Living Torah

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel

Some of the Torah’s laws only apply to Jews living in the Land of Israel, including the areas of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria that are a part of biblical – and future – Israel.

The Promised Land, known in Hebrew as Ha’aretz Hamuvtachat, is the land promised and given by God to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac. The Land has also been known as “The Land Of Canaan,” “The Holy Land” and “Palestine.”

The “West Bank” is the area known in the Bible as “Judea and Samaria.” The promise is first made to Abraham, confirmed to Isaac, and confirmed again to Jacob. The entire Promised Land encompasses the territory from “The River of Egypt” to the “Euphrates River.” These borders, however, will only be functional when the Messiah arrives.

Let’s look at the sources.

Genesis 12:2: God said to Abram (soon to be renamed Abraham), “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”

Genesis 12:7: God appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring [or seed] I will give this land.”

Genesis 15:18-21: On that day God made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates – the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.

See also Numbers 34 and Ezekiel 47 for more on the exact borders.

What we see is that according to all accounts, the State of Israel occupies only a fraction of the Promised Land!

Not only do the Torah and other religious texts declare that the Land of Israel belongs only to the Jewish people, but secular sources do as well! Let’s take a look:

Balfour Declaration-1917.  The Balfour declaration states:  “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The Mandate for Palestine-1920-1922.  The Mandate for Palestine clearly delineates to whom what land does and does not belong.  The “Mandate for Palestine,” established the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, a 10,000-square-miles area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.  The legally binding document was conferred on April 24, 1920, and unanimously approved on July 24, 1922.

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181. On November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed Resolution 181 which called for the partition of the British-ruled Palestine Mandate into a Jewish state and an Arab state. It was approved with 33 votes in favor, 13 against, 10 abstentions and one absent.  The Jewish State was to be all of Canaan, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the Arab state was to be what is today Jordan.

The Israeli Declaration of Independence-1948.  The declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel clearly states that the land of Palestine was the birthplace of the Jewish people, that they had been forcibly exiled for about 1800 years and that their desire to return since the exile began had not diminished nor been forsaken.  It also declares that this right to return was recognized in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations in 1922, and was finalized by the UN General Assembly Resolution 181.

View from Givat Hamatos neighborhood of Jerusalem. (Photo: Flash90)

View from Givat Hamatos neighborhood of Jerusalem. (Photo: Flash90)

And get this: Even THE KORAN says that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews! Let’s see:

Surah 5:20-21: “Recall that Moses said to his people, ‘O my people, remember God’s blessings upon you: He appointed prophets from among you, made you kings, and granted you what He never granted any other people. O my people, enter the holy land that God has decreed for you, and do not rebel, lest you be brought down.’”

Surah 17:  Surah 17 clearly states that the Children of Israel will be exiled twice (17:4), it records the destruction of the First Temple, and Mohammed never contests the Bible’s claim that the Temple was in Jerusalem!

Surah 17:104: “And we said to the Children of Israel afterwards, ‘Go live in this land. When the final prophecy comes to pass, we will summon you all in one group.’”

Some of the Torah’s laws only apply to Jews living in the Land of Israel, including the areas of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria that are a part of biblical – and future – Israel. These include agricultural laws such as the Shmita (Sabbatical year) and tithes, not to mention most agricultural laws. Indeed, 26 of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah are contingent upon the Land of Israel. Certain parts of the current territory of the State of Israel, such as the Arava and Southern Negev, are considered by some religious authorities to be outside the Land of Israel for purposes of Jewish law. According to these authorities, these religious laws do not apply there.

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