Monday, November 22, 2010

Divrei Torah October 1976

The Magazine of the Authentic Jewish Idea
Sukkoth Issue    Tishrei 5737  -  October 1976


               “And the L-rd said unto Jacob:  Return unto the land of your fathers and your birthplace (the Land of Israel) and I will be with you.”  (Genesis 31:3)
            Comments the Midrash (Bereshit Rabah):  I will be with you there – in Israel.  But so long as you remain rooted to impurity (the exile) it is impossible for my Divine Presence to be upon you.”
         Similarly, we find the thought in regard to Abraham: “And I will give unto you and your seed after you the land in which you dwell, all the Land of Canaan, as an eternal inheritance and I will be for them G-d.” (Genesis 17:8)
          Comments Rashi: “And there I will be for them G-d but the one who dwells outside the land is as one who has no G-d.”
        And the same thought is found in the case of  David” “For they have driven me out this day that I should not cleave unto the inheritance of the L-rd, saying: go serve other gods.” (Samuel1,26:19)
         Comments the Mahri Karo: “And anyone who drives someone from the Land of Israel is as if he tells him to worship other gods for there are no observers of Torah outside of the Land of Israel.”
         The lesson is clear:  Though we build a hundred Boro Parks and a thousand Monseys and infinite numbers of yeshivas in the exile, the Jew who lives there is as one who has no G-d and is not a Torah observer.  Let the “religious” rail, but the words of our sages are truth.
        “And it came to pass after these events that G-d tested Abraham… (Genesis 22:1)

The famous story of Akeda, the testing of Abraham to see if he would sacrifice his own son at G-d’s command.  And the biblical commentator, Rasbam, adds a startling dimension to the story as he asks the question: Why does the Torah emphasize the fact that the Akedah incident took place after particular events?  And he replies:

"After the events in which Abraham made a treaty with Abimelech   (would not make war with him, his son and grandson), and gave him seven ewe-lambs.  And the Holy One Blessed Be He grew angry over this for lo, the Land of the Philistines (of Abimelech) was given unto Abraham…and therefore the L-rd tested Abraham… Later I found (evidence)…  “And the ark of the L-rd was in the Land of the Philistines for seven months (Samuel 1, 6:1).  “The Holy One Blessed Be He said unto him (Abraham):  “You gave him (Abimelech) seven ewe-lambs, I swear by your life that his sons will defeat your sons in seven battles.  Yet another version is: By your life I swear that his sons will kill seven of your righteous sons, and they are: Samson, Hafni, Phineas, Saul and his three sons.  Yet another version: I swear that his sons will destroy seven tabernacles.  Yet another version: that the ark shall remain in the fields of the Philistines for seven months.”

The lesson is clear.  Any treaty that leaves any part of the Land of Israel in the hands of the non-Jew is invalid and sinful.  Even Abraham was chastised for this.  One is not allowed to leave Jewish land in the hands of the non-Jew, how much more so to give it to him!

 " Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them.  And Hezekiah, king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria in Lachish, saying: I have sinned; return from me; that which thou puttest on me I will bear… at that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the L-rd…and gave it to the king of Assyria.” (Second Kings 18:13-16)
 And our rabbis comment: ‘The Holy One Blessed Be He wished to make Hezekiah the Messiah (because he was such a righteous man) and Sennacherib Gog and Magog.  But the ministering angels said:  shall you appoint one who cut off the gold from the Temple and sent them to the king of Assyria, the Messiah!”

 Herein we see that all of Hezekiah’s attributes – learning and piety – availed him nothing when he had failed in his faith; when he feared the king of Assyria more than he feared G-d and took the gold from the House of the L-rd and sent it as a tribute to the Assyrian.  This was the height of Hillul Hashem, desecration of the Name and honor of the L-rd, and because of it Hezekiah lost his opportunity to be the Messiah and the Children of Israel lost their hope of final redemption.

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