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Kenneth Cohen

Go Up and Inherit the Land

There are beautiful praises of Eretz Yisrael, in Parshat Eikev. The Torah describes the “good land” that awaits the Jewish people. And later in the Parsha, we are told that, “It is a land that Hashem seeks out, from the beginning of the year, to the end of the year.”

In the book of Psalms, in Chapter 106, King David lists many of the transgressions of the Jewish people in the desert. In Verse twenty four it is written, “And they despised the desirable land (ארץ חמדה), they had no faith in His word.”
Many commentators write that David is referring to the sin of the spies, and how they despised the land.

However, the Ibn Ezra seems to be explaining that the verse refers to all Jews of all generations. He says that David is referring to those who failed to believe in the command that originated in Mount Sinai that said, עלה רש, “Go up and inherit the land.”

These two words, עלה רש, are the source for the commandment to live in Israel, or, make Aliya. The words of the psalmist are harsh, when he describes those who ignore this Mitzva, as non-believers, those who despise the land.
This phenomenon has not changed, when so many Jews, who should know better, turn their backs on Israel. This is particularly painful, when we witness G-d’s miracles, and feel His presence, like never before, and Jews would rather in their comfort zones of materialism and complacency.

There will come the day, when we will need to answer and be accountable for our actions. What will the response be when many will be asked, “I gave you this wonderful gift of a Jewish homeland. I did it with open miracles, and the fulfillment of numerous prophecies. Why didn’t you “go up and inherit the land?” Did you not believe in Me? Did you choose to despise this good land?”

Thankfully, over seven million Jews will not have to answer these questions. They appreciate and love Eretz Yisrael. But how will the remaining Jews of the Diaspora be able to answer these challenges? The way to avoid this accountability, is simple. Come home now!

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at www.cafehebrew.com
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