A Rabbi’s View
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Eretz Yisrael is being cut into pieces, and sections of it are being given over to foreigners. Our hearts are torn apart, and the pain spreads throughout the entire body. The soul of the nation thrashes about in its torture, cries out in its pain, “Woe, what has befallen us.”
Yet we, people of faith, lovers of the Land, declare in the most public way, that we object with our entire being to any yielding whatsoever of Eretz Yisrael. For this is the Land of G-d, that which He gave to His People, the People of Israel-and there is no force in the world that can ever change this fundamental truth.
Every attempt to do so has no value, no validity. Any agreement stipulating Jewish “concessions” over the Land is null and void, and is of less value than the dust of the earth. There is no legitimacy to an act that is against the Torah’s ideals, and “if done, it is of no account,” in the words of the Sages.
We view these painful sufferings as part of our Redemptive process. It is regarding these troubles that the verse states, “It is a time of tribulation for Jacob, from which he will be delivered”-from the trouble itself will come the salvation. We are imbued with faith in the G-d of Israel, Who promised Abraham, “To your descendants I have given this Land, from the Egyptian river up to the great river, the Perat river." We have eternal trust in the G-d of Israel, Who promised Jacob,”The Land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants.” The Word of the G-d of Israel will stand forever.
Together with the sorrow we feel over the tearing asunder of Eretz Yisrael, we also feel joy in our hearts on the continuing process of the Ingathering of the Exiles, over the building up of the Land of Israel and Jerusalem. The people continue to stream back to their Land, and the Land returns to its children. The Torah returns to Eretz Yisrael, and the people return to their origins, their foundations. The People that was “scattered and separated among the nations,” is now becoming re-united at home, in Eretz Yisrael. True, this joining of the various parts of the nation is somewhat painful at times, as in a life-saving operation, but this pain is an integral part of the regrouping the “dry bones” into one body.
Yes, there is sadness and pain, yet we can still say unequivocally, “How fortunate we are to have merited living in this generation of the Redemption. How fortunate we are to have merited that which many great leaders of Israel throughout many generations did not merit. We have been granted our return to Eretz Yisrael,the end of foreign rule over the Land and the Nation therein.” With all the suffering that we are experiencing at the hand of both internal and external elements, we are in a more favorable situation than we have known since we were exiled from our Land over 1900 years ago.
We are called upon to have an “open heart,” one that can accommodate strongly contradictory emotions at one and the same time: To feel the pain of the Land that is being cut apart, on the one hand, and to rejoice in its settlement and building, on the other hand; to mourn the spiritual breakdown and split in the nation, and at the same time to rejoice in the Ingathering of the Exiles and the strengthening of Torah and people of faith.
It is hard for our hearts to embrace the full overflow of these contradictory sensations. But this is the reality of our times – “a generation that is both totally liable and totally sin-free” [in the words of Rabbi A. I. Kook, of saintly blessed memory, referring to the words of the Sages that the Redemption would come in a generation that is either totally liable or sin-free]. It is exactly our ability to thank G-d for all the great goodness that he bestows upon us, that gives us an opening to beseech Him and ask that He have mercy upon us and His Holy Land, and give us the strength to preserve the Land in our hands, and return to us those parts of the Land that are not in our hands. With the help of G-d,” from [the troubles] we will be delivered” and speedily merit our total Redemption.
Rabbi Melamed is Rabbi of Beit El [Bethel], Dean of Beit El Yeshiva Center Institutions, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Arutz Sheva [radio station at Beit El].