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Beit Midrash Jewish Laws and Thoughts Foundations of Faith

Chapter 30

30. The Preeminence of the Holy Land (Continued)

Just as the nation of Israel is God's Chosen People, so too the land of Israel is God's Chosen land. This land was designated as an inheritance for the Jewish people since the time when God established the respective boarders of the world's nations.
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In what follows, we will continue illuminating the preeminence of the Land of Israel according to what the Rabbi said to the King of the Khazars. The Rabbi explained that just as the nation of Israel is God's Chosen People, so too the Land of Israel is God's Chosen land. This land was designated as an inheritance for the Jewish people since the time that God established the respective boarders of the nations of the world. The land of Israel fulfills a Divine role.
Foundations of Faith (50)
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
29 - 29. “You have shamed me, King of Khazar”
30 - 30. The Preeminence of the Holy Land (Continued)
31 - 31. Regarding the Holy Temple in Jerusalem
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Indeed, the patriarch Abraham was only made fit to receive the Divine influence after reaching the Land of Israel. Only when he was situated in Israel did God enter into a covenant with him—the Pact Between Halves (see Genesis 15).

The Rabbi said to the King: "Just consider the lengths to which the forefathers went in order to settle in the Land of Israel, despite the fact that it was then populated by idolaters. Consider how much they thirsted for the land when they were not there. They even went out of their way to make sure that their deceased bodies would be brought to Israel and buried there, as we find with Jacob and Joseph.

"Just look at how Moses himself pleaded with God to allow him to enter the land, and how difficult it was for him to accept the fact that he would not be granted this privilege. Moses considered God's allowing him to just look at the land from afar a great act of kindness: 'Climb up to the top of the mountain and direct your eyes to the east, north, south, and west, and see with your own eyes.' Just to view the land without entering it was a great privilege for Moses.

"Even the nations of the world are aware of Israel's elevated status. In the past, they would send sacrifices to be offered up in the Holy Temple on their behalf. They would similarly request that prayers be recited for their sake in the same Holy Sanctuary. Even today, we find that people bestow abundant honor upon the land of Israel even though the Divine Presence no longer reveals itself there. To this day many religious sects make pilgrimages to Israel and harbor great affection for the land, as is well known.

"Because of the land's greatness, the Sages taught, 'All ascend to the land of Israel, but not all descend from it.' Accordingly, they concluded that if a woman does not agree to immigrate to Israel with her husband, she can be divorced and the husband need not provide her with what she ought to receive according to their marriage contract. The opposite is also true: if a man does not agree to immigrate to Israel with his wife, he must allow her to immigrate, present her with a bill of divorce, and give her whatever she deserves according to their marriage contract.

"They furthermore expressed Israel's superiority in a very emphatic manner, saying, 'Whoever lives in Israel is akin to one who has a God; whoever lives outside of Israel is akin to one who has no God.' Indeed, David, when he was forced to flee from the Land of Israel, said 'For they have exiled me from my attachment to God's inheritance, saying to him, "Worship other gods."

"Even just dying in the land of Israel is a great privilege. The Sages say that, 'Whoever is buried in the Land of Israel is considered as if he were buried under the altar [of the Holy Temple].' When Rabbi Haninah was asked if it is permissible to go abroad in order to fulfill the commandment of marrying a deceased brother's widow, he responded bitingly, 'His brother married a gentile? Blessed is He Who struck him down! Now he wants to leave Israel in his brothers footsteps?!'

"In other words, the behavior of the brother who left Israel and got married abroad was so inexcusable that he was seen to have married a gentile. It was thus inconceivable that his brother should leave Israel in order to marry his widow.

"In addition, the Sages forbade selling land in Israel to a gentile. They also taught that 'the air in Israel makes one wise,' and that whoever walks four cubits in the land of Israel is guaranteed a place in the World to Come."
These, then, are more of the positive traits that the Rabbi related to the King of the Khazars regarding the Land of Israel.

Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
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