Israel Forever

For the week ending 22 November 2008 / 24 Heshvan 5769

Old Claims and New

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Claims of foreigners to the land promised by G-d to the Patriarch Avraham for his descendants are hardly new. The Talmud tells us of the time that the descendants of Yishmael and the children that Keturah bore to Avraham presented a claim to a portion of the land since they too were heirs of the Patriarch. They came before Alexander of Macedon, who then ruled over Eretz Yisrael, and cited the Torah passages which traced their lineage to Avraham.

Gaviah ben Pasisa received permission to act as the Jewish representative to refute their claims. He cited passages (Bereishet 25:5-6) from this week's Torah portion, which state "Avraham gave all that he had to Yitzchak. But to the concubine children of Avraham he gave gifts and sent them away." Does a father not have the right, asked Gaviah, to dispose of his possessions during his lifetime as he wishes?

This episode can be seen as a preview of today's efforts of Yishmael's descendants to claim a land that belongs only to the Jewish people who will own Israel forever.

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