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Arie E. Pelta
Surgeon

Questions and Answers – The Cherished Land (10a of 14)

Hermon, Sneir, Siron, Sion (view from Lebanon border; image courtesy of author))

117) The Shema commands us to Love Hashem. Which Land is it worth falling in love with and having a special emotional connection with it?

Eretz Yisrael. Not the USA. Not France. Not the UK. For not the USA, nor do we care about make American Great Again. A real Torah Jew will Love and cherish the things G-d Himself choses.

BeMidBar Rabbah 3:8

Rav Levi said: You find that Hashem created many things and chose one of them for Himself…He created lands and He chose one for Himself – Eretz Yisrael, as it says, “The eyes of Hashem Your G-d are always upon it” (Devarim 11:12) תמיד עיני ה’ אלקיך בה . Hashem also calls it His Land as it says “They divided up My Land” (Yoel 4:2) ואת ארצי חלקו . He created heavens and chose one of them for Himself – that is Aravot, as it says “Praise He Who rides upon the Aravot” (Tehilim 68:5).

BeMidBar Rabbah 23:7

…None of these berachos is more beloved than “for the Land and for the nourishment” על הארץ ועל המזון …Hashem said, Eretz Yisrael is more beloved to me than everything else…This teaches that nothing is as beloved as Eretz Yisrael is…

Hashem said to Moshe, “Behold, the Land is beloved to me…and Israel is beloved to Me…Said Hashem, “I will bring the people of Israel, who are beloved to Me, into the Land that is beloved to Me…

118) Did Esav (USA/Europe) agree that Eretz Yisrael belongs to the Jewish people?

Yes! We have an ancient contract between our forefathers Esav (USA) and Yakov (the Jewish people of Yisrael).

Pirkei DeRebbe Eliezer, chapter 38

…So, Eisav took everything that his father left behind and gave Yaakov Eretz Yisrael and the Cave of Machpeilah; and they wrote an everlasting contract between them…In a reward…he was given a hundred countries from Se’ir to Magdiel…which is Rome

119) We are to emulate G-d and our great leaders. Do they prefer Chutz LaAretz or Eretz Yisrael? Should we choose the comforts and wealth of the USA over the possible alternatives in Eretz Yisrael?

All the greatest of true Gedolim wanted to move to Eretz Yisrael, not matter what! No exceptions.

Midrash Tanchuma. Re’eh 8

Eretz Yisrael is beloved ,חביבה  for Hashem chose it. You find that when He created the world, He distributed the various lands among the angelic ministers of the nations, while choosing the Land of Israel for Himself…Said Hashem, “Let Yisrael, who became My portion, come and inherit the Land that became My portion.”

Avraham desired נתאוה לה it…Yitzchak desired it…Yaakov desired it…Moshe, as well, desired it…Also Dovid desired it…One says that Dovid said before Hashem, “Master of the Universe, even if I have palaces and mansions in Chutz LaAretz and only a threshold הסף in Eretz Yisrael, I would choose the threshold.”

120) Why do all the Nations of the world seem to care about Eretz Yisrael (sometimes more that Jews themselves)?

The leaders of the world from antiquity until today, have realized that if one does not have a claim to Eretz Yisrael they have nothing.

Sifrei, Eikev 37

…Eretz Yisrael which is more beloved than all the other lands, was created before all other lands…

Behold it says, Sidonites would call Hermon Siryon, and Amorites would call it Senir. Elsewhere it says, Until Mount Si’on, which is Hermon. Thus, it has four names. For what purpose do people need to know this information? Rather, four kingdoms were arguing over it…

Behold, it says, “I gave you a cherished Land, the desirous heritage of the hosts of nations” (Yirmiyahu 3:19).ואתן לך ארץ חמדה נחלת צבי צבאות גוים…for any king or ruler who failed to acquire castles in Eretz Yisrael would say, “I have accomplished nothing.”

121) Why did Yosef HaTzadik merit to be buried in Eretz Yisrael and not Moshe Rabeinu?

Because Yosef identified with the Land of Israel in his younger years and Moshe did not. This raises the question, if a Jew chooses to remain in Chutz LaAretz and not make Aliyah; should he be treated any better than Moshe and be allowed to be buried in Israel?

Devarim Rabbah 2:8

Rav Levi said: Moshe said to G-d, “Master of the Universe, Yosef’s bones entered the Land, but I do not enter the Land?” Hashem replied, “He who acknowledged his Land is buried in his Land, and he who did not acknowledge his Land is not buried in his Land.”…Look! He Potifar brought us a Ish Ivri…(BeReishis 9:14) and Yosef did not deny it. Rather, he said, I was stolen away from the Land of the Ivrim (Bereishis 40:15)…You Moshe, who did not acknowledge your Land, will not be buried in your Land. How so? Yisro’s daughters said, An Egyptian man saved us from the shepherds (Shemos 2:19); and Moshe heard this and remained silent. Therefore, he was not buried in his Land.

122) Did women participate in the Egel HaZahav or the sin of the Meraglim?

No, the sin of the Egel was performed with the women of the Eruv Rav only. The women did not die in the Midbar (did not believe the Mergalim’s lies) and they were able to enter Eretz Yisrael.

