- Torah Portion and Tanach
- Achrei Mot
"After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein you dwelt (asher yoshavtem ba), you shall not do, and after the doings of the land of Canaan, where I bring you (asher ani mayvee etchem shama) you shall not do, nor shall you walk in their statutes. (Levit. 18:3)
Hearing this must have greatly depressed the Israelites. What a misfortune to be associated with two lands, two nations whose pagan culture was morally and religiously the lowest of all nations. (Rashi)
After spending centuries in Egypt as slaves, they were probably happy to be told that they must abandon and forget all the doings of the land of Egypt. Good riddance! But the land of Canaan was the "Promised Land" where they came as nomads into an agricultural economy where they will need the practical "know how" of the natives. Under these circumstances, how will they be able to prevent fraternization and assimilation? Ever since, Jews who have lived in the Diaspora are familiar with this problem.
The solution of course, is to reject "their statues" and to observe Hashem’s Torah: "My statutes and My ordinances". However, observance of Torah must have two dimensions if it is to ward off assimilation.
1. Lolechet bohem "To walk therein" Your Torah must be broad enough to accompany you in all walks of life: home, family, business, community.
2. V’chai bohem "To live by them" Your Torah must be intensive and deep.
You must see in Torah, life itself. Your love of Hashem and your understanding of the "whys and wherefores" of Judaism must touch the very reasons for your existence.
However, the most challenging interpretation of the above passage for the Jews of today is as follows:
The most sinful "doings of the land Egypt" was that you "dwelt there". That is, after a while you didn’t consider this "galut" but your home wherein you would seek your fortune and settle your offspring for the next generations. You were there to stay!
And, the most sinful "doings of the land of Canaan" is that I had "to bring you there", screaming and kicking. You didn’t go voluntarily. Even when you have the opportunity, you have lost the vision of "returning home".
Says the Torah: This kind of "doings of the land of Canaan", you shall not do!
The sovereign State of Israel, historic home of the Jewish people, awaits you! Ayeka? Where are you?
This is a weekly column contributed by Aloh Naaleh an organization devoted to motivating Jews to make Aliya.
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