By Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Discover the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And He [Avraham] Settled in Elonei Mamreh in Hebron and Built an Altar There To Hashem
Our Sages teach that the actions of our Fathers act as significant “signs” to their offspring. Rabbi Mordechai Atia zt”l (in his treatise “Lech Lecha”) uses this idea to explain a teaching in Tana Dvei Eliyahu (manuscript, ch. 25) which says that in merit of Avraham’s immediate compliance with Hashem’s command to ascend to the Land of Israel, also the redemption towards his offspring was (apparently in the Exodus)/will be hastened, measure for measure. Rabbi Atia learns from this that also by our hastened ascent to the Holy Land today we will also merit to a hastening of our future redemption. In fact, Rabbi Atia zt”l, one of the great Kabbalists about one/two generations ago wrote numbers of treatises about this topic, discussing the importance of the Land of Israel and the ascent/settlement of the Jewish People within it.
Another action of Avraham that “foretold”the future of his descendants can be seen in the incident where Avraham left with great fortune from Egypt, and so too his descendants left Egpyt with great fortune. It is also clear that this “great fortune” was instrumental in the separation between Avraham and Lot, for the verse says that as a result of the great livestock acquired by Avraham and Lot there was a quarrel between them. Lot, who was blinded by material wealth chose to live in Sodom, then a wealthy province “like the land of Egypt,” and did not merit to join Avraham in the first Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel, Hebron. As the verse says, it was only “after Lot separated from Avraham” that Avraham merited to the first blessing and promise from Hashem that He will give the Holy Land to him and his descendants and the second blessing to him that he will merit to a great nation. Only then does Avraham merit to settle in Hebron, the city that unites, Hebron=hibur (unity), Israel with the Holy Land.
Here too there seems to be a parallel between the actions of Avraham and his descendants during the period of Ezra and Nehemia when it was primarily the poorer families of Israel, those that were not “blinded” by wealth, that were “expedient” to return to the Land of Israel from the Babylonian exile, while much of the wealthier families chose to stay in Babylon (see Hagai chapter 1, Nehemia 5, 1-4). These “poorer families” achieved great “spiritual wealth”, as we can see that not only is each family recorded in the Holy Scriptures in the book of Ezra but even their donkeys, camels, horses, etc. are also recorded there (see Ezra 2, 65-7). These families also took an important role in the building of the second Beit Hamikdash after their ascent to the Land.
The fact that Avraham chose to settle specifically in Hebron after Lot’s departure is also significant in this regard, as an ömen” for the future generations. Hebron is considered by our Sages to be the “rubble of the Land of Israel” (Sota 34b) on a material level. The fact that Avraham settles here, after Lot’s materialistic move to Sodom seems to show that an important part in settling this Land is preferably to put the materialistic motives aside and to focus on the spiritual grandeur of settling the Land of the Holy Presence. Nevertheless, once this is done much blessing, both material and spiritual are granted to those who settle in this Land of Blessing, the Land of “Milk and Honey,” as can be seen in many verses in Tanach and in the teachings of our Sages (see Ketubot 111 and more).
“Knowing that trees grow more easily where trees have flourished before,”
explained Professor Zohary of Hebrew University, “we rely on the Good Book.” “The first
tree Abraham put in the soil of Beersheba was a tamarisk,” said Israel’s outstanding
authority on reforestation, Dr. Joseph Weitz. “Following his lead, we put out two million in
the same area. Abraham was right. The tamarisk is one of the few trees we have found that
thrives in the south where yearly rainfall is less than six inches.” The Bible made Israel the
agricultural giant it is today exporting its products worldwide. It took another miracle to
make this possible. In Bible times there were two copious rainy seasons in Palestine—the
“early and the latter rain.” But for the past many centuries the “early rain” has been minimal
while the “latter rain” and dew have disappeared completely. Since 1878, [and the return of
Jews to this Land], the “latter rain” is falling again. The precipitation of both has spiraled
over the decades just as predicted in Joel 2:23,24.Source: