THIS IS MY LAND
Rabbi David Walk
One of the most ironic Midrashim ever written references this week's Torah reading. This Midrash declares that there are three places on earth concerning which no one can ever question their Jewish ownership, and they are
A thousand words (the average length of these pieces) is not nearly enough space to cover this topic. However, I will review a few of the most famous answers and then present a novel approach to this issue.
There are those who claim that the special nature of
In a similar vein, the mystic Rabbi Shlomo Alkebetz wrote: Just as some countries yield more agricultural produce than others, and some countries produce more silver, gold and precious stones than others, so too all types of perfection flow from this country. Therefore, it is called "the city of justice," because justice grows there, as do other types of perfection. The sanctity of the land is not like that of other lands; it also has a divine element (Brit Ha-Levi, Teshuva, Third Principle, 41). Again, the Jewish nation is responsible to maintain justice and ethics and must dwell there to receive and then to dispense these blessings.
That naturalistic approach is also espoused by the modern scholar Prof. Yehuda Elitzur. He explains that the rain cycle was the clearest and most evident sign of the nature and quality of Eretz
Following in the profoundly Kabbalistic Zionist teachings of Rav Yehudah HaLevy, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook wrote: Eretz
Rabbi Chasdai Crescas (1340-1411) looked in a different direction when he wrote that God is everywhere and relates to all locales. However, God doesn't relate to them all equally, and, therefore
This brings us to an idea propounded by Rabbi Joseph D. Soloveitchik in his book The Emergence of Ethical Man. The Rav acknowledges the uniqueness of his proposal, but clearly proclaims that kedusha or holiness in this world is a result of human effort. The sanctity of a Torah scroll emerges through the efforts of a scribe writing the words of God upon the vellum. He extends the concept of Rav Crescas to say, 'the sanctity of the land denotes the consequence of a human act, either conquest or the mere presence of the peole in that land. Kedushah is identical with man's association with Mother Earth (p. 150).' The Rav insists that there is no 'objective metaphysical quality inherent in the land.' I think that's why Avraham when he returned from
Sarah and Avraham created this holiness and this relationship to the land. Again, I quote the Rav, 'A soil is sanctified by historical deeds performed by sacred people.' This soil was hallowed by our forefathers by their mitzvoth, prayers and deeds. Our attachment to the land is through emulation of their behavior. I'll leave legal arguments to lawyers. This is emotionally satisfying. It's my land, because I'm their heir.