Tisha B’Av — Kinna #37 – Israel is the place for a Jew to live

קינה ל”ז

ציון קחי

This kinnah has four  potential authors:

R. Shlomo ibn Gabirol,

R. Avraham Hachozeh,

R. Avraham ibn Ezra,

R. Elya ben Menachem HaZaken.

This kinnah describes the unique natural gifts that Eretz Yisrael is blessed with. Waters that have curative powers, earth filled with precious gems/metals and delicious fruits. This kina spends time describing the praises of Eretz Yisrael. This may be as a kappra for what happened on the first 9th of Av.

Rectify sin of the spies

The meraglim (spies) on the ninth of Av sinned when they spoke badly about Eretz Yisrael, claiming that it is  “A land that eats its residents (Bamidbar 13,32) ,” thereby causing the Jews who were in the desert to despise it. They also sinned by declaring that Am Yisrael did not have enough strength to conquer the Land, thus weakening the hearts of the rest of the nation.

Lashon Harah about the Land
The greatness of Eretz Yisrael is evident in the mere fact that it is an aveira to speak lashon harah about the Land. The prohibition of speaking lashon harah is usually limited to people. There is no concept of speaking lashon harah about physical objects such as rocks. However, lashon harah is considered a sin in regards to the Land of Israel. It follows that the punishment for speaking badly about Israel is unusually stringent, to the extent that even the generation that received the Torah at Har Sinai could not escape the punishment to die in the desert and not enter the Land which they had slandered.

The generations following that of the spies are obligated to rectify the spies’ sins, to praise Eretz Yisrael and to thank Hashem for giving us the Land as a precious gift. This especially applies to our generation. Therefore it is doubly important to continuously repeat the words of Yehoshua and Calev  “The Land is exceedingly good (Bamidbar 14,7)”.

Settle the Land

The mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel does not involve only conquering it, but also requires the settling and developing of every part of it. The Ramban stresses this point that “We should not leave the Land under foreign rule or desolate, as it says: you should inherit the land and settle it.”

Plant Fruit Trees (tell the JNF)

Planting fruit trees in Israel fulfills one aspect of this mitzvah. There is no mitzvah to plant fruit trees outside of Israel. Those living in Eretz Yisrael, however, have the mitzvah of planting fruit trees regardless of their profession.

(Vayikra Rabba 25,3), “It is said that one should go after Hashem. Is it possible for flesh and blood to go after Hashem? It is also said that one should cleave to Hashem. Is it possible for flesh and blood to cleave to Hashem? Rather one should go in his ways, and cleave to his character traits. And just as Hashem, at the beginning of creation, first planted and tended to the Garden of Eden, so too should Am Yisrael upon entering the Land, as it is written: ‘You should come to the Land and plant.'” We learn from this that one that plants a tree in Eretz Yisrael is cleaving to Hashem’s character trait.

The trees of Eretz Yisrael, as we experience during shemitta, bear fruit that have intrinsic kedusha. When we eat these fruits, in non shemitta years, many mitzvos are performed, such as trumah, maasoros and orlah.

The Rambam wrote (Hilchos Malachim 5,12) “A person should live in Eretz Yisrael forever. He should live in Israel whether it is in a city where the majority of its inhabitants are not Jewish or where the majority of its citizens are Jewish. He should not live outside of Israel, for one who leaves Eretz Yisrael for the galus is as if he is worshipping idols.”

The Rambam wrote a unique halacha (Melachim 5,10): “Great Rabbis would kiss the ground of Eretz Yisrael, and kiss its stones as well as roll in its dust as it states: because your slaves wanted its stones and begged for its dust.” At first glance one would ask how could the Rambam write about such actions and deeds in a book devoted to halacha? Which halacha that we learn from our rabbis would involve kissing the earth and hugging the stones of the Land of Israel? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to write about these actions in books of ethics rather than halacha? Indeed this is a great halacha to learn: It is not enough to live in Eretz Yisrael, one should also love the good and holy Land.

At the end of Ketubot (112,a) it is written that when Rabbi Chanina was traveling in Eretz Yisrael and would see a obstructions in his path he would remove it, as he didn’t want anyone to think or speak badly about the roads or the places where the obstructions were located.
It is also told that in order to prevent complaints about Israel, Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Assi would be extremely cautious as to where they sat their students. In the cool morning hours they would sit them in the sun and in the warm afternoon hours they would sit them in the shade. Their students were comfortable and, therefore, did not think badly about the Land or its climate.

את בתוך גוים “You Eretz Yisrael have been placed in the center of the world”

In past year in the month of Av, the world under the leadership if USA Presidents Obama,  signed a nuclear deal with Iran. Practically giving Iran the finances to continue funding terror attacks on Israel and to eventually develop nuclear weapons. Weapons Iran has repeatedly sworn to use against the Jews in Israel.

Thus in recent news – Israel and Jews have been the center of the world’s media attention.

Eretz Israel is the center of the world. Yerushalayim is the center of Eretz Yisrael. The Beis Hamikdash is the center of Yerushalayim. The heichal is the center of the Beis Hamikdash. The aron hakodesh is the center of the heichal. We are in the center of all.

אף לא יסלה עפר ארצך בזהב ופז “Indeed one cannot value the dust of Your land with plain gold or fine gold”

The dust of Eretz Yisrael is compared to gold. We know in the Talmud stories of rabbis rolling in the dust of Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Chazah used to roll in the dust of Eretz Yisrael.

בחמור היה לפנים לבן יאיר, חמוריך – ” Your donkeys are as intelligent as the donkey that belonged to Ben Yair”

(אור החיים במדבר כג:י) States that Bilam harasha who tried to curse the Jewish people was punished by having his neshama come back as (a gilgul) the donkey of Rav Pinchas Ben Yair.

(ירושלמי שקלים ה:א, חולין ז.) This smart donkey would not eat stolen food and was machmir on the laws of maser ! This donkey learned that it is important to use his mouth properly.

איה דבירך מקום ארון – “o where is Your Holy of Holies, the resting place of the Aron?”

אריאל…שובי לאל – ” Ariel !…return to G-d !”

Ariel is the Beis Hamikdash. The Beis Hamikdash was shaped like a lion; wide in the front and narrow in the back.

(מדרש) The lion is represented by Nebuchadnezer of Bavel who destroyed the first Beis Hamikdash. Av is the month of Leo the lion. Nevuchadnezer the lion destroyed the lion of G-d. However, in the month of Av the lion, Hashem the lion, will rebuild Ariel. We go from mourning to rejoicing.

(תהילים קמז:ב)

“בונה ירושלים ה’, נידחי ישראל – יכנס !”

Hashem build Yerushalyim, the outcast of am yisrael, bring them into the Land. This is us currently living in Eretz Yisrael!

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 is also a active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Currently practicing in Laniado Hospital in Netanya and at Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv, part of the Assia Medical group; speciaizing in the surgical care of all problems of the colon, rectum and anus.
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