Friday, December 27, 2013

The Promise of the Land

By Rabbi Mordechai Rabinovitz

It is generally assumed that the inalienable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is based on the promise by Hashem to our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Since the Talmud (Berachos 7a) states that divine promises for good things are not rescinded by Hashem even if the recipient is no longer deserving, this promise would seem irrevocable.
However, Rambam (Introduction to Mishnah Commentary) qualifies that rule and asserts that a divine promise for the good is not irreversible if it was communicated to a prophet for the prophecy as a personal message from G-d, without a command to convey it to others.
When a promise is communicated to a prophet for his ears alone, then even a good promise can be rescinded. But in that case, a serious problem arises. Because elsewhere, Rambam (Guide 2:39) states that the very first prophet in history to receive a command to communicate his prophecy to others was Moses. Now, if the promise to the forefathers is what gives us a right to the Holy Land, and if the forefathers received that promise in a personal prophecy, not for communication to others, how can we (according to Rambam) be certain that the promise will be fulfilled?
The answer would seem to be given in this week’s reading (Shemos 6:6-9): Hashem spoke to Moshe and said to him: “Say to the people of Israel, I will take you out… and I will bring you to the land that I promised to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a heritage, I am Hashem”.
As can clearly be seen, Hashem here commands Moshe to communicate the promise to the people of Israel. Accordingly, this promise cannot be rescinded even if we are not always so deserving.
Today, we are witnessing the fulfillment of that promise by Hashem, and are certain that likewise all other promises of good to our people will be fulfilled, speedily in our days!

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