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Shabbat Parashat Naso 5774

Ein Ayah: Accepting a Persons Past Background

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Bikurim 9:35)

Mishna: [Those who greeted the bringers of the bikurim would say:] “Our brothers, the residents of the place called Ploni, bo’achem l’shalom (your arrival shall be in peace).”


Ein Ayah: Factionalism and unity, when they are intertwined in a proper way, are pillars of happiness and social success. This is true both in the realm of international relations and within a nation, between the different subgroupings within.

Every nation has special qualities, both in the spiritual and in the material realms. There may be a nation that is large and powerful and other nations will be drawn to it. The large nation will do well if it realizes that with all its power, it should not swallow up justice and correct behavior. They should realize that while it is good to unify many powers into one central entity and join under one flag when the flag bearer is spiritually worthy, still all the individual components should preserve their national heritages when their traits are not destructive.

The same phenomenon is true in regard to a metropolitan city, its state’s capital and intellectual center, in relation to the surrounding suburbs and agricultural towns, which visit and impact upon the city. It is important for the members of the central city to recognize the residents of the satellite areas with brotherhood and a spirit of partnership. Thereby it is worthwhile for everyone to turn to the central place as a beacon of light and not try to set up competitive centers, which will cause divisions. The respect the city-dwellers give to the visitors does not have to take away from the residents’ rights in their own cities, whether in material or spiritual matters. With the right attitude, they will even make allowances for the differing customs and viewpoints of the visitors (see Yerushalmi, Pesachim 4:1). They can see what is special in the spiritual and material characteristics of each town while appreciating the importance of drawing all together in unity.

That is what the people of Yerushalayim did in respect to the bringers of bikurim. They referred to them as “our brothers,” as those who come with brotherhood to take part in a unifying experience in the central city which also houses the Mountain of Hashem. Despite the element of unity, they referred to them as residents of the place called Ploni, expressing that they have no interest in erasing the significance of their place of origin and recognizing that it is only natural that the visitors take pride in and have affection for their place.

This also serves as practice and a lesson regarding times of world peace, which Israel will yet experience through the Torah whose ways are ways of pleasantness and peace to all nations. The Torah refers to “a foreigner (this pasuk is not referring to a convert), and a resident, and one who lives with you” (Vayikra 25:35). Regarding foreigners living in our Land, we are only careful that they remove any destructive behavior and accept the Noahide Laws. We will not be bothered by longings and affection for his nation and the land of his fathers, which is why he is called a “foreigner.” Yet he will be considered a resident in Eretz Yisrael as far as feeling closeness to him and awarding him full civil rights. He should not be told that if he wants to be a resident, he must remove the elements of a foreigner, as the pasuk says that while he is known as a foreigner and a resident, he will live with you. This idea regarding nations is also true regarding cities. The “out-of-towners” are brothers who are closely connected to us even as they remain distinct and connected to their hometown. This is the true and straight peace: “Our brothers, the residents of the place called Ploni, your arrival shall be in peace.”

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