Nitzavim: Like Nowhere Else

We should learn Torah out of joy.

Aloh Naaleh,

Arutz 7

In Nitzavim, we see a pattern whereby we are driven out of Eretz Yisrael because of idol worship and other sins, endure an exile during which we are forced to turn back to HaShem, and then we're brought back to Eretz Yisrael, where HaShem will "do good to you and make you more numerous than your forefathers."

Most significant will be the change in our relationship with HaShem: "G-d will circumcise your heart and that of your children to love HaShem your G-d with all your heart and soul in order that you should live." (30:6)

Says the Netziv: If we are loving HaShem in order to live, then it's not HaShem we're loving - but ourselves.

He explains that living, in the sense of this pasuk, doesn't mean just breathing. It means feeling fully alive in a way that can only be experienced when one is committed to and excited about Torah and mitzvot.
The Netziv says it can only happen in Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein makes a similar point on the pasuk, "And you should choose life in order that you and your children should live." (30:19) He says if we want to influence our children to follow in our ways, then we can't do mitzvot just because G-d said so, even though we feel they are a burden. In such a case, our children might conclude that they don't have our strength to shlep the load. Rather, we should learn Torah out of joy, because this is the essence of our lives, the only thing that gives us true pleasure in this materialistic world. Only in this way will our children want to follow in our paths.

But it isn't easy to reach that level of excitement. The Netziv says it can only happen in Eretz Yisrael.

"When we were outside of Eretz Yisrael even one who tried to fully draw himself close to HaShem in love couldn't do so," the Netziv writes. Though he continues to explain that the fullest relationship with HaShem can only be attained in the times of Mashiach, it is clear that even today the spiritual climate of Eretz Yisrael provides an opportunity to feel the excitement of being Jewish like nowhere else in the world.

These days of economic upheaval may be a perfect time to reassess our relationship with material possessions and choose life, as the Torah defines it.
Rabbi Joel Rebibo writes from Beit El.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.