We read in our Parasha (33:50-53):’Hashem spoke to Moshe in the plains of Moab, by the Jordan, at Jericho, saying:’Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the Land before you; and you shall destroy all their prostration stones; all their molten images shall you destroy, and all their high places shall you demolish. You shall possess the Land and you shall settle in it, for to you have I given the Land to possess it’.
Rashi comments:’When you cross the Jordan..you shall drive out..’: Were they not previously forewarned about this a number of times? However, Moshe Rabbeinu here said to them:’When you cross over the Jordan on dry land, you shall cross on this condition’- to drive out the inhabitants and to settle in the Land-‘ for if not, water will come and inundate you. And we find that Joshua said the same to then when they were still in the Jordan’.
The Maharal, in Gur Aryeh, his commentary on Rashi, elucidates:’And if you ask: What is the reason for this condition, it is because the Jordan is the thing which prevents their entering the Land, but, if they cross it for the objective of driving out the inhabitants of the Land, this barrier will split, and not prevent their entry into the Land; if, on the other hand, this will not be their objective for entering the Land, this river which prevents entry, will inundate them, מאחר שמחויב עליהם לעשות: because they are obligated to so intend’.
Rav Meir Danon, in his commentary on Rashi, Be’er B’Sadeh, adds:’Rashi was concerned as to the intent of the words ‘When you cross the Jordan’, whether it was a command, as clearly they could not ‘drive out the inhabitants’ unless they crossed over the river- and not before - nor whilst they ‘cross the Jordan’, which was the plain meaning of the words.
‘He therefore said that it was not a warning to drive out the inhabitants, as they had on several previous occasions been adjured to do so; rather, it was a warning that their crossing of the Jordan should be for this objective - as, if it was not, they would not be able to cross it’.
Rav David Hofstedter asks: ‘Why was their crissing of the Jordan conditional on them having this purpose in mind? We don’t find that there was any similar condition for the splitting of the Sea, which Hashem similarly split, when Bnei Israel left Egypt’.
He answers:’The sea was split in the merit of the mesirut nefesh of Bnei Israel who trusted in Hashem, in entering the sea.
‘However, we do not find any mesirut nefesh on the part of Bnei Israel in crossing the Jordan; it was solely due to Hashem’s chesed, and therefore, to merit that it split, they were required to have this purpose in mind: that crossing the split river, should be solely for the purpose of fulfilling Hashem’s Word: To drive out the idolatrous inhabitants from the Land, and to settle in the Land’.
Let us suggest another reason for this intriguing pre-condition, based on the ruling of the Ramban, who derives from our psukim that it is a positive Mitzvah to settle in the Land.
The Ramban expounds:’The words:’You shall possess the Land and you shall settle in it, for to you have I given the Land to possess it’, in my view, is a positive Mitzvah, that they were commanded to settle the Land because it was given to them, and to not ימאסו: ‘get tired’ of Hashem’s inheritance’.
How could Bnei Israel show their appreciation of this priceless gift, of the Land Hashem gave them? By seeking to enter it solely to fulfill Hashem’s Will: to settle in the Holy Land, and rid it of all of its idolatrous inhabitants and their abominations.
We find a similar teaching, in the saying of our Sages on the Mitzvah of Bikurim, in the opening passuk of Parashat Ki Tavo:(26:1-3); ’And it will be when you enter the Land that the Lord your G-d gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it and settle in it; that you shall take the first of all the fruit..which you will bring from your land, which the Lord, your G-d is giving you..; And you shall come to the Kohen..and say to him:’I declare thisday to thr Lord, your G-d, that I have come to the land which the Lord swore to our forefathers to give us..’ and you shall give these ביכורים:first fruits to the Kohen.
The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh comments, on this passage:’’And it shall be when you come to the land which Hashem gives you’: והיה:’it shall be’ is the language of joy, as we are not to rejoice except in the settlement in the Land, as we say (Ps’ 126:2)’Then our mouths will be filled with laughter’’.
Says the Midrash Sifri:’Perform this Mitzvah, for in its merit you shall enter the Land’.
Is this not akin to our Rashi, as to the condition for entering the Land, in our Parasha?
Both teach us the obligation of הכרת הטוב: gratitude to Hashem, for bringing us to the Land, and giving it to us, so that we merit to settle in His palace.
This obligation of gratitude: הכרת הטוב, is surely no less applicable today, to those of us who merit to live in the Land, than it was to our ancesrors who were about to enter it, for the first time.
Sefer Charedim articulated this beautifully:’The Mitzvah of settling the Land is fulfilled each and every moment that a person is in this Land, and he thereby fulfills the Mitzvah, as laid down by the Ramban; and it is well known that the main reward for fulfilling Mitzvot is the great joy with which they are fulfilled.
‘Therefore it is incumbent on one who has settled in the Land to always rejoice in this continuous Mitzvah that he is able to observe, in his love of the Mitzvah’.
A parting thought from Rav Shmuel Hominer:’Those who merited to be born in the Land, or to have gtown up in it, have to take great care that they should not take living in it for granted. They should always have in mind that the purpose for being here is to fulfill Hashem’s command:’And you shall settle there’.
‘This is spelled out every time we recite Birkat Hamazon, when we say:’We thank you Hashem, our Lord, for having given as a heritage to our forefathers a precious, good and spacious land..’, and we conclude this bracha, with the words:’You shall bless the Lord your G-d for the good land he has goven you’.
Thank you Hashem for your chesed in splitting the Jordan, for our forefathers!
לרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה, ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.