Israel Forever

For the week ending 17 May 2003 / 15 Iyyar 5763

Whose Land Is It?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The crux of the conflict between Israel and the Arabs is really about ownership whose land is it?

The Torah perspective on this burning issue can be found at the very beginning of the Chumash and in the chapter which Jews will read in synagogues this Shabbat.

The Torah begins with a statement that G-d created the world. Rashi explains this unexpected beginning for what is basically a Book of Law as a Divine response to those who challenge the claim of G-ds chosen people to the land which He gave them. This declaration to the nations of the world that G-d created the world and can award any portion of it to whom He wishes receives an interesting spin in this weeks portion when it is the Jews who are reminded whose land it is.

"For the land is Mine," says G-d in restricting the sale of land in Eretz Yisrael, "for you are sojourners and residents with Me." (Vayikra 25:23)

This is an important reminder to our own people that the true owner of the land is G-d, and He has established conditions for our ability to even be "sojourners and residents" in it. And if it is peace and security we desire in our land we are reminded in an earlier passage (ibid. 25:18) that "You shall perform My decrees and observe My ordinances and perform them; then you shall dwell securely on the land."

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