Judaism is unique in that in addition to G-d asking us to keep 613 Commandments (the other nations need to keep 7 Categories which come to several hundred mitzvot as well but not 613) we are told we need to be in the land of Israel.
It is a very strange concept. Somehow and this is difficult to understand, A G-d that has no needs, needs his Jewish People to be in the land of Israel.
I will meet with the Israelites there (in the Tabernacle), and that place will be consecrated by My glory (Exodus 29:43)
“I will meet with the Israelites there:” – to inform all those who come into this world (i.e., all of mankind) the special affection which I have for Israel. (Midrash Lekaḥ Tov)
Lekaḥ Tov’s comment applies to the Land of Israel as well, since she, and only she, is the Land of the Shechina. [Yalkut Shimoni, 694]
Indeed, our Sages expounded:
The Holy One, blessed be He said to Moses: “the Land is dear to Me, (as the verse states ‘the eyes of the Lord your God are on it constantly from the first of the year until the very end of the year,’ [Deuteronomy 11:12]); and Israel is dear to Me, (as scripture states: ‘because the Lord loved you’ “[Deuteronomy 7:8]) Thus, the Holy One, blessed be He said: “I shall bring Israel who are dear to Me into the Land which is dear to Me (as it is written: ‘for you are entering the land of Canaan.’ [Numbers 34:2])”
The very fact of Israel’s presence within its Land, which is God’s Land, constitutes an expression of God’s affection for His chosen nation.
Beyond this, Israel’s presence in its Land conveys God’s Lordship over Israel to all the peoples of the world. Following our verse, the Torah states:
I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. And they will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God. [45-56]
Lekaḥ Tov elucidates:
“I will dwell among the Israelites” – because My Shechina is within Israel, the entire world will know that I am their Lord.
The nation of Israel is able to convey its special connection to God only when it dwells within the Land, as our Sages taught:
Whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a God, but whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who has no God. (Babylonian Talmud, Ketubot 110b)
The above comments allow us to understand a surprising remark of Rabbeinu Beḥayye on the final verse quoted above:
“And they will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so that I might dwell among them.” – the verse informs us that the purpose of the exodus was “that I might dwell among them” and if not for that, God would not have taken the Israelites out of Egypt, teaching that having the Shechina within Israel is God’s need, not merely the need of Israel.
Israel’s welfare requires its being in the Land, while that presence, as it were, serves the Divine “need” as well, combining the nation’s needs and God’s “need.” (David Magence)
So we learn that G-d’s love for us is like a bridegroom for his bride. Maybe he could live without her, but if you ask any bridegroom in love, he would say he can’t live without his bride. G-d could live with out us (Israel his love), but what would be the purpose of life.
A Broken Heart
With all of the virus scares in the world now, Yehuda decided that instead of going away on a vacation he would stay at home and just relax – a “staycation.” And Yehuda was really taking his mandate seriously by doing as little as possible.
Yehuda ignored his wife Miriam’s not-so-subtle hints about completing certain jobs around the house, but he didn’t realize how much this bothered her until the clothes dryer refused to work, the iron shorted, and the sewing machine motor burned out in the middle of a seam. The final straw came when Miriam plugged in the vacuum cleaner and nothing happened.
She looked so stricken that Yehuda offered some consolation.
“That’s okay, honey,” Yehuda said. “You still have me.”
Miriam looked up at me with tears in her eyes. “Yes,” she wailed, “but you don’t work either!”