“For The Land Belongs to Me”

Moshe Kempinski

The Torah portion of Behar begins with the words;” And Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai ( Behar Sinai) saying, Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them: When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land shall rest a Sabbath to Hashem. (Leviticus 25:1-2)

Rashi asks the classic question that has become part of the Hebrew idiom and parlance. The words “MA INYAN SHMITA EITZEL HAR SINAI” is used in modern Hebrew to mean, What does one thing have to do with the other .In our Torah portion Rashi is asking the question ;Why must we be told that this specific set of laws in all its detailed form was taught on Mount Sinai ? Weren’t all the laws given at Mount Sinai? The verse wishes to tell us, Rashi explains, that just as with the sabbatical year, both the general principle and its minute details were ordained on Mount Sinai, so, it is with all the commandments–their general principles as well as their minute details were ordained on Mount Sinai . (Torat Kohanim; Rashi).

The immediate implication of this teaching is the simple understanding that G-d did not only reveal the “written Torah” at mount Sinai but also relayed to Moshe the understandings and explanations that would come to be known as the “oral law”.

Yet the connection between Sinai and the land of Israel we see in these verses runs deeper as well. G-d gave His people the Torah at Sinai so that it could be fulfilled to its fullest in the land that He was to give them as well “And Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai saying, Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them: When you come to the land that I am giving you,”(ibid)

The Modzitzer Rebbe , Reb Shaul Yedidya Elazar (zt’l) a deep lover of the land of Israel explained that the words in the verse in the following way

When you come to the land that” I “ am giving you,( Asher ,”Ani “,Noten Lachem )(ibid ) That is to say that “ when you come into the land , then G-d will give you your “Ani”, your “personhood”, your “ I ”. It is only in the land of Israel that you will discover your inner purpose and destiny and become the “Ani”, the “I “that you were commanded to be in fulfillment of the words spoken at Mount Sinai.

Yet that insight of the Modzitzer Rebbe (zt’l) reveals yet another level of understanding. It is not only the personal Ani that becomes revealed in the land of Israel but also the ultimate Ani of Mount Sinai”with the declaration of “Ani Hashem Elokeichem ..I am Hashem your G-d”

The existence of the Jewish people in spite of exile and persecution is a silent and clear testimony to the existence and faithfulness of G-d. Yet it is the return of the Jewish people to the land of promise that becomes the most eloquent and joyful expression of G-d’s stated purpose. It is then that the Holy and awesome “Ani” is truly revealed.

The survival and flourishing of this people in this land becomes a sanctification of Hashem’s name. As Hashem says in the book of Ezekiel “and the nations shall know that I am Hashem-is the declaration of Hashem G-d-when I will be sanctified through you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your land.( Ezekiel 36:23-24).

The rebirth of the state of Israel is not just about the people of Israel returning to the land, it is about the revelation of Hashem in His land. ;”… for the land belongs to Me, for you are strangers and residents with Me.( Leviticus 25:23).

We have all been given the privilege of being the ink and the words Hashem is using to write the last chapters of His scroll. Every Jewish family that returns to the land achieves one thing..Every tree that is planted and every home that is built is a fulfillment of one promise. Every holy drop of blood that is painfully shed by the terrorists and murderers around us, as we saw this week with the murder of Evyatar Borovski ( HY”D), is redeemed by only one mission” And the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, Hashem, have built up the ruined places and have planted the desolate ones; I, Hashem, have spoken, and I will perform [it].

( le-refuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved)

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