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PARASHAT HASHAVUA:
 

Parshas Kedoshim
Our Obligation to Settle The Land
Rabbi Chaim Lobel
 
Leviticus; Chapter 19, Verse 23) “When you shall come to the Land and you shall plant any food tree, you shall treat its fruit as Orlah (forbidden); for three years it shall be Orlah to you, they shall not be eaten.”
 
The Medrash Tanchuma (Chapter 8) comments on G-d's commandment of “and you shall plant.”
G-d is telling the Jewish people, “you will find the land filled with abundance of all good. It will not be desolate. Do not say 'we will dwell in the land but not develop or plant in it.' Rather, be very careful with its settlement. Just as you entered a land fully developed and planted, so too you must further develop it for your children after you”.
 
From the Tanchuma, it seems the reason one is obligated to develop Israel is because the Jewish nation received it fully inhabitable. In other words, just as the Jewish nation entered a country ready for its settlers, so must each generation work to insure that the next generation also inherit a fully developed land.
 
Why is the obligation of settling Israel based on the fact that the Jews received a developed country? Wouldn’t the commandment makes sense regardless of how the Jews received the land? Of course we should take care of the land G-d has given us. Of course we should preserve and develop the land for future generations. Why does the Tanchuma insist the commandment is grounded in G-d’s gift of giving a fully developed land to the Jewish nation to the Jews?
 
Because logic alone is insufficient. What if a man has no children or plans to sell the land? What if he cares not what will happen in the future? In that case, the Tanchuma says, you still have an obligation to repay the favor that G-d did for your forefathers and your forefathers, in turn, did for you. Just as you have benefited from the work of prior generations, so do you have a responsibility to future generations. And that responsibility stands regardless of what circumstances and logic may suggest.
 

***

Rabbi Chaim Lobel is the Rabbi of Young Israel of Aberdeen, Congregation Bet Tefilah, Aberdeen, NJ. http://www.yiaberdeen.com/index.html


 
   
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