The Land of Israel, a Gift Given Through Suffering

Dedicated in Memory of Matt Fenster z”l


The Midrash Sifrei on the Book of Devarim states that it is a Mitzvah to settle the Land of Israel and to dwell there as it says in Devarim 12:29 (Parshat Re’eh) “and you shall drive them away and live in their Land”.


The full pasuk states: “When Hashem your God will cut down the nations (yachrit… et hagoyim) whom you are coming to inherit from before you (lareshet otam mipanecha) and you shall drive them away and live in their Land”.


Rav Saadia Gaon points out that when it says “their land” it is referring to the place that the enemies are living in. The Land of Israel is our Land that was promised to Avraham and once we conquer the Land it is eternally ours.


Rosh asks why it says that God will drive away our enemies followed by the words that Israel will drive them away.


We know that God is the one who will drive out our enemies but He wants to give the people credit as they will be physically fighting for the Land as well.


The Gemara in Brachot 5a quotes a Braita which states: Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, gave three good gifts to Israel and He gave all of them only through suffering. They are: Torah, the Land of Israel and Olam Haba (the World to come).


Are we still acquiring the Land of Israel through suffering even today?


B.Z Meyer, in the book To Dwell in the Palace-Perspectives on Eretz Yisrael says that although Israel is no longer the wasteland that it had been in the past such as in the days of Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, there is suffering that one would probably not have in many of the countries where the immigrants come from such as bureaucratic headaches and employment crises.


This past week, the suffering has escalated above the regular trials and tribulations of living in Israel with rockets being shot into Israel from Gaza, even during a so called cease fire. With God’s help and the Israeli army’s “Kippat Habarzel” (Iron Dome) many of the rockets have been intercepted and the damage has been kept to a minimum.


May we go back to the suffering of overpriced backpacks and cottage cheese and may the only kippot that we have to know about be knitted verses velvet.