What should be our national interest?

The Torah reading this Shabbat teaches us that the Land of Israel is intrinsically a holy land which cannot stand to be defiled.

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol ,

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
INN: Daniel Malichi

In this week's parsha, ​​the Torah speaks about the severity of the sin of incest and the punishment for those who commit it. The Torah tells us that the land of Israel “vomited” its inhabitants out because of these sins. This teaches us that the Land of Israel is intrinsically a holy land which cannot stand to be defiled.

There is a subject which the Torah speaks about at length both in Parshat Acharei-Mot as well as Parshat Kedoshim and that is the subject of incest. Parshat Acharei-Mot, warns the nation about the severity of the sin, while Parshat Kedoshim delineates the punishments for those who perform this terrible sin. What is unusual about how the Torah speaks about this sin is that unlike most of the prohibitions in the Torah, in which the Torah "only" commands and informs us of the prohibition, in the case of incest, the Torah expounds the severity of the prohibition as well as its consequences.

At the end of Parshat Acharei-Mot, after the Torah details the relationship which constitute incest, it concludes and says: "Do not defile yourselves with any of these (relationships), for in all these the nations (who lived in Israel previously) are defiled and the land has spit them out. But you (nation of Israel) should guard my commandments and you will not perform these abominations…and the land will not spit you out…because I am the L-rd, your G-d.”

In these verses the Torah tells us something simple and clear: The Land of Israel could not tolerate the nations who lived there because they committed the abominations of incest and defiled the Land of Israel. Therefore, we, the people of Israel, are commanded not to do these abominations, which defile the Land of Israel, so that, G-d forbid, the Land of Israel should not “vomit” us as well.

There seems to be a new and profound understanding here of the whole subject of modesty and holiness. Generally, such issues are perceived as a personal duty imposed on each and every one, yet the “business” is between just the individual and G-d. However, here the Torah is saying that issues of holiness and purity within the nation of Israel are a national matter, and that the entire existence of the Jewish people in the land of Israel depends on this.

The Land of Israel, even if on the outside it looks like anywhere else in the world, is intrinsically a holy, living and breathing land. It cannot stand being defiled, G-d forbid. Therefore, when defiled, it protects itself and its holiness by removing the sinners from within its borders. This is why preserving the moral character of the State of Israel in these matters of holiness and purity should be a national interest of the highest level.

The people of Israel, like the Land of Israel, are intrinsically holy, and therefore the Land of Israel warmly embraces its righteous sons and daughters who return to the motherland and are even willing to give their lives for it. True, externally there are still disagreements among its inhabitants about the identity of the State of Israel, especially in these areas of modesty and purity, but we have full confidence, out of our faith in the Creator of the world and the teachings of our leaders, that from these disagreements will rise even a higher level of holiness and purity within the nation of Israel. There is no nation that is more suited to the sanctity of the Land of Israel than the holy people of Israel who conduct themselves according to the Holy Torah.

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol is the head of the Barkai Rabbinical Organization and the rabbi of the Shaarei Yonah Menachem community in Modi'in