- Family and Society
- Land of Israel
I read in a recent Wall Street Journal article about a Smith Poll showing that 55% of Israelis support the creation of a Palestinian state. This is after almost two years of horrible murder and terror incited by the Palestinian Authority. Despite all of the warnings that “a violent wave of anti-Semitism could erupt in America,” Israel is still by far the most dangerous place for Jews to live. Since a majority of Israelis seem to be suffering from war fatigue and a suicidal delusion in supporting a Palestinian state - which would unquestionably pave the wave for an Arab victory over Israel - wouldn’t I be placing myself and my family in serious danger if we were to come on Aliyah?
My Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, often spoke about the important difference between Bilaam and our forefather Abraham. Bilaam possessed the power to direct the sources of evil by channeling the instant of Divine wrath which exist in the world every day. Bilaam’s essential character was to curse and to wage war against goodness and truth. He gazed on the world with an evil eye. In “Ethics of the Fathers,” it is explained that everyone who has a good eye is a student of our forefather, Avraham Avinu. Avraham was filled with love and sympathy for the world. He loved G-d and he loved mankind. He looked at the world in a positive light. Out of his great love for G-d, he moved his family to the Land of Israel, even though it was filled with idol worshippers and uncivilized people. Avraham had the special trait of a good and sympathetic eye. His opposite, someone possessed with an evil eye, is a student of Bilaam, the wicked. Seeing the Land of Israel with a sympathetic eye is a trait that the Jewish people inherited from Avraham, our father. This trait also stands out in Moses, who viewed the Land in a positive light. “I pray Thee, let me go over and see the good Land that is beyond the Jordan, and the goodly mountain region and the Lebanon,” he beseeches G-d. He yearns for the Land even though he knows it is filled with hostile enemies whom the Jewish People will have to conquer in war. Joshua and Calev ben Yefuneh also possessed this great love and positive orientation towards the Land of Israel. In the wilderness, spies were sent out to reconnoiter the Land. They came back with a disheartening report, discouraging the people from journeying on to the Promised Land because it was filled with fearsome giants. They said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” They spread an evil report of the Land, saying, “The Land that we have spied out is a Land that eats up its inhabitants.” Only Joshua and Calev stood up in defense of the Land, declaring, “The Land which we spied out is an exceedingly good Land…a Land which flows with milk and honey. Rebel not against the L-rd, nor fear the people of the Land, for they are like bread before us; their defense is departed from them, and the L-rd is with us, fear them not.” The importance of having a positive orientation towards the Land of Israel is once again seen as the Jewish People are about to enter the Land after their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The tribes of Reuven, Gad, and half the tribe of Menashe decided that they would rather receive their inheritance on the fertile, eastern bank of the Jordan, and not join in the fight to conquer the seven nations dwelling in Israel. Moshe rebukes them for rebelling against the commandment of the L-rd and for discouraging the will of the people, saying, “Shall your brethren go to war and you sit here? And why do you dishearten the children of Israel from going into the Land which the L-rd has given them?” Inspired by Moses’s chastisement, these three tribes rallied themselves, not only to join in the fight, but to lead the way into battle all during the seven years of conquest, before returning to their families on the other side of the Jordan. Their bravery and spirit of self-sacrifice for the Land of Israel has stood by the Jewish People for thousands of years. One thing must be clear – the Land of Israel belongs to all of the Jewish People. Not only the Jews living in Israel must rise up to defend it. All of us are called upon to take a part in its redemption, for it is the redemption of the Land of Israel which paves the way for the redemption of the Jewish Nation as a whole. ---------------------------------------------------------------- (1) Berachot 7A. (2) Zohar, Achrei Mot, 63B. (3) Ethics of the Fathers, 5:19. (4) Ibid, 6:1. (5) Deuteronomy, 3:25. (6) Numbers, 13:31. (7) Ibid, 13:32. (8) Ibid, 14:7-8. (9) Numbers, 32:6-7. (10) Orot, Eretz Yisrael, 1, by Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook. See also, “Lights on Orot,” by Rabbi David Samson, chapter 1.