KAHANE ON THE PARSHA
RABBI MEIR KAHANE
DRIVE THEM OUT!
The Torah states clearly: “And you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you . . . but if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those whom you allow to remain will be like thorns in your eyes and thistles in your sides and will torment you in the land in which you dwell” (Numbers 33.52.55).
The Biblical commentators are explicit “And you shall drive out the inhabitants and then you shall inherit it and be able to exist in it. And if you do not, you will not be able to exist in it”
“When you shall eliminate the inhabitants of the land, then you shall be privileged to inherit the land and pass it down to your children But if you do not eliminate them, even though you will conquer the land, you will not be privileged to hand it down to your children” (Sforno).
“This verse refers to nations other than the seven nations found there . . . Not only will they hold that part of the land that you did not conquer, but even concerning that part which you did conquer and settle in, they will distress you and say, ‘Rise and get out’” (Ohr HaChaim).
And so the Midrash tells us: “Joshua sent three messages to the inhabitants [of Canaan]. He who wishes to evacuate – let him evacuate; he who wishes to make peace – let him make peace, he who wishes to make war – let him make war” (Vayikra Rabba 17.6).
The choices are given. Either leave, or prepare for war, or make peace. The choice of “making peace” is explained by Rabbis as involving three things. To begin with, the non-Jew must agree to adopt the seven basic Noahide Laws, which include the prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, immorality, bloodshed, robbery, eating flesh cut from a living animal, and a positive action – adherence to social laws. Once he has done this, he has the status of a resident stranger (ger toshav) who is allowed to live in Eretz Yisrael (Avoda Zara 64b) if he also accepts the conditions of tribute and servitude.
The Biblical commentator, the Radak, explains (in his commentary to Joshua 9:7): “If they uproot idolatry and accept the seven Noahide laws, they must also pay tribute and serve Israel and be subject under them as it is written (Deuteronomy 20:11, ‘All the people . . . shall be tributaries to you and shall serve you.’”
Maimonides (Hilchot Melachim 6:11) declares: “If they make peace and accept the seven Noahide laws, we do not kill them for they are tributary. If they agreed to pay tribute but did not accept servitude or accepted servitude but not tribute, we do not acquiesce until they have accepted both. And servitude means that they shall be humble and low and not raise their head in Israel. Rather, they shall be subjects under us and not be appointed to any position over Jews ever.”
Far better than foolish humans did the Almighty understand the dangers inherent in allowing a people that believes the land belongs to it free and unfettered residence, let alone ownership, proprietorship, citizenship. What more natural thing than to ask to regain what it rightly believes to be its own land? And this over and above the need to create a unique and distinctly separate Torah culture that will shape the Jewish people into a holy nation. That uniqueness can only be guaranteed by the non-Jew having no sovereignty, ownership, or citizenship that could allow him to shape the state’s destiny and character.
And so, concerning any non-Jew, Maimonides writes: “‘You shall not place over yourself a stranger who is not of your brethren’ (Deuteronomy 17:15). Not only a king, but the prohibition is for any authority in Israel. Not an officer in the armed forces. . .not even a public official in charge of the distribution of water to the fields . And there is no need to mention that a judge or chieftain shall only be from the people of Israel. . . Any authority that you appoint shall only be from the midst of your people” (Hilchot Melachim 1:4).
The purpose is clear. The non-Jew has no share in the land. He has no ownership, citizenship or destiny in it. The non-Jew who wishes to live in Israel must accept basic human obligations. Then he may live in Israel as a resident stranger, but never as a citizen with any proprietary interest in the land or with any political say; never as one who can hold any public office which will give him domination over a Jew or a share in the authority of the country. Accepting these conditions, he admits that the land is not his and therefore he may live in Israel quietly, separately, observing his own private life, with all religious, economic social and cultural rights. Refusing this, he cannot remain.
This is Torah. This is Jewishness. Not the dishonest pseudo-“Judaism” chanted by liberal secularists who pick and choose that “Judaism” that finds favor in their eyes and who reject that which their own gentilized concepts find unacceptable
Jewish Press 1981
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