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End of Chag Derasha

10/10/2023 05:57:55 PM

Oct10

We are going to start the Torah again this week.  The commentaries of the Ramban and Rashi disagree on many points.  It’s not a surprise that this pattern begins with even the very first verse of the Torah.  But they do agree at times and even with the first verse their conclusion about why the Torah has to begin with the Creation rather than the Mitzvot is the same: To announce that Hashem created the world and controls it, and that He decides to whom He gives Eretz Kanaan.  

It is nothing less than astounding to think of these medieval commentators, following in the footsteps of ancient Midrashim, locating this first theme -- so relevant to us -- in the first words of the Torah.  When they wrote this, it had no immediate political import whatsoever; they were just conveying the thrust of the Midrash.  But we need to know it, and to know it well.  Both commentators are aware that there will be those who call us Listim, bandits who have stolen the land.  Comes the verse to remind us to whom the land truly belongs and to whom He awarded it.  

Rashi also reminds us at the same time that this land was awarded based on merit, and it is held through the same.  We often chafe at the idea that we have to qualify to be in Israel.  No one asks the British or the Germans if they deserve their land.  But Rashi raises the point.  I don’t think anyone has to worry about anyone superseding our claim.  But that does not absolve us of the need to pursue the level of “Yashrut,” of worthiness, that was characteristic of those to whom the land was originally granted.  

Tue, June 25 2024 19 Sivan 5784