When the passuk talks about the Jewish Nation entering the land of Israel, the Torah refers to Israel as an inheritance; “And it will be, when you come into the land which Hashem, your God, gives you for an inheritance, and you possess it and settle in it”. Rashi states, based on a Gemarah in Kiddushin, that “possess and settle it”, is followed by the commandment of bringing the first fruits, to teach us, that they were not subject to the relevant mitzvot of the fruits of the Land of Israel until it was eventually conquered and divided. However, this does not explain why Israel is referred to as an inheritance, over other descriptions, such as our right.
To better understand why Israel is referred to as an inheritance, we should first understand the concept of what an inheritance is and how it differs from other ways of receiving something; an inheritance is innately defined as something that one receives, based on no effort, connection or work on their end. Literally as if it fell out of the sky. Studies have shown that this point is a major factor as to why inheritance is lost over time. Per verifiable data, around 70 percent of wealth handed down is lost by the second generation and around 90 percent of wealth is lost by the third generation. For context, the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and the Gettys are now best known for their names being etched onto institutions, and not as powerhouses of current wealth. This begs the question even more why Israel is referred to an inheritance, as it’s not something we ever wish to lose over time.
However, this is an additional factor that positively affects the percentage of sustainability of an inheritance that I didn’t mention above, and that is, if there is active participation from the person giving the inheritance to the person receiving the inheritance. This means that inheritances are much more likely to endure and thrive over time, when the beneficiaries are actively involved with the legacy they inherit. For example, the success of a family business being successfully passed down through generations, is conditional on the active participation of the current family leadership alongside the future family leadership. For generational success, it’s not enough for a leader to run a successful company with great profit margins and expansion. They must actively involve the future generation for the highest chance of eternal success.
Similarly, we were given a gift called Eretz Yisrael, with the intention that we would actively engage with it (for reference, see the following pesukim about the mitzvot relevant to the Land of Israel). Yet, if we want the land, along with its values, to be passed down to the next generation, it’s not enough to simply make the most of the land for ourselves. If we solely focus on our own personal gains, we risk losing the essence of the land for future generations. Our responsibility must extend to impart this love that we have for the land to the next generation.
Currently, there is a scare in Israel that if the US provides Israelis a visa-free option to go to the United States, there will be a large exodus of native Israelis. This is a failure of the previous generation to demonstrate to the current generation the beaty of this wonderful land. Additionally, this is a wake-up call to us, the inheritors of this remarkable gift, to internalize the importance of not just living our lives to the fullest here in Israel, but to also sharing the magnificence of this land with our children and grandchildren (because of this, one must be super careful if there is ever a need to criticize something in Israel, as it may be a vent from you, but others may interpret it completely differently, and start a negative thought cycle about the perfect land of Israel).
To give a bad, but nevertheless poignant, example to bring this idea home, being a Beatles fan, a Monty Python fan, a “Swiftie”, a Green Bay Packers or a pickleball fan, won’t translate to the next generation organically without active nurturing. Passive absorption based on the positive environment isn’t enough.
Lastly, just as a business or an inheritance’s value grows when nurtured, our connection to Israel flourishes when we actively engage with its rich history and profound spirituality. When we internalize the deep significance of our inheritance and make it a part of our daily lives, we ensure that its light continues to shine. Let us become living examples of the blessings that come from embracing our heritage by living on this sacred land and inspire the next generation to carry forward the flame of love for Israel and ensure its enduring legacy.