Episode #13 The Holy Land | Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Reinman

In this episode, Rabbi Reinman explains the concept of the holiness of Eretz Yisrael and how it impacts the current state of affairs in Israel.

 Chapter Thirteen

The Holy Land

When God told Abraham to leave Harran and continue on his journey from his homeland, He said, “Go forth from your land, your birthplace, to the land I will show you, and I will make you into a great nation.”  He did not immediately identify the ultimate destination. He just indicated that he should continue to put distance between himself and his homeland.

Abraham continued on his journey, and when he finally reached Shechem in the land of Canaan, God appeared to him and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” Why didn’t He tell him immediately that he was headed for Canaan and that Canaan would become the homeland for his descendants? Rashi explains that He wanted to keep Abraham in suspense because anticipation would increase his appreciation for the special gift of the land. The gift of the land is a recurring theme throughout the Torah. Again and again, the promise of the land is reaffirmed. It is remarkable. How do we understand it?

Now, when God promised Abraham that he would be the patriarch of a great nation, it was understood that there would be a homeland. Great nations arise in national territories. What was so special about the gift of the land of Canaan? Was it its great beauty? Its majestic mountains? The white beaches on its long seacoast? Its lush valleys? Its orchards, pastures and farmland? Was it because it was a land flowing with milk and honey? Were these material qualities meant to excite Abraham?

If the material advantages of the land of Canaan made it so special, it also had serious material drawbacks. Canaan, which became Israel, lies at the very center of Asia, Africa and Europe, the three great continents that form one huge contiguous landmass, the great majority of the inhabited surface of the world. Israel has been a strategic battleground for thousands of years. Great empires have always fought over Israel. Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Turks and British all conquered Israel and established bases there at one time or another. Israel is not the safest place in which to build a great nation.

Clearly, Abraham was not excited by the material benefits of Israel but rather by its spiritual benefits, its holiness. Israel was the place where the Divine Presence would rest among the Jewish people when they would build the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.

How do we understand the holiness of Israel? Why did God choose this particular place? If He had chosen a different place, a safer place, wouldn’t that land be equally holy?

Let us investigate …

Read full chapter and earlier chapters at www.rabbireinman.com.

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