The original Divine Promises are all linked to the Land of Israel – Eretz Yisrael. And strangely, it is this linkage to the Land which is always at stake and lacking in the preferences of His People. With the term ‘His People,’ we like to refer to the broader encompassment of 12 Tribes – 2 having remained identified (the House of Judah, the Jews) and 10 (the House of Israel) having lost their Israelite Identity and exiled into oblivion amongst the nations of the World – but with the Divine Promise of re-identification in the End Times and Return to the very Land of their forefathers.
We find this lack of preference for the Land in the 1st Exodus from Egypt when only 20% of the 12-Tribed nation chose to follow Moses to the Promised Land. After the Babylonian exile of the House of Judah (by that time, the 10 Tribes were already scattered amongst the nations and have remained there unto this Time), even less than 20% returned with Ezra to rebuild Jerusalem and the Land. The majority of the spiritual leadership chose to remain in Babylon. During and after the Holocaust in modern times, again, the majority chose not to return to the Land. Those who did return were imbued with a spirit of Zionism – a much condemned and abhorrent concept amongst the Jew-hating nations – even amongst the leftist Jews of the World today.
Zionism is defined as the Jewish nationalist movement that has as its goal the creation and re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel. It is commonly overlooked that all the original Divine Blessings were linked to possession of and remaining in the Land. Remaining and being prosperous in the land again was conditional upon conforming to the Will and requirements of God for His People as defined in the Torah and regulated through the Tribe of Judah by Divine Mandate (Ref. Judah, the Lawgiver of God). Non-compliance would result in the Land ‘spewing out the People’ – which resulted in the exile first of the 10 Tribes, 2700 years ago and to date, and also to the House of Judah, 2000 years ago. Judah has been returning in miraculous fashion since 1948 and has rebuilt the Land to ‘Top 10’ status amongst the nations in just 70 years.
What is also overlooked by the opposers of Zionism is that the Original Blessings to the Patriarchs of the nation of Israel (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) were all about possession and Blessings in the Land which their innumerable descendants would enjoy in the Land (descendants even from amongst the Gentiles – ref. The Blessing of Abraham). Christianity which grew out of Judaism, has changed this Promise to “Eternal life in an Heavenly abode as an Angel playing the harp and where there is no more labour and worldly problems to solve – just bliss..”
- Possession of and Blessing in the land was the Goal of the 1st Exodus.
- It was the Goal after the Babylonian Exile.
- It is and will be the Destination after the Ingathering into the Land of all 12 Tribes from amongst the Nations in the End Times in a 2nd Exodus, which will exceed the 1st Exodus in grandeur (Jer. 23:7.8).
- And it will be the Domicile of the Universal Kingdom of the God of Israel.
“For I will cause the captivity of the land to return as at the first, saith HaShem.” Jer. 33:11
Should that not be something to strive for?
Our Web Page, Confirmations of the Return of both Houses of Israel, all 12 Tribes, and their Reconciliation into one Nation of Israel, features some 100 references from the Holy Scriptures about this End Time Event. The word ‘Land’ (referring to this Divine Promise by Oath) appears 114 times in these 100 sections. Defining the Land is even far more often referred to using terms like “the Place”, “the Mountains of Israel,” etc. These all define the Land as the Promise.
Yet, Strangely, the Land is not that popular amongst Jews. Only 50% of World Jewry has returned to the Land after the Holocaust and the re-establishment of a Modern reborn State of Israel.
And only a trickle of the millions of 10 Tribers throughout the World who are being awakened to Torah restoration in preparation for their Prophetically defined return to the Land and their re-uniting with Judah into a restored 12-Tribed Israel, are eager and willing to join the Jewish in usation in order to return to the Land of Israel. Most of those who are eager to make Aliyah to the Land of Israel, however, give preference to their resistance against Halachic Judaism and Rabbinic authority.
May the Message of this week’s Parashah, as reviewed here below, ignite in us and in re-awakening Ephraima a voracious fire of love for the Land, its Peoplem and its God.
Let us now turn to a commentary on this week’s Parashat Devarim which reviews this Scriptural Reminder for this momentous time leading up to Tishah B’Av – that awesome recompense that our forefathers earned for not putting the Destination of the Promised Land as their foremost Goal, for not trusting Him to guide, protect and bless them in the Land; for not being prepared and willing to conform with His Torah requirements for governing this Land and humanity in general. Tisha B’Av” this year will begin in the evening of Wednesday, 29 July 2020.
Commentary: Parashat Devarim
Belonging To the Land
An obligation of responsibility for this generation and the next.
