Israel Forever

For the week ending 19 October 2002 / 13 Heshvan 5763

The Four Promises

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Four divine promises were made to the Patriarch Avraham that Eretz Yisrael would belong to him and his posterity forever. All of them are to be found in the weekly Torah portion which will be publicly read in synagogues this Shabbat.

When Avraham first entered Eretz Yisrael he was promised that the land he had already traversed would be given to his posterity (Bereishet 12:7) but its geographical extent was not stipulated. Only after he gained spiritual merits by dwelling in the land for a while did he receive a second promise that the entire land of Israel would belong to his posterity, which would be as numerous as the dust of the earth and it would be theirs forever (ibid.12:15).

The third promise contained a vision of Greater Eretz Yisrael and a guarantee that even if his posterity sinned they would not forfeit their right to inherit the land (ibid. 15:18-21). When Avraham was commanded to circumcise himself as a bond between him and his Creator he received the fourth and final promise that even if his posterity should ever be exiled from the land they would inevitably return to it because it was their "eternal inheritance". Added to this promise was the assurance that "I will be their G-d", a wonderful description of the special relationship of the Creator with His chosen people (ibid. 17:18).

As we reflect upon these four promises, as detailed in the commentary of Ramban, we should keep in mind that the return to the land which we have been privileged to enjoy in our time is inextricably intertwined with the special relationship we maintain with the Creator Who gave us this land and returned it to us and us to it forever.

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