Hallachik Aspects

BIBLICAL SOURCES

“And you shall possess it and dwell therein…”

The land of Israel is the Jewish Homeland of the past, present and future. Dating back centuries, the Bible describes how the Land of Canaan was promised to the Jewish forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Today, it is widely accepted that living in and possessing the Land of Israel is a religious commandment, as seen in the Bible, and found in the following sources:

Biblical Sources

  • And you shall possess it and dwell therein. And you shall observe to do all the statutes and ordinances which I set before you this day. (Deuteronomy 11:31-32)
  • To your offspring I will give this land (of Canaan) (Genesis, 12:7)
  • On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram saying, “To your descendants I have given this land” (Genesis, 15:18)
  • The land that the Lord seeks out, the eyes of the Lord are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the year’s end (Deuteronomy, 11:12)

1. Sifrei Devarim, Re’eh 80: Living in Israel = All the Commandments in the Bible

A story is told in the Talmud where Rabbi Elazar Ben Shamua and Rabbi Yohanan Hasandlar were traveling to learn torah from Rabbi Yehudah Ben Beteira. It is told that they arrived at Tzidon (in Lebanon today) and remembered the land of Israel; as it says they lifted their eyes and tears began to flow. The tore their clothes and recited the verse (from Deuteronomy 11:31-32) “And you shall possess it and dwell therein. And you shall observe to do all the statutes and ordinances which I set before you this day.” They then said “Living in the land of Israel is considered equal to all the commandments in the torah”. Then they turned and went back to the land of Israel (from where they had come).

Commentaries

2. Em Habanim Semeicha* (pages 148-149): Through the Love of the Land, we increase the merit of our patriarchs

It is written: “And also, the merit of the patriarchs will not support us except through the love of the land.”

It is written in Em Habanim Semeicha that the Torah describes how if we (the Jewish people) take hold of their (the patriarch’s) traits to love and care for the land, and to do likewise then Hashem, Blessed be He, remembers the merit of the patriarchs. As it is written: “And I shall remember my covenant with Jacob and even my covenant with Isaac I shall remember, but only under the condition ‘And I shall remember the land’ – (which is) according to your love for the Land.” It is also written in the Midrash “Whenever the Holy One, blessed be He, remembers the Patriarchs, He remembers the Land with them.”

*Em Habanim Semeicha was written while in hiding by the great rabbi, HaRav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal, head of the Slobodka Yeshiva, in Budapest, Hungary and published in 1943 during the Holocaust. 

3. Em Habanim Semeicha (pages 278, 279, 355, 366): Only the mitzvah (commandment) of settling the Land has the ability to bring unity to Israel

It is written in Em Habanim Semeicha: “Choose please this mitzvah (commandment) of settling the Land that we may all be involved in it together, every Israelite soul that lives in the world. And through it, we will become one nation in the land and unity shall return to its place…

And know, my brother, that the things I have written here should not be taken lightly in your site for our salvation rests precisely on the coming together of Israel in unity. And there is no other way to come to the unity of all Israel except by the advice I have given above: to unify and organize the entire nation in the matter of settling and building the Land. For all the words of our rabbis, make this evident…

The Holy One, Blessed be He, asks from us to come together in acts of building up the land for only this mitzvah is able to bring unity…

Therefore it is incumbent upon us to pull the entire nation together, and the unifying factor that will pull us together will come only through building up of the settlement of our Holy Land, for only this mitzvah is able to accomplish this.”

4. Maaracha Hatziburit (page 110): The Wholeness of the land comes before Jewish identity

Harav Tzvi Yehudah (Kook) was asked the most pressing question, dealing with the sanctity of the Jewish people, “What is your position on the question of “Who is a Jew?”
He replied without hesitation; Right now we wont go into the full breadth of the matter of Who is a Jew? But one thing is clear. For me, the wholeness of the land comes before (the matter of) Who is a Jew. In prayer we first say For the Lord has chosen Zion, and only afterwards do we say Who has chosen Israel. There is no Zion without Israel and there is no Israel without Zion.

5. Kol Hator (page 27): The building of the land of Israel comes before revealing the Mashiach Ben David (messiah)

The Vilna Gaon is quoted as explaining the verse in the Midrash “And a redeemer shall come to Zion”. He describes how as long as Zion is not built, the redeemer shall not come. The Midrash says “The son of David will not come until Jerusalem is built.” The sages explain “When Jerusalem is built, the son of David will come.”