21 Av 5780 / Tuesday, August 11, 2020 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
 
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Ki Tisa: Too High for Them    

Ki Tisa: Too High for Them



The nations of the world claim the Land of Israel, only because we are not yet living on the spiritual level expected of us...

 



Towards the end of our weekly reading, the Jews are commanded concerning the three yearly festivals: Pesach (Passover), Shavuot, and Succot. Three times a year all of the males are required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to visit the Holy Temple. There is an obvious technical problem with this requirement. If all of the men are going to ascend to Jerusalem, who’s going to protect the women and children? Even if we leave small units of guards, the risk of attack would still be very great.
 
No problem. The Torah guarantees safety with the following words: “No man will covet your land when you go up to appear before Hashem, your G-d, three times a year.” (Exodus 34:24). Rabbi Zev Leff, one of the outstanding Torah speakers and writers of this generation, asks a wonderful question on this claim. If the Torah had promised, in the face of these serious risks, that Hashem will provide Divine protection for the land, it would be understandable. Obviously, Hashem can protect His people in order for them to fulfill the Divine command of visiting the Temple. The difficulty with the verse is that it promises something very different. The Torah tells us that no man will covet the land. How can the Torah promise such a thing? Isn’t it more reasonable to assume that they will covet the land, but Hashem will protect us anyway. How could the Torah make such a claim?
 
There is a well-known Midrash, a teaching from our Sages, how Hashem offered the Torah to the other nations and how they refused. The Midrash explains that Hashem went to each nation and asked if they wanted to accept the Torah. Each nation responded negatively claiming that the requirements of the Torah went against their nature and would be impossible to fulfill. Hashem then went, so to speak, to the Jewish people with the same question, were they willing and interested in accepting the Torah. They then responded with the famous words: “All that Hashem says we will do and we will listen to”. Simply stated the Sages are teaching us that the nations didn’t want to accept the Torah because it is a hardship and inconvenience for them. Conversely, the Jews showed their excitement and willingness to perform the Divine will.
 
What is the purpose of the Land of Israel and why did Hashem give us this land? The Torah is Hashem’s guidelines how to connect Heaven and Earth, to incorporate the physical and the spiritual into one harmonious blend. The perfect location for that to occur is the land of Israel. The performance of Hashem’s Torah and commandments are ideally suited to a place saturated with both spiritual and physical blessings. The land of Israel is not like all other countries, it is a special place to accomplish a unique task, to live according to Hashem’s loving will.
 
The nations’ relationship to Torah and the land of Israel are parallel. In the same way that they didn’t want to accept the Torah since they weren’t interested in its lofty goals; they also really don’t want the land of Israel as the place to perform Hashem’s commandments.  Since the purpose of this special land is to fulfill the Torah, in truth, they don’t want either parts of the package, not the Torah and not the land.
 
The Torah promises that when we will go to the Temple three times a year, the nations won’t covet the land. When the Jewish people will reflect the majesty and greatness of living as a holy nation, the nations simply won’t be interested in this “demanding” life style. Just as they felt the Torah was too lofty for them back at the time of the receiving of the Torah, so too during the time of the Temple they also sensed that the land of Israel and its requirements are too elevated for them.
 
If today we see the nations do seem to want the Land of Israel, that is only because we are not yet living on the spiritual level expected of us. If they are coveting the land, it is because the land of Israel seems to be like any other country and then why shouldn’t they be interested? However, as soon as they see the Jewish people living as a holy nation and their holy land, they will no longer be interested in claiming the land.
 
This may sound like a bold claim but there really is no other way to test and understand it except to face the challenge of using the land the way it is supposed to be used. If we truly love our land and want an end to the fighting with our neighbors, the Torah tells us that we should live lives of Torah greatness. When the nations will see us living according to the Torah they won’t desire the land. They will realize how the land is the place in this world that reflects the special love between Hashem, His people, and His Torah. May we merit to fulfill this lofty mission.
 
 
* * *
Rabbi Dovid Charlop is on the teaching staff of the Neve Tzion Yeshiva in Telzstone, Israel. You can see more of Rabbi Charlop's articles here.





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  2 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  1.
  family still in galut
Anonymous,2/12/2014 11:13:44 AM
     
 
  2.
  YES YES YES
Lori2/12/2014 10:12:51 AM
     
 

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