Special Protection for those Living in the Land of Israel


In Parshat Vayishlach, Yaakov returns with his family to the Land of Israel. He is very worried about seeing his brother Esav who had said over twenty years before that he is planning to kill Yaakov.


In Breisheet 32:8 we read: “Yaakov was very frightened and distressed.”


Why is Yaakov so worried about Esav? Why isn’t he confident that God will protect him?


Midrash Raba states: Yaakov said to himself: “All of these years, Esav has been living in the Land of Israel, maybe he will have more merits than me and overcome me because he has the merit of living in the Land of Israel all of those years (which I don’t have).”


The Vilna Gaon asks: How do we know that the mitzvah of “Yishuv Eretz Yisrael”, “Settling the Land of Israel” was already in effect in the days of Yaakov?


The Vilna Gaon answers that the mitzvah of “Lech Lecha Miartzecha”, “Leave Your Home and Go to the Land that I will Show You” which was commanded to Avraham was also given to Avraham’s descendents who came after him. Yaakov was worried since Esav was also a descendent of Avraham that he would merit extra protection since he observed the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel the entire time that Yaakov was in Chutz La’Aretz, outside of the Land.


The fact that Yaakov was worried shows us that he understood how big an impact living in Israel can have, even for someone like Esav. How much more of an impact can it have on a person who is observing the Torah and performing mitzvot while living in the Land of Israel.