Israel Forever

For the week ending 20 December 2008 / 23 Kislev 5769

A Gift With Strings Attached

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

"Yaakov wished to finally enjoy some peace in Eretz Yisrael and there came upon him the trouble concerning Yosef."

This is Rashi's commentary on the very first passage of this week's Torah portion.

Although Rashi, citing the words of our Sages, applies this to the concept of the constant challenges that Heaven poses to the righteous, we may perhaps see in it a hint to the situation of Yaakov's descendants, the Jewish People who live in Eretz Yisrael.

This can be understood in light of the statement of our Talmudic Sages that Eretz Yisrael is one of the three wonderful gifts that G-d gave to our people but that it comes with strings attached – the suffering that we must endure.

Maharsha explains that suffering is an inseparable part of life in Eretz Yisrael because this is what reminds us of our dependence on G-d and prevents us from becoming obsessed with our own national achievements.

This is an important perspective for Jews in Israel who suffer from terrorism and the threat of a nuclear enemy. Our response to internalize our total dependence on G-d is what will eliminate that suffering and secure Israel forever.

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