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Shabbat Parashat Behar 5776

Parashat Hashavua: Foreigners and Citizens You Are With Me

Harav Shaul Yisraeli based on Siach Shaul, p. 351-2

In explaining the mitzva of yovel, the Torah says that the Land will not be sold for eternity and finishes up that this is related to the concept that we are “foreigners and citizens with Me” (Vayikra 25:23). The connection to “with Me” appears to be as follows: If you treat Me like one who fully belongs, then you fully belong; if you treat Me as an outsider, you too will be like outsiders.

The idea is that in the mitzvot of shemitta and, especially, yovel the element of recognizing heavenly dominion is particularly prominent. It is that which makes us deserving inhabitants of the Land. This is because in order for us to have dominion over the Land from a human perspective, we must be fully cognizant of the fact that it is Hashem and no other who has the ultimate ownership of the Land. “For the earth and everything that is in it is Hashem’s” (Tehillim 24:1). This is the reason that the Torah starts with the story of Genesis and not with “Hachodesh hazeh,” the first mitzva that Bnei Yisrael were commanded nationally, which would be appropriate, since the stories of nations begin with their independence.

Hashem chose for us a land that is the nerve center of the world. This is described in the pasuk, “The land which Hashem is interested in. Constantly Hashem’s eyes are in it, from the beginning of the year until its end” (Devarim 11:12). Now we can understand the connection between shemitta and Sinai, where, the Torah stresses, that mitzva was given. “The strength of His actions He told to His nation, to give to them the land that is the lot of the nations” (Tehillim 111:6). This is the secret that Hashem created the world with a statement made by “His mouth.” The whole world exists due to the spiritual element. Therefore, the connection to the Land comes specifically by stressing the fact we are connected to it to the extent to which Hashem grants it to us (“we are foreigners and citizens”).

This last pasuk is surprising, in that it refers to the Land as “that which is the lot of nations.” Is Eretz Yisrael the lot of the nations? Isn’t it our lot? There is a deep meaning here. The vision for Bnei Yisrael is the vision of the End of Days, when “all those who inhabit the world will recognize and know Hashem.” Such an era can be ushered in only when the Kingdom of Israel will be the Kingdom of the Heaven.  
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