Israel Forever

For the week ending 24 September 2005 / 20 Elul 5765

Enough to be Thankful For

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

As Year 5765 draws to a close we look back not only on the year gone by but on three and a half thousands of years of the history of our People. In this weeks Torah portion we learn of the mitzvah of bringing bikkurim (first produce) to the Beit Hamikdash and offering thanks to G-d by reciting an encapsulated history of how we got to Eretz Yisrael.

This capsule history, which forms the outline of our Pesach Haggadah account of the Exodus, is striking not only in what it contains but also in what it leaves out. The suffering of our ancestors in Egyptian bondage is graphically described and so is our miraculous liberation. This is immediately followed by mention of our arrival in the "Land flowing with milk and honey". Forty years of wandering in the desert, the record of which fills a substantial part of our Torah, are not mentioned at all.

This is an important lesson in how to deal with history. We are commanded by the Torah to constantly remember a number of things which took place during those forty years the Mount Sinai revelation, the attack of Amalek, the punishment for Miriams slandering Moshe, and our angering G-d with our misbehavior. But all of those memories are put aside the moment when we say thanks for the privilege of living in our Promised Land and enjoying its fruits. This is the time to focus on one thing alone the sharp contrast between slavery in a foreign land and freedom in our own and all thanks to G-d who heard the prayers of our ancestors in Egypt and gave us our freedom and our Land.

When we reflect on another year of life in this Land, difficult as it may have been in many ways, we must offer thanks to G-d for sustaining us despite all the hardships, and pray that He will continue to protect Israel forever.

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