BeMidbar Rabbah 21:10

…the women did not join them in the episode of the Calf. The same is true of the spies מרגלים who slandered the Land and …they said “We cannot ascend” לא נוכל לעלות (BeMidbar 13:31). The women, however, were not with them in this counsel…This is why the section of Benos Tzlofchad is written near the death of the generation of the wilderness, because the men made a breach פרצו  on this issue and the women repaired  גדרו it.

123) Why did the Tanaim Rabbis kiss the boulders, repair obstructions, and move from sun to shade in Israel?

This was all done so that Jews would not complain about living in Israel.

Talmud Bavli, Kesuvos 112a-b

…Rav Abba would kiss the boulders כיפי of Akko. Rav Chanina would repair Akko’s obstructions מתקליה. Rav Ami and Rav Assi would move from sun to the shade and from the shade to the sun. Rav Chiya son of Gamda would roll around in Eretz Yisrael’s dust, because it says, For Your servants desired her stones and favored her dust (Tehillim 102:15) כי רצו עבדיך את אבניה ואת עפרה יחוננו.

Rashi, Talmud Bavli, Kesuvos 112a-b

…because of his love of the Land. He cherished is and therefore went around repairing the roads, so that people would not speak badly about them…When the sun reached the place where they were sitting and learning, and the sun beat down on them, they would get up from there in order to sit in the shade. And during the colder days…so that their students would not be able to complain about dwelling in Eretz Yisrael ישיבת ארץ ישראל .

124) Why are the stones of Israel heavier than those of Chutz LaAretz?

Eretz Yisrael is GIVEN through challengesיסורין  and hardships. Light rocks represent when everything is going smoothly and laidback (USA). Heavy rocks represent a life experience where things are difficult and serious with significant purpose (Israel).

Tosfos, Talmud Bavli, Kesuvos 112a-b

Rav Chanina would weigh Akko’s weights…As long as they were light, he said, “I have not yet entered Eretz Yisrael”. When he found them to be heavy, he said “These are none other than the stones of Eretz Yisrael. He then kissed them and recited the following verse over them: “For Your servants desired her stones” (Tehillim 102:15).

125) How can anti-Semitism properly inspire Jews to come home to Israel?

Who is a ben Eretz Yisrael? Someone who is born here or someone who chooses to live here. The Navi Yeshayahu told us that in the future (5784?) the nations of the world will rise up in anti-Semitism and call the Jews Zionists. South Africa will pass a law that Jews who serve in the IDF must stay in Israel and can’t return to Africa. The USA will pass a law that certain “Settlers” cannot leave Israel and visit the USA. The gentiles of the world will create conditions to make us identify with Israel and this will give Jews the merit זכות to actually make Aliyah. In this way the nations of the world are now bringing us back to Hashem in Eretz Yisrael as a Karban Mincha.

            Rashi, Talmud Bavli Kesubos 75a

Of Zion it will be said (Tehillim 87:5) – …in the future, when the pasuk “They will bring all your brethren as a Mincha offering to Hashem…(Yeshayahu 66:20)”  will be fulfilled. [How?] wherever the gentiles find a Jew [USA, UK, South Africa, Australia etc.] they will say, “This is one of the sons of Zion, he was born there, let us bring him there [to Eretz Yisrael]“…both those who are born there [Israel] and those who look forward to seeing her will be called “her sons” מבניה and will be brought to her [Israel]…

126) Is Eretz Yisrael acquired with suffering?

G-d forbid – No! It’s given with challenges יסורין and accepted with love אהבה. We all know that no one lives here in total comfort without any hardships. The reward received from living here is in proportion to the challenges one experiences here and the success in connecting דביקות to Hashem. Those who live in Israel without challenges יסורין should be worried; because it means that the land has not been given to them and they may not be worthy of living here long term.

Talmud Bavli, Berachos 5a

It was taught in a Bereisa: Rav Shimon ben Yochai says “The Holy One, blessed be He gave  נתןthree good gifts to Israel [the Jews] and He gave נתנן all of them only through challenges יסורין. They are: Torah, Eretz Yisrael and the World to Come עולם הבא.

127) When are Jews considered the Nation of G-d? Are our Shabbis and Holidays dependent on Israel? Did non-Jews make pilgrimages to Israel?

Only those Jews living in Israel are considered the Nation of G-d. Our entire religious calendar is all based on the times and dates of the Sabbath and Holidays in Israel. Christians historically eagerly went on pilgrimages to Israel and even built churches there on our ancestral homeland. During the crusades the Christians found a way to travel from England and France to Israel, but the Jews did not.

Sefer HaKuzari, Second Essay 15-20 (Rav Yehuda HaLevi 1075-1141)

  1. …were they worthy of being called the “Nation of G-d” עם השם(Yechezkel 36:20) only when they [the Jews] were living in the specially designated Land call the “Inheritance of G-d” נחלת השם(Shmuel I 26:19).
  2. …”The Sabbaths and festivals of G-d are dependent upon the Land of Eretz Yisrael, which is the “Inheritance of G-d”…All the nations still make religious pilgrimages to Eretz Yisrael, and desire it for themselves. All that is except us, who are in exile and suffering persecution…

 

 

About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA, made Aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. He received his Rabbinical ordination in 1997. He is also an active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Dr. Pelta is currently a full time Senior Surgeon practicing in Laniado Hospital (Netanya); specializing in the surgical care of all colorectal diseases.
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