By: HaRav Menashe Sasson
מאת: הרב מנשה ששון
A question which is often asked is: “Who is a Jew?” The usual answer is, “A person who was born to a Jewish mother or a person who converted to Judaism in accordance with Halakha.”
A related, but different, question which could be asked, is: “What is the defining attribute of a Jew?” The answer to this question can only be: “The Torah.” We know this answer is correct because without the Torah, there could be no Halakha. Without Halakha, there could be no legitimate or authoritative answer to the question, “Who is a Jew?”
In other words, without the Torah, there would be no Jews, no Judaism, and, of course, no Jewish people.
The term “Zionism” means a “national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.”
Thus, because the purpose of “Zionism” is to benefit “the Jewish people,” and because, without Torah, there could be no “Jewish people,” it follows that the term “secular Zionism,” that is, non-religious Zionism, is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. There is not, and by definition cannot be, any such thing as “secular Zionism.”
Parasha Eqev begins:
This shall be the reward when you harken to these ordinances, and you shall observe and perform them; HaShem, your G-d, will safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers. He will love you, bless you, and multiply you . . . in the land which He swore to your fathers to give to you.
Debarim 7:12-13 (italics added).
Parasha Eqev continues:
Perhaps you will say in your heart, “These nations are more numerous than I; how will I be able to drive them out?”
In other words, HaShem is saying that if the Jewish people keep the Torah, including but not limited to, driving out the inhabitants from whom the Land is being taken, HaShem will bless the Jewish people “in the land,” that is, in Eretz Yisra’el, not in Brooklyn, Beverly Hills, Barcelona, or Bombay.
Why is HaShem’s blessing for Torah observance seemingly limited to “in the land,” as opposed to other places in the world?
Parasha Eqev continues – and repeats itself: “The entire commandment that I command you today you shall observe to perform, so that you may live and increase, and come to possess the Land that HaShem swore to your forefathers.” Debarim 8:1.
One implication which can be derived from the portion of this pasuk which states, “you shall observe and perform, so that you may live and increase. . . .” suggests that a Jew might not live and might not increase outside of the Land. In other words, this pasuk is suggesting that the only true defense against anti-Semitism is for a Jew to make Aliyah, that is, to immigrate to, and reside in, Eretz Yisra’el.
One question that might reasonably be asked is: What right do I, as a Jew, and the whole of the Jewish people, have to “drive out” the Arabs who once were a majority of the population in Eretz Yisra’el? Parasha Eqev answers:
Do not say in your heart, when Hashem pushes them away from before you, saying, “Because of my righteousness HaShem brings me to possess this Land and because of the wickedness of these nations did HaShem drive them away from before you.” Not because of your righteousness and the uprightness of your heart are you coming to possess their Land, but because of the wickedness of these nations does HaShem, your G-d, drive them away from before you, and in order to establish the word that HaShem swore to your forefathers, to Abraham, Yizhaq, and Ya’aqov. And you should know that not because of your righteousness does HaShem, your G-d, give you this good Land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.
Thus, we see that the Jewish right to possession of Eretz Yisra’el is superior to that of the Arabs simply because HaShem gave the Land to the Jewish people, because HaShem swore to our forefathers that the Jewish people would inherit the Land, and, lastly, “because of the wickedness of these [other] nations,” not because of any merit on our part.
Additionally, recent history cements the Jewish right to Eretz Yisra’el in international law. In 1947, the United Nations, through a “Partition Plan,” created separate Jewish and Arab states in so-called “Palestine.” The Arabs, both within and without Eretz Yisra’el, rejected the Partition Plan and called for what an Arab League official referred to as “a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” The Arabs believed that they, with the British troops leaving, could exterminate the Jews and create an all-Arab state.
The Arab plan failed miserably. Not only did the Arabs lose the war against the Jews, the failed Arab plan led directly to the creation of the modern State of Israel – Medinat Yisra’el. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs – mostly the educated and elite – fled to neighboring Arab countries.
All the land that the Arabs could have had, if only they had accepted the U.N. Partition Plan, was now lost. After the 1948 war, entire cities and villages that were formerly Arab came under the control of the newly-created Jewish state.
Not only did the Arabs in Eretz Yisra’el lose land in the 1948 war, they also transitioned from being a majority, to being a minority, of the population. Indeed, HaShem, in spectacular fashion, kept his promise to the Jewish people.
A similar miracle occurred in 1967, during the 6-Day War.
Hashem has given Eretz Yisra’el to the Jewish people. All we need to do is accept this gift by keeping the Torah and misvot.
One issue which concerns many Jews who contemplate Aliyah is how to earn a living in Medinat Yisra’el. Unless these new immigrants – Olim Hadashim [עולים חדשים] – are retired and are receiving retirement income, they will need to be able to continue earning a livelihood after making Aliyah. Although the particulars of the answer to this question will be different for different people, the Torah provides reassurance:
HaShem “afflicted you [for forty years, in the wilderness] and let you hunger, then He fed you the manna [המן] . . . in order to make you know that not by bread alone does man live, [but] rather, by everything that emanates from the mouth of HaShem does man live.”
Debarim 8:3, 8:6-10.
Some potential Olim Hadashim [עולים חדשים] might wonder if it is safe to live in Medinat Yisra’el. Parasha Eqev answers this question as well:
Hear O Yisra’el [שמע ישראל], today you cross the Yarden, to come and drive out the nations that are greater and mightier than you. . . . But you know today that HaShem, your G-d, . . . He will destroy them and He will subjugate them before you; you will drive them out and cause them to perish quickly, as HaShem spoke to you.
This, however, is not a promise of individual safety. Rather, it is a promise of collective safety. If the Jewish people follow the Torah and “drive . . . out” from Eretz Yisra’el those who refuse to accept Jewish sovereignty over the Land, HaShem will protect the Jewish people, as He has done many times before.
We are living in momentous times. No longer do we stand on the threshold of the Messianic era. With the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty through the formation of Medinat Yisra’el, we have entered the Messianic era.
The establishment of Medinat Yisra’el after the Holocaust; the return of the Jewish sovereignty after 2,000 years of exile; the revival of the Hebrew language, a language that heretofore had been not, for centuries, been widely used as a spoken language; the beginning of the ingathering of Jewish exiles from all parts of the globe; is not a coincidence.
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