Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Capture of Jericho - the Lock and Key for Possession of the Entire Land of Israel for Eternity

Matters pertaining to the Torah of Israel and the nation of Israel apply also to the Land of Israel. There were times when not all of the Land had been conquered. For example, when the Jewish People entered the Land of Israel, initially they conquered Jericho, thereafter the city of Ai, then further landmasses. Only after seven years was the entire Land finally conquered.

View looking towards Jericho
Years later, in the time of Jeroboam ben Nevat there took place a division among the Jewish people. Then came the Babylonian exile (after the exile of Sennacherib who had captured part of the land). The entire land had come under the control of gentiles. Later, even when the Temple stood, not all of the Land had been reconquered, neither were the majority of the Jewish People.

Collapsed and Burnt Ancient Walls of Jericho from the time of Joshua
The perspective today towards the Land of Israel should be the same as to Torah (and the Jewish Nation): that one be versed only a small portion of Torah should know that the entire Torah is one.

The same is true of the Land of Israel; when the Jewish People entered the Land at the beginning of the seven years, the first location conquered was Jericho. Our Sages tell us that they did not conquer Jericho as a single city or only as the beginning of a seven year conquest; rather Jericho was taken because it was the lock of the Land, the key of entry to the entire Land. Jewish law states that the point of transfer of property is when the purchaser has key in hand.

That at the time of the conquest of Jericho the intent alread was for the conquest of the entire Land which would still take seven years, with Canaanites still occupying the city of Ai. Those nations knew well that the key had been captured, and at some point their city would also be taken. The Gibeonites upon hearing of the capture of Jericho took multiple underhand steps for a peace treaty, even to pay tribute. For this reason the Girgashi (Canaanite nation) turned and fled even before the Jewish people had approached them.

When the Canaanites saw that the lock of the Land of Israel had been captured they realized that their presence anywhere in the Land was no longer sustainable. 

This conquest transferred ownership of the Land of Israel to the Jewish People as an everlasting inheritance; not as a temporary conquest, but the Land became an inheritance and  gift from G-d for all eternity.

Later, the difference would only be whether the Jewish people would dwell upon the Land, or "Woe to the father whose sons have been exiled from his table". [Regardless, the table remains the table of the father [G-d], and the sons remain sons of their father! The father is only waiting for the return of his sons (to repent) and seat themselves once again by his table. However, G-d forbid to suggest that because they have been exiled from his table, he is no longer their father, or this is no longer his table.

The same is true of the Land of Israel. From time the Jewish People were exiled from their land [even when Assyria entered the inheritance of the ten tribes, she did not become [part of] the land of Assyria G-d forbid - but remained the Land of Israel! [Even though some Commandments could no longer be performed].

The Land of Israel belongs to the children of Israel with G-d's covenant with our Patriarch Abraham  is an eternal covenant. When the Jewish People left Egypt and stood at Mount Sinai [and received the Torah], then continued on to the land of Israel conquering the land by the conquest of Jericho [the lock of the Land], as of that time the land was no longer the land of Canaan; could no longer be the land of Babylon [by conquest], not the land of Media, Greece or Edom even when the Jewish people dwelt in the exile of Babylon, Media, Greece or Edom.

Even should a Jew dwell outside of the Land of Israel, - he retains a portion in the Land of Israel, and the Land retains her name - the land of [belonging to the nation of] Israel, that even gentiles call her the Land of Israel and the Holy Land. 

                                                                                                       13th Tammuz 1969 

Part 2

The Name of Our Land

There are those that argue the need to respond to those who are not prepared to use the name ארץ ישראל - 'Land of Israel', rather by the name מדינה - 'State'. 

G-d calls her the Land of Israel, and designates her borders - "from the great river Euphrates will be your borders" [Joshua 1.4]. This is the legal decision of Torah, and Torah is eternal. 

We are in exile, exiled from our Land, because of our sins. Nevertheless she remains our Land.  We have been distanced from the Land of Israel, not Canaan [as some would have us believe].  Even gentiles who are there, have no hold over the Land of Israel, but over wasteland without settlements [see Rashi commentary Number 26.32]. 

