Balak 2021 Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
From the Mountains of our Land
Our title quote alludes, according to our Sages, to our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, who were the forerunners in reviving the power of the Holy Presence (Pesikta, 1). Thus, according to our Sages, the title quote should be interpreted as follows: “For from the days of the Patriarchs (“heights of cliffs”) I shall see them, and from the days of the Matriarchs (“hills”) I shall gaze upon them, surely they are a People that will dwell (“and “revive” the Holy Presence) alone, and will not be considered (as having the same status) as other nations.” These words were not uttered by the lovers of Israel, and not even by the greatest of Prophets, Moshe, but rather from the mouth of one of Israel’s greatest foes, Bilaam. According to the Midrash, Bilaam advised Pharaoh to kill all Jewish males, which highlights that the praises of Israel in this parsha cannot be perceived as stemming from anything close to nationalistic pride, but rather solely from the Divine Truth.
If the words of Bilaam indeed have prophetic significance, what is the significance of Israel being “alone” in the Land, and not being “reckoned among the nations”? Does this mean that other nations may not live in the Land of Israel? That is difficult, as there is definitely a halachic allowance for gentiles dwelling in the Land of Israel in the form of “residential converts” (ger toshav, as opposed to a ger tzadek, a Jewish convert), who accept upon themselves a few basic obligations of citizenship but remain gentiles.
Nevertheless, the commandment “lo techanem” (Devarim 7:2) does give a certain validity to the simple meaning of the title quote, not only as a prophecy of the future but also as a position to be practiced today, to a certain extent. The Sages interpret lo techanem to mean not to give other nations “anchorage” (chanaya) in the Land” (Avoda Zara 20a). This is the source for the Shulchan Aruch’s (and Rambam’s) ruling that “one is not to sell to them (gentiles) houses or fields in the Land of Israel” (Yoreh Deah 151:8).
What is the reason for these guidelines regarding gentile “residential converts” and the prohibition of selling the Land to gentiles? The prophet Yeshayahu (62:5) compares our People to a husband and the Holy Land to a wife. Just as an intimate union between husband and wife is only allowed in the absence of others in their midst, so too the full connection of our People to the Land is only achieved by the full, undivided and committed union between our People and the Land. Thus, just as the Holy Presence rests between husband and wife, so too the Holy Presence rests between the People and the Holy Land. However, this union is primarily established by the commited settlement of the Land in the form of ownership. Therefore, allowing other nations to be present in the Land without ownership is not necessarily considered a disruption of this intimate union. Hebron, by its very name, encorporates this union. By connecting to Hebron, we unite with the Land, we unite our People through the Land and our common roots. We unite with the “heights of cliffs,” our holy Patriarchs who “revived” the Holy Presence in the Land, and we become one with the One and only unique Holy One. “Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad.”
Miracle Real Stories from the Holy Land: From the Six-Day War:
The Egyptian tanks occupied positions seven kilometers long in a very sandy area. But few expected the Israeli tanks to flank them in a more sandy area. The art of driving in tanks was required here so as not to drown in the sands. Theirs had already been hit by the flanking Israeli tanks. The Israelis moved to another areal, and here too the Egyptians rejoiced at a frontal attack. However, the flanking Israeli tanks did not suffer any casualties. Source: Exposed in the Tower, pp. 270-269