Yerushalayim are taking place it shows that we don't yearn or long for Eretz Yisroell as we should and we don't really believe that it is ours or that we are truly entitled.   Because if we truly believed it is our precious gift, we would fight tooth and nail to keep our precious gift.

Please forward.


By Rabbi David Algaze

"When you arrive in the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I will place a tzara'at affliction upon a house in the land of your possession" (Vayikra 14:34)

The lesions that appear on people's skin, called tzara'at, are afflictions of the soul and are an indication that the person so affected is in reality suffering from a spiritual malaise and is in need of reflection and atonement.  When the same lesions appear on people's houses, itself a supernatural occurrence, a similar sign beckoning the sufferer to repent is created.  Maimonides explains that G-d first punishes a person's property and then, if the person does not pay heed and repent, then G-d afflicts the body.

Why does the law apply only in the land of Israel, as it says "in the land of your possession"?  The Ramban (Nachmanides) explains that this miraculous phenomenon could only occur in the Holy Land, where by virtue of its special nature, G-d's presence and actions could be easily experienced. Since the land possesses such high spiritual qualities, any spiritual flaw is immediately detected and revealed in the state of the land.

The Midrash explains this phenomenon in a radically different way. The function of these lesions appearing as stains on the walls of houses was to reveal the places where the Canaanites had hidden their treasures prior to the invasion by Israel. In His kindness, G-d places an affliction on that spot in the wall where the inhabitants concealed their jewels and thus the Israelites would benefit from those treasures. This explanation makes the 'afflictions' a source of blessing to the owners of those homes and forms part of G-d's participation in the inheriting of the Land by the people of Israel.

This clarifies why the emphasis of the verse on the fact that Israel is the "land of your possession." We have seen the beneficial consequences of the tzara'at lesions for the improvement of a person's spiritual life. Now, we can appreciate G-d's love towards Israel in giving us the land and all the treasures contained in it. From the inception of our history, starting with Abraham, G-d planned that the people of Israel reside in the special land called Canaan and later Israel so that the combination of the spiritual forces of both would result in   a greater light that will illuminate the Universe with more intensity.

Many think that the relationship of the people of Israel to its land is similar to the connection of any nation to its birthplace. Other nations are connected to their ancestral land by virtue of their past or as a vehicle for their national life. Israel, however, is connected to the land by spiritual bonds that transcend history. Even if the people of Israel are away from their land, the land never relates to any other nation and the land awaits its legitimate children, the Jews, forever.  Rav Kook writes, "The land of Israel is not something external to the Jewish nation. Otherwise, one could replace this land with any other, especially with places that are less contested and less dangerous and richer in natural resources. The land of Israel is an organic whole that is deeply connected with the life of the nation and related to its inner existence." (Orot) This emphasis on the "whole" reveals that one cannot distinguish between various parts of the land, that the entire land of Israel possesses a special spiritual quality and that that land is to be the possession of one nation only, the people of Israel.  Our connection to the land does not depend on whether we are there or not, on whether we are the majority of the population or not. This is something the non-Jewish and non-Torah world cannot comprehend.

Rav Shlomo Halevi Alcabetz, author of the Lecha Dodi, writes that our right of the land does not stem from our physical presence there nor is its spiritual energy diminished because we are away. Thus, the possession of the land and our spiritual existence have been bound together from the beginning and this bond will never be severed because that bond is supernatural. When we draw lines and borders between different parts of the land, when we want to keep Tel Aviv or Haifa but are ready to give up Beth Lehem and Hevron, where our history began, we are in fact denying this miraculous bond to the entire land of Israel. It is ironic that, precisely at the time that some Jews are prepared to relinquish parts of the land to others, in that very moment some voices are raised to deny completely the legitimacy of the State of Israel, the unacceptability of the Zionist enterprise and even the historical connection of Israel to this land. However, this phenomenon can be perfectly understood if we appreciate the integrity of Israel's connection to the land. Either it is our land or not, either it is our possession or not. Once we are ready to give away parts of the land, it sends a signal to the world that we are not the real possessors of this land. The world perceives in our readiness to sever our spiritual link with the land, that this land is not ours. This is the reason for the appearance of an intense anti-Israel attitude in the world and the vociferous hostility by our enemies in denying our right to the land.

Throughout our history, the people of Israel knew how to resist attacks on our heritage and history. Our ancestors gave up their lives to insure that our traditions and our Torah did not disappear. Their sacrifices in very dangerous times were very great and they knew when to draw 'red lines' that they were not prepared to cross. Nothing less is demanded of us today. The Torah emphasizes that this land is "for our possession" and is called "the land of your possession." We only ignore these words at our great peril.  As Nachmanides writes concerning the redemption of lands in Israel, "This land cannot be sold in perpetuity, because it is not only yours, you are just residents and transients with Me, for the land belongs to Him and we are just residents alongside Him, and He does not want other nations to settle there except us, to us alone it belongs and to us it will return." These prophetic words were written at the beginning of the 13th century. It would be absurd that in our century, after witnessing so many miracles in the Land, anyone should be prepared to reject the words of this great giant of Torah and betray the sacrifices and dreams of our ancestors.

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