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Shabbat Parashat Emor| 5768

The Torah and the Land part I

Moreshet Shaul

A midrash says: “Had Moshe entered Eretz Yisrael (=EY), the Beit Hamikdash would not have been destroyed and no nation would have had dominion over Israel.” The Parashat Derachim inquired about the connection between Moshe and the destruction. Since the three cardinal sins caused the destruction, how would Moshe’s entry into the Land have atoned for these crimes? Let us start by viewing the behavior of Yehoshua, Moshe’s successor, who conquered EY, which will indicate what went wrong in addition to what went right.

The conquest of Yericho, the first in EY, was unique in two ways: 1) It was accomplished in a super-natural manner; 2) There was a ban on the spoils and a prohibition on building the city. Why were these steps necessary?

The entry into EY after 40 years in the desert marked a sharp change in lifestyle, going from constant miracles to a lifestyle that appeared natural. The main means of sustenance in the desert was mann. The mann experience included daily revelation of Divine Presence in several aspects: The daily falling of the mann enabled a great nation to survive in desert conditions. The manner in which everyone collected a fixed amount that he needed to consume was miraculous as was the double portion that fell on Friday and the lack of mann on Shabbat. All of these showed clearly the Hand of G-d watched over them on an individual basis according to the needs of each and that He was the Creator who finished His work on the seventh day.

Then they entered an inhabited land and the mann stopped. The need to tend to daily subsistence for whole families arose. The first priority was to remove the inhabitants from the Land and to settle it. Natural living had begun, like the surrounding nations, struggling to secure the Land and to extract bread from the earth with hard work and sweat. However, the Divine Will was not for the House of Israel to be like all the nations. Rather, within the, ostensibly natural, conditions of life one must recognize that Hashem is the cause behind all causes. On one hand, one must remember it is Hashem who gives him the strength to attainments. All is in Divine Hands, whether success or failure. On the other hand, everything is an outcome of the extent of fear of Heaven and acceptance of Divine Dominion in all of a person’s actions and behavior.

That is why the conquest of Yericho was done miraculously. They circled the city for seven days with the Ark containing the Tablets. On the seventh day the wall tumbled before blowing shofars, without weapons or military tactics. This was to impress deep in the nation’s heart the belief that even in EY the Divine Hand would continue to lead the nation, that the laws of nature are subservient to the Divine Will, which in turn depends on the degree of one’s dedication to his Maker. “If you listen…” then “you will gather your grain.” “If you refuse and rebel,” then “there will not be rain and the land will not give its produce.” Nature is also the making of Hashem, and therefore only Torah observance promises a peace and blessing in the Land.

In order to see if nation absorbed the lesson of Yericho and to engrain the practical outlook that all comes from Above, Yehoshua declared a ban on Yericho. Heaven forbid that the plentiful spoils would impact on those who experienced 40 years of rationing in the desert, wearing the same clothes as when they left Egypt and having the same menu every day. Now they had access to beautiful clothes, foods, and jewelry, but so that they not get carried away by them, Yehoshua made them off limits. This was a guide to future behavior: overcome the world’s enticements and pleasantries and enjoy a life of straightness and justice, hard work, and charity. Stand up to the challenges of Shabbat and the Shemitta year even when it seems to cause losses and sanctify the first fruit of one’s toil to Hashem with happiness.

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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of

R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld


 Hemdat Yamim is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of

Max and Mary Sutker

 and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.

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