By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
For You Have Found Favor in My Eyes, And I Shall Make Myself Known to You by [My] Name
‘May You grant us to eat from the Paschal lamb…’ Pesach is an opportune time to pray for the future redemption – just as we were redeemed at this time in Egypt. Also by connecting ourselves to the Land of Israel in various ways, we can take an active role in the cessation of the exile of our People and the heralding of our future redemption.
One of the interesting connections between the theme of eating (which takes such a dominant role on Pesach and our redemption rooted to the Land of Israel) is that this Land is called a “Land that eats its inhabitants.” Although this term is used in the Torah in the words of the spies in a negative context, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov interprets this term in a positive context. The grounds for this interpretation lie with the fact that every word of the Torah is true and holy. Therefore, there must be truth even in the negative terms of the Torah; albeit when interpreted homiletically. In Torah 129 (part I), Rabbi Nahman of Breslov interprets the term a “Land that eats its inhabitants” to mean that just as food becomes one with the one who eats it, so too the Holy Land makes its inhabitants one with the Land’s Holy Essence itself.
This teaching also explains why the Torah teaches us that when Israel ascends to the Temple on the three festivals, ‘no one will covet your Land’. Just as Israel becomes one with the Land when inhabiting within it, so too a greater union with the Holy Presence of this Land is achieved when ascending to this Land’s Temple of the Holy Presence. When this greater union is achieved, it will be obvious that Israel and the Land are one spiritual entity, as are a husband and wife, and there will be no supposition that they could be parted by the coveting of another nation. This message is especially potent on Pesach, when the entire People of Israel assembled (and will assemble) around the Temple to offer and eat the Paschal lamb. At this momentous occasion all Israel offers the Paschal lamb – each family or group by a special messenger – in the Temple over a span of a few hours on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan. In this way, the People are ‘eaten’ so-to-speak in the bounds of the Holy Presence of the Temple. Then, in the evening, all Israel are to be found in the vicinity of ‘sanctified Jerusalem’ eating this Paschal lamb – a continuation of the holiness of the Holy Presence. Here too, this holiness is ‘eaten’ and imbibed into our essence, making us one with the holiness of the Holy Presence.
One of the keys to this unity with the Holy Presence of our Holy Land is Hebron. This is Hebron, the City of Unity and Beacon of the Holy Land, which unites us with our roots and with our Holy Land, where the Holy Presence rests. Just as Pesach is a time of renewal with Holy Presence in the Temple, (as can be seen in the Tanah in the Pesach sacrifices of Joshua and Yoshiyahu), it is also a time to renew our connection with the Holy Presence of our Land through Hebron.
Rabbi Menahem Bavli was one of the pioneers in the renewal of Jewish presence in Hebron about 500 years ago even before Rabbi Malkiel Askenazi bought the Jewish Courtyard in Hebron. He wrote the book ‘Taamei Hamitzvot’ on the spiritual meaning of mitzvoth and the Shelah quotes him in a number of places.
Real Stories from the Holy Land
This is the time to tell your personal story at the seder night!
Sources: Sefer Hebron p. 123
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