Choosing the Blessing of the Land of Israel

In Memory of Sylvia Levin

In Parshat Ki Tavo, before his death, Moshe presents B’nai Yisrael with both a blessing and an admonition.

Part of the blessing is that B’nai Yisrael will prosper in the Land of Israel (Devarim 28:7-8) “God will set your enemies who rise against you smitten before you; by one road they will approach you but by seven roads they will flee from you. God will order upon you the blessing in your storehouses and in all your commerce; and He will bless you in the land that HaShem your God is giving you.”

The flip side of this blessing is the admonition: (Devarim 28:63-65) “It will happen that as God rejoiced over you to benefit you and to multiply you, so will God bring joy to others over you to remove you and to destroy you; and you will be uprooted from the land that you are coming to inherit. God will disperse you among the peoples from the end of the earth to the end of the earth; and you shall serve there other gods which neither you nor your ancestors knew, wood and stone. And among the other nations you will not be tranquil and there will be no rest for the sole of your foot; and God will give you there a fearful heart and pining eyes and disillusioned spirit.”

Haamek Davar explains that the blessing of the Land of Israel will be that there will be so much prosperity in the land that merchants and vendors will not have to travel abroad to make their fortunes.

As far as the admonition, we see that when B’nai Yisrael didn’t observe the commandments, they were sent to exile. Rashi and Onkelos don’t believe that the verse should be taken literally to mean that they worshipped other gods. Rather, they will be forced to pay taxes to the priests of other religions.

Throughout Jewish history, Jews were never fully at home in any other land, whether it be the Crusades, the Blood Libels, The Black Death, the Spanish Inquisition, The Holocaust and the list goes on and on.

Today, we still have to deal with anti-Semitism all over the world as well as the BDS movement which is becoming stronger especially on college campuses.

In Israel, we see the blessing of prosperity being reinstated with many businesses thriving throughout the country. Israel has been very successful in exporting produce and goods throughout the world and Israel is considered the Start Up Nation with people from all over the world looking to invest in Israeli technology.

Although Israelis have to pay taxes (which nobody is ever happy about), their tax money is going to help fulfill the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel and build up and support the modern State of Israel.

We are lucky to be living at a time where we can choose the blessing of the Land of Israel.