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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Ekev

Parashat Ekev

Egypt and Canaan

3018
Dedicated to the memory of
Hana Bat Haim
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In Parshat Eikev, the Torah contrasts the water supplies of Egypt and Canaan. In Egypt, fields are irrigated by the Nile, but in Canaan, the land "drinks water from the rain of heaven" (Devarim 11:10). Ramban explains that agriculture is not easier in the land of Israel. Quite the contrary: the Nile provides a reliable year-round water supply, while in Israel one depends on seasonal rainfall. This, however, forces Israel to observe the commandments, or else G-d will withhold rain!

The Torah continues that Israel is a land which "God cares for ... the eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year" (11:12). One can be of two minds about this. There are those who would probably prefer that God not be looking over their shoulders, so to speak. In fact, R. Meir of Rothenburg (13th century) wrote that sinners should stay away: it is one thing to sin outside of Israel, but quite another to rebel against the King inside His own palace! At first glance, R. Meir’s statement contradicts a midrash which quotes God as saying: "Even if they profane it, would that they were in their Land!" But there is no contradiction. On the individual level, sinners should stay away; but as a nation Israel is the only place for the Jewish people.

God’s special attention to the Land of Israel boils down to this: The destiny of the Jewish people was, is and will be forged by what happens there. No place else on earth can make that claim.

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