The Land of Israel is a Jew’s only true home, as evidenced in this week’s Torah portion, “Lech Lecha.”
The Jewish people’s right to the Land of Israel is not the result of anti-Semitism, persecution, the Zionist Declaration or the United Nations vote in favor of a Jewish state. The Jewish People’s right to the land of Israel stems from the Torah, the Bible. God, the Creator of heaven and earth, revealed Himself to Abraham and told him to leave his homeland and go to the land that would be given to him and his descendants forever (Genesis 12:7, 13:15, 15:18, 17:8).
Although Abraham was the father of many nations, the eternal promise of the Land of Israel was explicitly made to his descendants, through his son Isaac or, in other words, to the Jewish people (Genesis 21:8). This is why the Land of Israel is frequently referred to as the “Promised Land,” as indeed, it was promised to the Jewish People.
Jews have lived in the Land of Israel since its conquest by Joshua over 3,000 years ago. This took place 40 years after they were freed from Egyptian slavery and became an independent nation united by the Torah that God gave them at Mount Sinai. Since then, the Land of Israel has never been completely devoid of Jews. Even during the periods of exile and destruction, Jews have continuously lived in the Land.
The Land of Israel is a vital component to Judaism. The sages tell us that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people so that they could observe the Torah in the Holy Land. Indeed, over 200 of the Torah’s 613 mitzvot (Torah commandments) are dependent on the Land of Israel and can be performed there only. Some of these mitzvot are even dependent on the Jewish people controlling the land. The great Rabbi Moses Nachmanides (1194-1270) wrote that true credit for mitzvot is given only when performed in the Land; outside the Land of Israel, they are merely practice.
The Jewish people belong in the Land of Israel. While there are many wonderful countries such as the USA and Canada that have welcomed the Jews and treated them equally, only Israel is a Jew’s “home and native land” (yes, I’m also Canadian!). Indeed, a Jew who lives outside the aLnd of Israel is known as one who lives in the “Galut,” meaning “exile.”
Not all Jews live in Israel. Some are currently unable to make the move to Israel for all sorts of legitimate reasons. Nevertheless, a Jew must always remember that Israel is his or her one and only true home. Don’t take my word for it…it’s a message from God.
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below;
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