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Shabbat Parashat Acharei Mot 5774

Ein Ayah: Qualitative Physical Blessing

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Maaser Sheni 26)

Gemara: “… Bless Your nation, Israel, and the Land You gave us, as You promised our forefathers, a Land that is flowing with milk and honey” (Devarim 26:15) – so that it will give taste to the fruit.


Ein Ayah: The connection between a Land that is flowing with milk and honey and the promise to our forefathers is very appropriate for the following reason. A lowly nation does not need to broaden its mindset through physical blessing. In fact, overabundant blessing in the physical realm will be damaging for the nation, as it will cause it to doze off into the realm of laziness when there is nothing to force it to exert itself, or it can bring the nation to a path of negative behavior.

In contrast, it is fitting for a lofty nation to live a life in which there is a broadening of the state of mind. We need not suffice with bread alone but should receive all that Hashem bestows upon us – a life of pleasure whose purpose is to uplift the spirit of the individual and thereby the nation. Therefore, as a sign of the uplifted status that Bnei Yisrael will finally reach, Hashem promised that our Land would be blessed as being one that flows with milk and honey. Along with this, the forefathers were informed that their descendants would be people of a high level, for whom the spiritual blessing is more prominent than a life of physical serenity and indulgence.

It is true that due to the bad choices of various generations, the pasuk of “they will eat and be satiated and will be fattened and turn to other gods” (Devarim 31:20) came true. However, that is an illness that can be healed. The evil can be refined by the intensity of the exile and the crucible of troubles that have overcome us.

Still the nation that was created for greatness will preserve its basic nature, as a nation that is full of the glow of life. A nation that was created to possess wisdom and spread light and insight in the world cannot live a life of contraction without anything to broaden its mindset. Therefore, the idea of a Land that flows with milk and honey is a decree that sets the tone for other pleasures of life.This is appropriate for the great spirits of a nation of thinkers who always strive to reach higher and higher. Along these lines, the Rabbis taught that honey and other sweet things make the tongue accustomed to the study of Torah.

Therefore, the principle of a Land flowing with milk and honey, which Hashem promised to our forefathers, is not noting just a quantitative multitude of material riches, which is not especially appropriate for a specific nation. Rather, it refers to a qualitative advantage that will give a special goodness to the fruit. This is because a special taste in the fruit makes the spirit gentle and happy. This is a major concern for a nation whose greatest interest is its spiritual completeness – to know Hashem – which is the purpose of Hashem’s oath to the forefathers.

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