Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach| 5764
(from the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l)
The Choice of Am Yisrael for EretzYisrael
(from Harabbanut V’hamedinah, pp. 292-296)- part I
The first Rashi in the Torah explains why the Torah started with the creation of the world and not with the first mitzva given to Bnei Yisrael. The answer is, of course, that Hashem wanted to convey that, as Creator of the world, it was up to Him to decide to whom to give Eretz Yisrael at each point during history. Yet it seems that this idea does not answer the question completely. Why is it necessary to continue, after conveying the message of creation, to describe the highlights of human history until the time that the mitzvot were given?
The answer is that it is not sufficient to tell that Hashem created the world and can decide to whom He gives its most coveted land. The question would still remain. Where is Hashem’s righteousness? Why is it that Am Yisrael, of all nations, received Eretz Yisrael? So, what is the answer?
“Vayar Elokim ki tov.” The world was created as a good place. If mankind internalizes this concept, it should bring it to hakarat hatov (recognition of the good) and thankfulness for it. The proper reaction of mankind should be to act with goodness in response to the good it received.
Man is created from the ground, yet he is imbued with the Divine Spirit that was blown into his nostrils. Made from two opposites, the physical and the spiritual, man has full free choice to choose on the side of spiritual self-elevation or, Heaven forbid, deterioration. How is it that Adam chose to violate the word of his Creator? It could only have happened if he failed to realize the implications of the hakarat hatov to Hashem, which he should have had naturally. When confronted, Adam does not even recognize his sin. Instead of taking responsibility, he passes on the blame to Chava and even to Hashem who created her for him. These were the failures of the father of mankind.
Avraham, on the other hand, approached the world differently. Chazal tell us that he saw a building on fire and inquired, saying that there must be someone in charge of the building. He didn’t just reason that someone had built the building but that there must be a leader, who cares for it and that similarly, there must be a Divine Being who runs the world. For Avraham, it was not a matter of intellectual curiosity, but rather a search for He who does good for others and, as such, deserved his thankfulness. This is what epitomized Avraham’s special approach to acting with kindness toward all and his sense of justice. These brought him even to chutzpa toward Hashem, demanding, “will the Judge of the world not act with justice?”(Bereishit 18:25).
At this point, the big turning point in human history took place. Hashem decided to separate a special group within society to create a special nation. In order for man to understand this, the Torah had to describe how the fathers of this nation operated and have us learn from their triumphs and difficulties. Above all, we are to notice how they remained unique and separate, until the point that they were able to leave
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