"When you come to the land that I am giving you..."
Osama bin Laden is dead. Obama is the victor. The same question is on everybody's lips: How will Barack Obama spend his newly gained political capital? What will he do with his increased popularity at home and America's increased respect abroad? Many here in Israel anticipate the same thing: With Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Washington and the Palestinian "threat" to unilaterally declare independence later this summer, President Barack Obama will be using his increased political clout to try to squeeze concessions out of Israel: Namely, to force Israel to turn over land to the two-headed terrorist Palestinian entity of Fatah and Hamas.
With or without Bin Laden, the name of the game remains the same: dissect and dismember the land of Israel. Our fearless enemies claim outright that the dividing of the land of Israel is merely step one in the ultimate aim to once and for all rid the land of Israel from the people of Israel, and our feckless "friends" claim that only this cruel violation of the land of Israel can save the people of Israel from their planned annihilation at the hands of their enemies.
So-called friends or unabashed enemies alike, the common underlying theme which animates all their "righteous" intentions is this: Their total disregard for the will of the G-d of Israel; their total contempt for the land of Israel.
This week's Torah reading of Behar, (Leviticus 25:1-26:2), in its entirely, deals with the land of Israel. As Israel prepares to enter into the land that G-d has promised them, they first must be taught the value of the land of Israel, their proper relationship with the land of Israel, and the land's relationship with G-d. It is really quite straightforward, but altogether unique in the world. The land belongs to G-d, Who has bequeathed it as an inheritance for Israel, in which they will dwell and in which they will build a house for God - the Holy Temple. Israel will plow the fields and reap the crops, drink from the rivers and springs, quarry the land's stones and build villages and cities. Israel will possess the land on G-d's behalf, but the land will remain always G-d's land.
And to insure that the people of Israel never fall into the false trap of thinking that the land of Israel belongs to them, G-d requires of Israel to make a covenant with the land, a covenant to which G-d will be the witness. This is the covenant of the Sabbatical year, the Shmitta year, and the Jubilee, (Yovel):
"When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land shall rest a Sabbath to HaShem. You may sow your field for six years, and for six years you may prune your vineyard, and gather in its produce, But in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest a Sabbath to HaShem; you shall not sow your field, nor shall you prune your vineyard." (Leviticus 25:2-4)
"And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live on it. It shall be a Jubilee for you, and you shall return, each man to his property, and you shall return, each man to his family." (ibid 25:10)
These verses speak for themselves: For the G-d fearing nation of Israel, the utterly foreign idea of dividing up the land of Israel and willfully handing over her beloved rocky hills and lush valleys to a sworn enemy is completely unthinkable. We would no sooner bisect the flesh of an infant whose maternity is in dispute. Israel's covenant with G-d and her covenant with the land which G-d has given Israel precede and preclude any plans or intentions proposed by man.
Our Torah reading makes clear the intrinsic connection between the Sabbatical and Jubilee year observances, and the upholding of social justice in the land of Israel. Indentured servants will be set free, debts will be forgiven and homesteads and fields will be returned to their original owners. Our Torah reading also makes clear the unassailable link between the keeping of our obligations to the land of Israel and our security in the land: "You shall perform My statutes, keep My ordinances and perform them then you will live on the land securely." (ibid 25:18) And our Torah reading makes vivid the connection between our respecting the sanctity of the land of Israel and the blessing of prosperity: "And the land will then yield its fruit and you will eat to satiety, and live upon it securely. And if you should say, 'What will we eat in the seventh year? We will not sow, and we will not gather in our produce!' Know then, that I will command My blessing for you in the sixth year, and it will yield produce for three years." (ibid 25:19-21)
Reams of paper have been produced filled with words written in vain; forests full of trees have been felled to produce these worthless international accords, all for the purpose, sincere or otherwise, of securing Israel's security, justice and prosperity. Rivers of blood have flowed. All for naught.
Later this summer, when Mr. Netanyahu meets Mr. Obama, he will be well advised to pocket his prepared speech to Congress, and abandon his proposed concessions to be made in the privacy of the Oval Office, and quote but these few words, "The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land belongs to Me, for you are strangers and temporary residents with Me. Therefore, throughout the land of your possession, you shall give redemption for the land." (ibid 25:23-24)
Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven express their thankfulness and passion for the State of Israel in this moving special edition for the 63rd Independence Day of the State of Israel. They unabashedly ask: What clearer indication could there be that we are on the way towards the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in our time?