Ensuring G-d’s Assurances of Success
Our sedra concludes with pointed instructions for the Jewish People upon arrival in Eretz Yisrael. In Eikev‘s short, final aliyah, we read:
כִּי אִם-שָׁמֹר תִּשְׁמְרוּן אֶת-כָּל-הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם–לַעֲשֹׂתָהּ: לְאַהֲבָה אֶת-ה’ אֱלֹקֵיכֶם, לָלֶכֶת בְּכָל-דְּרָכָיו–וּלְדָבְקָה-בוֹ. וְהוֹרִישׁ ה’ אֶת-כָּל-הַגּוֹיִם הָאֵלֶּה מִלִּפְנֵיכֶם; וִירִשְׁתֶּם גּוֹיִם, גְּדֹלִים וַעֲצֻמִים מִכֶּם. כָּל-הַמָּקוֹם, אֲשֶׁר תִּדְרֹךְ כַּף רַגְלְכֶם בּוֹ–לָכֶם יִהְיֶה: מִן-הַמִּדְבָּר וְהַלְּבָנוֹן מִן-הַנָּהָר נְהַר-פְּרָת, וְעַד הַיָּם הָאַחֲרוֹן–יִהְיֶה, גְּבֻלְכֶם. לֹא-יִתְיַצֵּב אִישׁ, בִּפְנֵיכֶם: פַּחְדְּכֶם וּמוֹרַאֲכֶם יִתֵּןה’ אֱלֹקֵיכֶם, עַל-פְּנֵי כָל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר תִּדְרְכוּ-בָהּ, כַּאֲשֶׁר, דִּבֶּר לָכֶם.
For if you keep all of these mitzvot, that I commanded you to do them, to love Hashem your G-d, to go in all of his ways and to cling to Him. [Then,] G-d will enable you to inherit from all of the nations before you, and you shall drive out nations greater and mightier than you. Every place upon which you walk shall be for you, from the desert to the Lebanon, from the Euphrates river until the Mediterranean Sea- these shall be your borders, and no man will stand before you. You will fear and worship Hashem your G-d, on the face of the earth just as He told you. (דברים יא:כב-כה)
Ramban teaches here that our pesukim are giving two promises to future Jews. The first one, “כל המקום אשר תדרוך כף רגלכם בו לכם יהיה…” guarantees us that wherever the Jews of Eretz Yisrael set their minds to conquer, they will succeed, and this newly incorporated land will become part of the Holy Land. Furthermore, once the Jewish People decide to expand their land, “לא יתיצב איש בפניכם,” no one will stop them from the conquest. However, Ramban warns, both of these assurances come with a condition, which we saw in earlier pesukim; “כי אם שמור תשמרון… לאהבה את ה’ אלקיכם, ללכת בכל דרכיו ולדבקה בו.” We must make sure that we guard G-d’s mitzvot and love and cling to Him, in order to ensure our success at כיבוש הארץ and expanding our land.
Ramban adds an important message here. The specific coordinates in our pesukim, of “המדבר והלבנון … מן הנהר נהר פרת ועד הים האחרון,” constitute a mitzva in it of itself. We are commanded to expand our borders until they include the Euphrates River (in Iran), Lebanon, the Negev dessert, and the Mediterranean Sea. Ramban concludes that we cannot be assured of both of G-d’s promises of divine help in military campaigns unless we actively try to reach the goals of our pesukim, to conquer the full area of land promised to us.
I believe in our times we need to listen to Ramban’s message. The State of Israel is currently involved in an extensive military operation, and we have b”H seen amazing miracles happening to both Israeli soldiers and civilians in Gaza, but as long as our goals are too limited, we will not see the full bracha of “לא יתיצב איש בפניכם.” The Israeli government has made it clear that Operation Protective Edge is a purely defensive operation- this should not be the case! We should be taking advantage of this oppurtunity of כיבוש הארץ, taking back parts of Eretz Yisrael that are rightfully ours. The first Rashi in the Torah justifies our conquering of the land by explaining that the land belongs to G-d and He gave it to us. Now, over ten months after reading this, we cannot forget it. We do not need to justify our conquest to anyone, especially not the western powers killing much more “innocent” civilians per day in Iraq than Israel has in Gaza- we only need to justify it to ourselves. In order to make sure that we receive G-d’s assurances of protection, and to ensure true peace in southern Israel, we must take back Gaza. We’ve known that for a while militarily, and now we know this religiously.
With Hashem’s help, we will see a fulfillment of the bracha of לא יתיצב איש בפניכם so that we can see a complete Israeli success in retaking Gaza, and the imminent redemption, very speedily in our days.