G-ds Gift to The Jewish People
Updated: Feb 17
The Torah was given to the Jewish People. It is a guidebook for the Jews, teaching them how to live a pleasurable and spiritual life. Rashi, the most classic commentator on the Torah, asks a question in the first verse of Bereishis: why does the Torah start from the story of creation? Fulfilling the commandments is how a Jew achieves his/her purpose; therefore, the Torah should have seemingly started with the first commandment given to the Jews as a nation. Instead, it starts with the beginning of time. Rashi’s answer is that Hashem began the Torah this way so that the other nations couldn’t claim that the Jews stole the land of Israel. G-d, who created the entire world, gave the land to the Jewish People. She belongs to them and no one else. However, even this being so, do the other nations really care? Sadly, as we see today, the answer is no.
So why did G-d begin the Torah this way? Because the message was not for the other nations. It was for us, the Jewish People. "כח מעשיו הגיד לעמו לתת להם נחלת גוים" - “He revealed to His people His powerful works, in giving them the heritage of nations” (Tehillim 111:6). A teacher of mine, Rabbi Goldreich, explained the following: The Jewish People need to know how special Eretz Yisrael is. Hashem gave us a gift, a holy piece of land, to settle in. All of the other lands have emissaries watching over them, while Israel has the One who sustains the whole world Himself protecting her people! There is an inherent holiness in the land, and therefore, closeness to G-d is more prevalent there.
Hashem wanted to show us that He loves us more than any other nation, and so He gave us the special gift of Eretz Yisrael. When we understand the significance of this gift--that Eretz Yisrael is a way to bring ourselves closer to G-d, to a more pleasurable and spiritual life--then we can appreciate her more and utilize the gift. It is ours to live in, to cultivate, to fight for and to connect with.
May we merit seeing the true beauty of what Eretz Yisrael has to offer and the ultimate redemption where all the Jewish People will take advantage of this wonderful gift.