<I>Re'eh</I>: The Mitzvah of Settling the Land

Two separate, but complementary, mitzvot are mentioned in this verse: possession and residence. The former means that Eretz Israel must belong to us. The latter, that we must live in Eretz Israel. It may happen that Jews live in the Land, but it doesn't belong to them, as during the British Mandate. Conversely, we may possess areas of Eretz Israel where Jews do not live

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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
"For you are crossing the Jordan to come and to receive as an inheritance ("lareshet") the land which the L-rd your G-d has given to you; and you shall possess it ("v'yirishta") and reside ("v'yeshavtem") in it." (Deuteronomy 11:31)

Two separate, but complementary, mitzvot are mentioned in this verse: possession and residence. The former means that Eretz Israel must belong to us. The latter, that we must live in Eretz Israel. It may happen that Jews live in the Land, but it doesn't belong to them, as during the British Mandate. Conversely, we may possess areas of Eretz Israel where Jews do not live, as is the situation today in parts of Judea and Samaria.

We are commanded to fulfill both of these mitzvot in the order in which they are mentioned above: possession and then residence. Our rabbis taught, "By virtue of your taking possession, you will (be able to) reside in (the land)." (Sifrei, op. cit.) As long as the Land is not under our control, our residence there is inherently weakened.

There are two ways in which our lawful claim to ownership may be established, and both are expressed by one Hebrew root, "Ch-z-kah" (i.e., chazakah and chozkah), as noted by the Vilna Gaon in his commentary on the Torah (cited in Kol HaTor). We may show that the Land belongs to us by actually settling it - through agriculture and construction on the land - as in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Alternatively, we can take possession of the land by military conquest, as Joshua did. Obviously, the first alternative is preferable, but we may also need to use the second.

Only when we reside in Eretz Israel can we truly fulfill the command in the next verse of our parsha, "And you shall take care to fulfill all the laws and the statutes that I set before you today." (Deuteronomy 11:32) Only in Eretz Israel can we properly and completely fulfill the mitzvot of the Torah. At the same time as we continue to build Eretz Israel today, it is building us individually and as a nation, through the wonders of He Who redeems both the Nation and the Land of Israel.

"Our brothers who still live in the Diaspora receive from their brothers , the settlers and builders of Yerushalayim, thousands upon thousands times more than they contribute to Yerushalayim, even when they do so generously. For all the bounty of salvation, blessings, redemption, benevolence, mercy, good fortune, good health, etc., etc., of all of Israel in all their various dispersed places, comes only from Yerushalayim and her construction." -- The Vilna Gaon



Translated by Bracha Slae; copyright 1997 Ateret Cohanim - All Rights Reserved.


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