The soul of a Jew is in the Land of Israel 

A Jew, wherever his body finds itself, his soul is in the land of Israel. It is known that the prayers of the Jewish people always ascend the Heavenly Heights through the Land of Israel. Everyone - even small children know that when he prays the 18 blessings, he faces eastwards towards the Land of Israel. Since the essence of a Jew is not his body but his soul which is bound with each of his prayers in the land of Israel, one must conclude that in reality he is there. Only his body entered into exile! 

Go ask a Gentile!

Whether the exile is outside of the land of Israel, or within Israel [where the exile is even more bitter being 'the land where the Eyes of G-d gaze continuously from the beginning to the end of the year' [Deuteronomy 11.12], yet, he imagines that this is a country like any other country. In order for the test to be eased, ask a gentile: "which country lies between Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt?", he responds "this is the Holy Land". Should one ask him "how do you know that this is the Holy Land?", he responds: "this is clearly written in the Torah - 'the land where the Eyes of G-d gaze continuously from the beginning to the end of the year'. 

Nothing to fear from Gentiles!  

There is nothing to fear from gentiles - never were they masters over the Land of 
Israel. Rashi states, 'that it was G-d Who created it, and it was He Who gave it to whomever he so desired [the Canaanites], and thereafter took it from them and gave it to us'! G-d decided that 'the inheritance of nations' [even when our Patriarch Isaac lived there was it still called the land of Canaan; yet, from the moment the Jewish nation conquered the land [by taking hold of her lock - Jericho], she became the Land of Israel.  

No Jew has the right to hand the Land over to Gentiles!

Since it was G-d Who brought the Land into our possession no Jew has the right to hand this over to gentiles! How is it that you want to give away a portion of the Land?! This is not your's to give! This was given to you by G-d! 

Even an assimilated Jew

A Jew, even having sinned always remains a Jew; never can he change this! Rather, he remains exactly as a child sitting at his father's table. As soon as he is born [without being a Torah sage] he is eligible to inherit his father! 

The same is true here: every Jew inherits the Land of Israel, an inheritance from the Living G-d. So has the living Torah designated! Just as an immature child already is eligible to inherit his father. The same is true of a Jew, even if not observant, possesses a G-dly soul [a part of G-d from above] and inherits everything which G-d leaves to him - "you are children of the Lord your G-d".

Inheritance has no limits

One who imposes limitations upon this inheritance, the law is that one who imposes conditions upon anything written in Torah are null and void". No conditions, announcements, of compromises will help him [regarding inheritance and ownership of the Land of Israel]. Every Jew must to use this freedom of choice given to him and not make any changes regarding 'our Land' and 'our soil'. 

 There are certain mitzvos that currently we do not perform because they are applicable only when the entire Jewish nation dwell upon the Land'. However regarding the Land of Israel, even should we be in exile, the moment the land was no longer 'the land of Canaan', from the time of Joshua's conquest of Jericho, the 'Everlasting Covenant' became a reality, that 'from the great river Euphrates' will be our Land! Not a State of Israel, but the Land of Israel!

Gentiles themselves are asking us to stop making this an issue 

Gentiles themselves are asking us to stop making this an issue: "you conquered this [the land] - reside there and enjoy! Gentiles have no objections; the only  objections come from the evil inclination of the Jew! Instead of taking advantage of the freedom of choice given to him by G-d to choose what is right, prefers to choose the wrong! Why [asks the Rebbe] are you listening to the voice of this kind of king, old man and fool?  

We once spoke of the following. In our prayer for forgiveness the liturgy says 'may we be forgiven for the sin which we have committed with our evil inclination. But, do not all sins have their source in the evil inclination? By way of explanation:  There are some sins for which even the evil inclination has no interest - he knows full well that a Jew has no contact with this. This is the sin we commit before You with the evil inclination. 

The Jew himself brings upon himself the fear of that gentile! This gentile has already fallen from his position of authority, running and shaking in fear - and yet, the Jew is afraid of him, even running after him calling to him: "listen - don't be afraid of me!"                                    
                                                                                                 13th Tammuz 1969