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The “Fall” of Eretz Yisrael


Rabbi Moshe Erenreich

The Torah, in describing the inheritance of Eretz Yisrael by Bnei Yisrael uses the term "falling to you" (Bamidbar 34:2). What is the significance of this terminology? Rashi brings two possibilities: 1) We find the verb used in reference to lots, which were used in dividing the Land. 2) The midrash says that Hashem knocked down the angels in charge of the existing nations of the Land to show Moshe that Bnei Yisrael would succeed in overcoming them. Another midrash (Rabba 23:6) elaborates that this was the response to the spies’ claim that Bnei Yisrael had no chance.
In general we understand that the spies were mistaken in not appreciating the special sanctity of the Land. What was the root of this mistake? A midrash (ibid.:11) presents a parable of a king who first imported mates for his servants, until he realized that it would be wiser to take his male and female servants and mate them one with the other. This symbolizes the special relationship that Hashem has both with the chosen Land and the chosen nation, which makes it a perfect match to bring the two together.
The Sefat Emet (see Masei 646-8) says that when Bnei Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael, a special aura fell upon Bnei Yisrael, similar to the "extra soul" that one receives on Shabbat. At the same time, a special aura of the "Heavenly Land" fell down to the physical Land. The problem had been that the spies had experienced the Land before the nation entered it, and, therefore, it was not yet the sacred Land that it was destined to become. This caused their tragic and destructive lack of appreciation.
We can learn from these ideas that the more connected we become to the Land, the holier it will become and the holier we will become. Hopefully, we will be spared of repeating the spies’ mistake.
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