Eleven years ago — prior to Aliyah, on 3 July, 1997, after participating in the Sefer Torah Recycling Network’s 2nd Hachnasat Sefer Torah in 3 days (Yishuv Sh’vut Rahel taking place on 1 July) in Yishuv Maalei Chaver, this author was being driven back to Jerusalem. On the way, we passed by, in the distance, the controversial mountain upon which would later be built the new community of Har Homa.
The conversation in the car turned to The Land; the failure of Israel to take over The Land and to evict the Arabs from it. One of the other passengers gave a maashal, a story whose cited reference this author can’t recollect. In essence, the story seemed to indicate that the Arabs are occupying for us those parts of the land which we haven’t inhabited ourselves, lest those areas be inhabited by dangerous wild animals, snakes, poisonous plantlife, etc.
There might be some validity to the maashal’s analogy but this vort means to deal with B’nai Yisrael’s possessing or not possessing The Land and the consequences of the latter.
Our parsha explains that Hashem spoke to Moshe… by the Jordan, at Yericho telling him to speak to the B’nai Yisrael and tell them (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer BaMidbar, Peek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 922-923);
When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all of the inhabitants of the Land before you; and you shall destroy all their prostration stones; all of their molten images…. You shall possess the Land as an inheritance by lot to your families…. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harrass you upon the Land in which you dwell. And it shall be that what had meant to do to them, I shall do to you.
Rabbi Artscroll (page 923) then cites the Rashbam and follows with it’s own commentary;
… If they fail to do so, they will suffer the fate Hashem had intended to impose upon the Canaanites, and be driven out.
Only in the perspective of Hashem’s wisdom can this passage be understood. No human ruler has the right to decree that an entire population is to be… exiled, but Hashem revealed that the Canaanite presence was incompatible with both the Land’s holiness and Israel’s mission on earth. History is the most conclusive proof of this, for the fact was that the Jews could not bring themselves to eliminate all of the Canaanites, with the result that the Jews were drawn to idolatry, debauchery, and were in turn periodically oppressed and finally exiled.
Yehuda Nachshoni’s “Studies in the Weekly Parashah (Parsha Masei, page 1174) cites the Ramban who says that;
Parsha Masei constitutes a legal foundation for our national resurrection in the land of our forefathers. It is our basis for being rooted in the land through conquest…, demonstration of legal posssession, through settlement…
Nachshoni then cites (ibid) the Ohr HaChayim’s interpretation of “They will vex you in the land wherein you dwell”;
This verse, he says, prophesies on the results of partial conquest, in which a hostile element remains on a part of the land. These are his words: “Not only will they take hold of that part of the land you have not merited yourselves. They will even vex you on that part of the land that you have merited and which you do inhabit, saying, ‘Get up! Leave!'”
And so we see today that because a misguided unrooted secular regime, anxious for disengagement of Israelis from their Jewish roots and spirituality, has not asserted its rightful, just, legal and complete posssession of those parts of Eretz Yisrael currently within its control, i.e. Gush Katif, Yehuda and Shomron, the Jordon Valley, the Golan, the Arabs repeatedly and brazenly claim Tel Aviv, Yaffo, Haifa and more as theirs and claim the “right of return” to Jewish land of hundreds of thousands of Arabs who were NEVER indigenous. They therefore continue to threaten Israel that if their terms for a second Arab state beside Jordon are not met, they will “abandon” a “two-state solution” and overwhelm, destroy and eliminate us by sheer numbers.
Never mind that a “two-state” solution will make us sitting ducks as the sharks; Egypt, Jordon, Syria, Iran and her clients Hamas and Hezbollah circle around Eban’s “Auschwitz borders” clamoring to toss us into the sea and annihilate us. Never mind that the regime placed and continues to place its governed, the B’nai Yisrael, in dire peril by its repeated pre-meditated, abject failure to;
- hold on to Gaza,
- to eliminate Arafat and the PLO instead of permitting them free passage to Tunis (to be resurrected later),
- to win and achieve its objectives in the Lebanon conflict,
- to forcibly liberate it’s captives rather than suffer humiliation of surrendering a mass terrorist murder and other terrorists in exchange for Jewish body-bags, one could go on and on.
And so, as the fellow passanger in that car passing Har Homa in July, 1997 indicated, because that land which was not being inhabited by the B’nai Yisrael would lay dormant, it is therefore inhabited by dangerous wild animals, snakes, poisonous plant-life…
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard and captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive and be returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.