Shabbat Parashat Vayeishev | 5765
[We saw last time that the Torah started with the story of creation to show that Hashem, who created the world, has the right to decide to whom to give his most coveted land, Eretz Yisrael. We continued to explain that the Torah continues with the story of our forefathers to show why Hashem chose their offspring to receive the Land. The main attribute that Avraham displayed, which made him worthy, was that of hakarat hatov, recognizing and responding to the good bestowed upon him, something that was lacking in Adam, forefather of mankind, in general.]
Chazal tell us that Hashem offered the Torah to all of the world’s nations, but they refused it (Avoda Zara 2b). At the End of Days the nations will approach Hashem with the following, logical complaint. Even Bnei Yisrael accepted the Torah only after having Har Sinai held over their heads. Under those circumstances, the nations of the world would also have likely accepted it (ibid.).
The answer to this question is included in the lessons of the stories of Sefer Bereishit. It is true that Bnei Yisrael needed some coercing to accept the Torah, but through the spiritual legacy they received from their forefathers, they were prepared to turn the Torah into a part of their being. They were capable of taking the Divine element of man and having it rule over the earthly, physical sideof man. That is why they were given Eretz Yisrael, a land where the ideal life of creating a state dedicated to a Torah way of life can be implemented in all facets of life.
Toward the end of the Torah (Devarim 26), Bnei Yisrael were given the mitzva of bikurim (first fruit), in whose merit they were allowed to enter the land. What is the message of that mitzva? The bringing of the fruit is accompanied by a declaration, which Chazal sum up with the words, “I declare that I am not a kafuy tova (a denier of the good I receive)” (Sifrei, ad loc.). In other words, our ability to recognize the good, inculcated into the national persona by Avraham, is that which merits us the Land. It was Avraham, thus, who succeeded in turning Hashem from the “G-d of the Heavens” to the “G-d of the Land.”
The Torah charges us to “remember the days of old” and “contemplate the years of generation after generation” (Devarim 32:7). We must look at our own times within the perspective of Chazal’s lessons. In our generation, it is difficult to avoid the feeling that the ill effects of the original snake have taken hold of us. It appears that we too have become guilty of ignoring the good that Hashem has bestowed upon us during the period of the formation of our independent state in our homeland.
It is difficult to understand the attitude of many of us who are faithful to the concept of Divine Providence in the personal realm, all the more so on the national level. How can a believing Jew fail to see the miraculous nature of our return to Eretz Yisrael, with the agreement of the nations of the world? We must remember that we were trapped in the grasp of a cruel, punishing exile for close to 2,000 years and were prevented by Divine oath from rebelling against the nations of the world. Those very nations got up and decided to grant us independence in our land, a decision that is now irreversible. Why do we not awake to the opportunity Hashem mercifully presented us with? The doors to Eretz Yisrael are open, and the Torah provides us with both a personal and a national mitzva to settle the land and strengthen our hold on it. Should our brethren abroad not take the opportunity to separate themselves from the exile and take the challenge to help build the state in such a way that it will run based on the Torah and halacha?
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