Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Mishpatim
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Shubert Spero

"And I will set your borders from the Sea of Reeds to the sea of the
Philistines and from the wilderness to the River..." (Shemot 23:3)

The geographic borders of the Promised Land are described many times in the Torah, sometimes in general terms and sometimes in greater detail. In Bereishit we are told:
"In that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram saying: To your seed have I given this land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates." (Bereishit 15:18)

See also Bamidbar 34:1-12 and Devarim 1:7.
These descriptions are the "ideal" or perhaps the potential borders of Israel. Already in the days of Joshua we learned to accept the geo-political realities as well as the spiritual condition of the people, and to live within the real borders that these factors made possible.
However, the borders of the Promised Land were always open ended, just as the possession of the land itself was conditional. While in some directions the borders seemed fixed by nature, in other directions they remained undetermined.
"Every place whereon the sole of your feet will tread, shall be yours; from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates even to the last sea shall be your borders" (Devarim 11:24).

here is a suggestion here of unlimited expansion. Indeed the request of the two and half tribes to settle on the east bank of the Jordan was granted even though that had never been part of the original plan of the land of Canaan.
Wherever the borders will ultimately be drawn, they will reflect "wherever the sole of your feet shall tread," that is to say, wherever our people have walked, lived and settled. Claims to a land cannot be based solely on Divine promises or historical documents. The promise of the land will be fulfilled when our people seize every opportunity to return and build a national life as we are doing today.
We read in Tehilim
: "You will rise and have compassion upon Zion. For it is time to be gracious unto her for the appointed time is come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones and love her dust" (Tehilim 102:14-15).

Jerusalem will be rebuilt only when the people of Israel yearn for it to such an extent that they embrace her stones and dust. And Jerusalem will remain ours only as long as our people’s love for the land leads to Aliyah. Every Jewish family must have at least one of its members living in Israel!

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