Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Kdoshim
To dedicate this lesson
Aloh naaleh



Various Rabbis

In this week's parashah we are commanded about orlah - not to eat the fruit that grows in the first three years after a tree has been planted. In the fourth year the produce is "holy" and there are restrictions on how it may be eaten. Only in the fifth year may the owner enjoy unrestricted use of the tree's fruits.
The Or Hachayim points out that the Torah commands three successive mitzvot: coming to Israel, planting trees to provide sustenance and beautify the land, and the restriction on the fruits. The Dubna Maggid observes that just as one of God’s first actions in the Garden of Eden was planting trees, so too when we enter Eretz Israel, we must imitate Him and immediately plant trees. Settling the land of Israel is a mitzvah, and developing its economy is an integral part of this duty. But the question arises why is it so important to immediately plant after arriving in the country?
The Maggid explains that through the mitzvah of orlah the Torah teaches us an important prerequisite for successful aliyah: It is crucial that one have the proper mindset when pursuing business interests in Israel. A person must honestly decide whether he seeks financial success so that he may live a life of luxury and comfort, or whether his motive is truly le-shem shamayim, for the sake of Heaven?
Economic development in Israel is a tremendous mitzvah but it poses serious danger: "Lest you eat and are satisfied and you build homes...and you forget the Lord your God" (Deut. 8:12-14). Our parashah teaches us that when making aliyah one must not forget God. Controlling one’s desires the first three years and praising God in the fourth is meant to remind us that economic prosperity is not supposed to be a vehicle for personal aggrandizement, but a means for realizing loftier ideals.
Adam was created outside of Eden and then planted therein. Restrictions were placed on the fruit that he was permitted to eat, but he failed to observe them. It is up to the people of Israel, who were forged into a nation outside of Israel and then planted in their Garden of Eden, to repair the sin of Adam (Vayikra Rabba 25).
May it be God’s will that we succeed in living a holy and meaningful life in our potential Garden of Eden - Israel. Let us remember why we are here and have no need for external reminders!

Chana Tannenbaum teaches Torah in many different venues in Israel. She and her family made Aliyah ten years ago and live in Nof Ayalon.
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