Torah Fax

Friday, August 10, 2007 - 26 Menachem Av, 5767 

Torah Reading: R’ei (Deuteronomy 11:26 - 16:17)
Candle Lighting: 7:43 PM
Shabbat ends: 8:45 PM
Pirkei Avot Chapter 6

Jordan Crossing

In the beginning of this week's parsha, after Moses discusses the blessings and curses that will be visited upon those that keep G‑d’s commands (or violate them), Moses continues: "For you are crossing the Jordan to come and take possession of the Land, which G‑d your G‑d, is giving you. You will take possession of it and settle in it. So be careful about observing all the suprarational commands and rational commands that I am presenting before you today."
The question that arises when we read the last few sentences is the emphasis on the crossing of the Jordan River. Why is it so important to mention that they will enter the Promised Land by crossing the Jordan? It could have just stated: "For you are going to come and take possession of the Land…"
Rashi, the Torah's principal commentator, responds to this question and explains that the mention of the crossing of the Jordan was to indicate that "the miracles they will experience when they cross the Jordan will be a sign that they will enter and inherit the land."
Several questions can be raised on Rashi's answer:
First, why was there a need for new miracles to impress upon them that they will inherit the land. Weren't the old miracles, among them the recent conquest of the land of Sichon and Og, sufficient proof of their ability to settle the land?
Second, Rashi does not say that the miracles would demonstrate that they will be capable of "conquering" the land, but rather to "enter and inherit" the land. We could easily understand that it may take a miracle to conquer a land from a formidable military force. But why would a miracle be necessary to enter and inherit the land?
One can answer these questions by analyzing the meaning of the words "enter" and "inherit" employed by Rashi. When we use the word "enter" in conversation it lacks any profound meaning. However, in the context of entering the Promised Land, "entering" conveys a rather important concept. One could physically go from one place to another, but that does not necessarily mean that the person has truly penetrated into the place that he or she entered. "Entering the land" in the Biblical context means to identify with and become part of the land.  
Likewise, the word "inherit," when used casually simply means that one has taken possession of something. In the Torah's usage of the word "inheriting" it means absorbing and internalizing that which one has inherited. In the same way as the Torah is described as "an inheritance," likewise the Land of Israel is not just a place that belongs to the Jewish people, it is an integral part of them.
In simple language this means that one can go to the Land of Israel and not identify with its true nature and character. When the Land of Israel and its inhabitants are two distinct entities, then these inhabitants have never truly entered or inherited the land.
It is for this reason that Moses reminded them of the miracles they will experience in the crossing of the Jordan. These miracles were to serve as reminders that they have the requisite spiritual ability to truly enter the land and inherit it in the full sense of these words.
Our relationship with Israel is unique. No other nation has ever identified with a geographic location the way the Jewish nation has. But our relationship to Israel is not a nationalistic or chauvinistic one. It is based on the principle that when G‑d created the world, he created it with a purpose and a plan to make the world a good and G‑dly world. He then chose the Jewish people to be the messengers to deliver His plan to the entire world.
To facilitate the execution of our G‑d given mission, He also created a unique land; a land that fuses the physical and spiritual in the most harmonious fashion. This land is best suited for the Jewish nation to help them to reveal their own spiritual potential so that they can fulfill their mission.
However, in order for us to reap the benefits from entering and inheriting the land, we must recognize and respect its true character by realizing its unique nature and by living our lives in consonance with G‑d's plan.
This explains why Moses had to remind them of the miracles they will experience when they cross the Jordan. This was a way of impressing upon them that there was something unique about their entering into and inheriting the land. This was not to be a conventional conquest and possession of a country.
Entering the Land of Israel was to set into motion the process that would literally affect the entire world. For it is from this Holy Land that light was generated to the entire world, inasmuch as Israel is the center of the universe in the most important sense of the word. It is from this chosen land that G‑d's plan for the entire universe will be realized, culminating with the final Redemption through Moshiach. At that time, all of the Jewish people will return to Israel , to live in peace and harmony. From there peace will finally come to all the nations of the world.   


Moshiach Matters       

The destruction of evil in the Messianic Era will transform human life beyond recognition. The battle against evil is so woven into our lives that its removal will create a different world — a world without locks and policemen, without guns and punishment, without disgrace and hate, without jealousy and money-lust. Children will not fight with their parents and teachers.

Moshiach - It’s a Jewish issue. For more info, visit


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