Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Mitzvah of Settling in the Land of Israel

The Holy One. blessed be He, tested our father Abraham:
Now the LORD said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee.
It is not easy to venture out of one's comfort zone. Certainly leaving one's country is not a simple matter. However, God promissed him that this move was for his benefit, as Rashi explains:
Get thee out, lit. go to you, for your benefit and for your good, and there I will make you into a great nation, but here, you will not merit to have children. Moreover, I will make your character known in the world.
Our father Abraham, who believed in God and feared God, did as he was told.

If one wishes to make Aliyah, to fulfill the mitzvah of settling in the land of Israel, he should not do so for the hope of gaining any material benefit. He should do it simply for the love of the mitzvah, the love of fulfilling God's Will. By doing thusly he is really actualizing his own purpose for being in This World. If one's fulfillment the mitzvah of living in the land of were to be dependent on something external, for instance if one comes to live here because he was offered an exciting job, he is standing on shaky ground. For if the job were not to materialize, or if he were to be fired from it, he would probably catch the next plane back to the Diaspora. This is similar to what is written in the Mishnah:

Any love that is dependent on something--when the thing ceases, the love also ceases. But a love that is not dependent on anything never ceases. What is [an example of] a love that is dependent on something? The love of Amnon for Tamar. And one that is not dependent on anything? The love of David and Jonathan.
Our love for the land of Israel and all of the other commandments in the Torah must be like the love of David and Jonathan. The fact that the economy is healthy, and that the land is giving forth its fruit in abundance is heartening but it is in no way our reason for being here.

King David wrote:

Thou wilt arise, and have compassion upon Zion; for it is time to be gracious unto her, for the appointed time is come. For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and love her dust.
That means that "Jerusalem will not be built unless the Children of Israel desire her in the utmost way until they take pleasure in her stones, and love her dust." (The Kuzari).

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