Commentary on Parashat Devarim, (Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22)
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“…You have dwelt long enough at this mountain. Turn and journey, and come to the mountain of the Amorites and to all its neighboring places, in the plain, on the mountain, and in the lowland, and in the south and by the seashore, the land of the Canaanites, and the Lebanon, until the great river, the Euphrates River. See, I have set the land before you; come and possess the land which the Lord swore to your forefathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them and their descendants after them.” (Deuteronomy 1:7-9)
A Clear Message
The idea of belonging runs deeply throughout the Torah, and particularly in this week’s Torah portion, Devarim. For the Jewish people, belonging is manifested in not only the sense of belonging to a people but also a very deep sense of these people belonging to a land. We belong to the land of Israel, and only here can a deep aspiration for wholeness in our home be fulfilled, and can we then truly manifest as a nation. While being a light unto the nations may sometimes require us to bring messages of healing from slavery, and spiritual brokenness and exile to the farthest corners of the earth, the essence of our tikkun (repair of ourselves and of the world) is strong Jewish life in the Jewish Homeland.
Reading Torah as an organic whole, a message stands out: This is how the world needs to be fixed — you, the Children of Israel, need to live according to the mitzvot (Divine commandments), not just anywhere, but “in the land which I will show you (Exodus 12:25).” That is to say, the world will be fixed by the Jewish people doing God’s will in the land which God gave us.
The Next Generation
One such expression of God’s will is caring for the Land of Israel. To live in exile is to live a contradiction. If a person does not live in his or her homeland, having no concrete expectation that his or her descendants will be living on the same land, then what reason is there to treat the land right, to live sustainably, and to ensure that the resources and health of the land will be there for future generations?
Human beings are hard-wired with instincts to protect and feed our children; these instincts can and should reinforce our attitudes towards our land. We should feel just as strongly that our land and its health must be protected. We should know in our bones that they are one and the same. But when we do not live in our land, when we are separated from that deeper commitment, then we are disconnected from the wholeness of our instincts.
To do the ‘right’ thing according to Torah, and to do the right thing according to secular morals or science, are often seen in opposition. But even to make a separation between the environment and society–or to separate nature from the world of human interaction, speech, morals, and behavior — is a classic example of the mentality of dualism so prevalent in Western culture. Yet as Jews we know that the spiritual environment is not separate from the natural environment. People who treat other people horribly while seeking to protect land or sustainability are not doing anything laudable; the Nazis, for example, were big proponents of organic gardening.
American Indians have a saying: Decisions should be made for the ‘seventh generation.’ Conduct in a land, the way one treats the environment, is best determined by having in mind what will be best for one’s descendants. One’s great-grandchildren, it is presumed, will be living in and dependent on that very same land. Deep ecology moves from the family outward: the only truly responsible way to make decisions is to have the seventh generation in mind–and the many, many generations of microorganisms, plants, insects, and animals that constitute the web of life on which all depend. In Devarim, the Torah is trying to clue us into this logic but is rightly placing a deeper rationale above any simple self-interested rationalism (or nationalism).
Linking Our Actions and the Land
We learn that not only our own health and prosperity, but the health of the land, depends on our conduct:
Deut. 11:13-21 “And it will be, if you hearken to My commandments that I command you this day to love the Lord, your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, I will give the rain of your land at its time, the early rain and the latter rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil. And I will give grass in your field for your livestock, and you will eat and be sated. Beware, lest your heart be misled, and you turn away and worship strange gods and prostrate yourselves before them. And the wrath of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will close off the heavens, and there will be no rain, and the ground will not give its produce, and you will perish quickly from upon the good land that the Lord gives you. “
This is really an environmental concept: our national moral conduct helps make it rain, helps the soil be healthy, helps bring the blessings of the Divine on all life in the land. This is a holistic prescription: if we fulfill our role, peace will envelop Israel–its land, its people–and the entire world. The fabric of life on earth is interwoven and interdependent. Our conduct — our self-control over the numerous collective human efforts that create and pollute — is essential to maintaining the health of this fundamental web of life on which we all depend.
Jews are meant to be a light unto nations: by living in an exemplary way, by fully and proudly manifesting our mission in our national homeland, and by conducting ourselves in ways that respect both the eternal laws revealed in Torah, and the natural laws on which life on earth depends. To be ecologically responsible, to be spiritually responsible, and to be politically responsible: these are all really the same thing at the root. The Torah teaches us again and again how we must treat trees, plants, animals, and individual people. In Devarim, we learn how we must relate as a nation to our land.
About the author
Matthew Mausner – is a historian, teacher, and writer in Jerusalem. He is currently completing a thesis on tribal identity and belonging at Israel’s Bar Ilan University.
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