Rav Moshe Kaplan
Rav Moshe KaplanCourtesy

In the Megilla, Haman refers to the Jews as a scattered and dispersed people (Esther, 2:8). When they gather together and repent, their unity succeeds in overthrowing the harsh degree, but while their lives are saved, the victory is still only partial.

Regarding the miracle in Shushan - the Gemara says we don't say Hallel on a miracle which took place outside the Land of Israel. The Gemara then asks what about Pesach during which Hallel is recited (Megillah 14A). It answers that on Pesach we were freed from Pharaoh and can say we are servants of Hashem, whereas on Purim we remained in galut, servants to Achashverosh, a situation of baseness and servitude, and thus we cannot say we are servants of Hashem!

The Name of Hashem can only be complete when the Jewish People are united in the Land of Israel under Israelite sovereignty.

Only then can the Divine Ideal for the world be revealed and Divine Blessing illuminate all of mankind, as it says, “For out of Zion will go forth the Torah and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem” (Isaiah, 2:3).

In our previous essay we saw that the unity of Israel is only in the Land of Israel. But what is the value, the universal, Divine Significance of that unity of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael? The Zohar (Vayikra 93) cited previously states that what's at stake is no less than G-d's Oneness! "That He is called One through the One Nation, Israel… and when are they one? When in Eretz Yisrael."

Hashem’s Oneness, His Name, the Divine Ideal for all Creation, is revealed through Am Yisrael in the Land of Israel. His Oneness is manifest in the world when Am Yisrael is in Eretz Yisrael. As the Zohar states: "When Am Yisrael leaves the exile and returns to its place to unite with Hashem, then will be fulfilled (the prophecy from Zecharya with which we end our prayers three times a day in the Aleinu) 'In that day, Hashem will be One and His Name one!"

When all of the Jewish People return to the Land of Israel, only then will the ideal world and the real world be fused. The Divine blessing and flow of goodness will infuse all mankind, all the world.

Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael is the Divinely-created receptacle to receive and express Hashem’s Name and Shechinah in the world – as it says: "This nation have I created unto Me to declare My praise" (Yishayahu 43:21). Whatever transpires in the life of Am Yisrael is a reflection on His Name, His ideal. For example, when we are weak, persecuted, or in exile, this diminishes the expression of His ideal in the world, as Rashi succinctly states: "The lowliness of Israel is a Chillul Hashem" (Yechezkiel 39:7). And vice versa, "It is impossible for the honor of Hashem to be revealed except with the Redemption of Israel and the enhancement of their honor, the one, in truth, being dependent on the other" (Mesillat Yesharim, Ch. 19).

Similarly, regarding a verse we recite every morning in our prayers: "He will overcome them that rise up against Him,” Rashi explains: “and who are those who rise up against Him? Those that rise up against Israel" (Rashi, Numbers 10:35).

G-d created the world with the means to link all existence to its infinite, Divine Source of life. This is the source of blessing for all, as promised to our Patriarchs: "The nations of the world will be blessed through you" (Bereshit 12:3; 28:14). As the Or HaChaim wrote, "Lucky is the world that has this nation in its midst" (Shmot, 19:7): Our nationalism is not some jingoistic patriotic notion, for our private benefit, without concern for others, instead our nationalism is universalistic (Orot 152:3), as the heart of the nations (Zohar, Pinchas 221, Kuzari II:36), for the benefit of all. Just as life flows to the body via the heart, so Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael is the vehicle to connect all of mankind and all of Creation to the Divine.

This bonding is similar to two pieces of metal that conduct electricity. A piece of plastic and a piece of metal will not conduct. So too, Jews who live outside the Land of Israel are unable to bring that Divine flow of life and blessing to the world. This inability is not due to any personal, individual deficiency, but this is simple the Divine meta-physics of Creation. That is why the presence of the Jews outside the Land is called a Chillul Hashem, for the Name of G-d, the Divine ideal, is withheld from its full expression (Yehezkiel 36).

Since the Divine Ideal is revealed through the full national life of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, exile represents the destruction of that national framework. Thus exile itself constitutes a Chillul Hashem which makes void and empty (hallal) the manifestation of His Name, in its lacking the vehicle of its expression, which is Eretz Yisrael. In the next chapter of the Book of Yehezkiel, the exile is called the graveyard, for when the Jewish People are exiled from their Land, they lack the Neshama, the Divine Soul and life force which gives us life as a nation, as it says, "I give the Neshama to the nation upon it (the Land of Israel)" (Yishayahu 42:5).

The unity of Israel in Eretz Yisrael is not a mere "mystical," spiritual notion. On the contrary, it has many halakhic ramifications. The Talmud tells us that the definition of the Nation of Israel constitutes only those Jews in the Land of Israel. This is learned from the law that the “Par heelem davar” offering is brought when the majority of the Nation of Israel carried out an errant decision of the Sanhedrin.

Who is considered the Nation of Israel? All the Jews in the world? The Rabbis learn the answer from a verse which describes the festivities surrounding King Shlomo’s building of the Temple: "And all of Israel was with him, a great congregation, from Levo Hamat till the river of Egypt." The Gemara states that these borders, the borders of Eretz Yisrael, define the nation: "The Jews [in these borders] are called the congregation (kahal) and the others [outside these borders] are not called the congregation.” Thus when calculating the majority, "you go according to the majority of those who dwell in Eretz Yisrael" (Horayot 3A).

When the Rambam cites this law he states: "and you don't take into account all those (Jews) outside the Land for they are not considered kahal - only those who live in Eretz Yisrael," (Hilkhot Shgagot 13:2).

This concept is no small matter. What is at stake is whether or not the Divine blessing for all creation will appear in the world. When Am Yisrael returns to its full vitality in Eretz Yisrael, this activates the Divine flow of life and blessing to all things. This is the meaning of "to perfect the world under G-d's kingdom." This linking life on Earth to Hashem "plugs in" all of existence to the infinite Divine Source. This bonding will usher in a revolution in human culture.

When everything is connected to The One and Only Source, and the Divine Life Force is flowing to all of humanity, all mankind will live as one healthy organism, as different limbs in the body working in harmony, powered through the holy life force centered in the Nation of Israel in Israel. Peoples and nations will no longer see others as separate and opposing forces.

This revolution will lead to a true new world order when, "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not take up sword against nation. They shall never again know war" (Yishayahu 2:4). How easy it is to write this verse of our prophets on a wall outside of the UN building in New York, but it is Am Yisrael who will bring this to an internal, living reality, written on the walls of the hearts of mankind. Indeed this great uplifting will usher in an elevation of all creation, not only mankind. "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard lie down with the young goat" (Yishayahu 11:6). "In that day, even the bells on the horses shall be inscribed Holy to the L-rd."

All this will be realized by the return of Am Yisrael to its place in Eretz Yisrael. Then truly, "Torah shall come forth from Zion, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." Maybe it be in our days soon.