And I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies that dwell there shall be astonished. And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will draw out the sword after you; and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste. (From this week’s Torah portion, Bechukotai, Leviticus 26:32-33)
After the Torah chapter promising blessing if we keep G-d’s laws, another, longer chapter promises horrific curses if we do not conduct ourselves according to G-d’s directives. But there is one curse that conceals a blessing: “And I will bring the land into desolation:” Even when you are exiled from the Land of Israel, the Land will remain loyal to you and will not allow any foreign nation to flourish in it.
Just as promised, until the Jewish People returned to the Land of Israel a century and a half ago, no other nation successfully became established in the Land of Israel. Travelers to the Land over the centuries describe desolation and abandonment – until the lost children of the Holy Land awakened.
Politically, however, the wondrous fulfillment of “And I will bring the land into desolation” continues to this very day. There is no pebble in the entire world that is not claimed by a nation. Indian and Pakistani soldiers freeze to death to preserve the sovereignty of their respective countries on the frozen peaks of uninhabitable mountains. But here, in the fruitful heart of the Land of Israel, we have the “territories”. The Arabs covet them and some of the Jews despise them, never missing an opportunity to be rid of them, making every effort to ensure that they will be transferred to foreign sovereignty. The entire world has invested a fortune of money and endless energy for years to establish a “Palestinian” state in these “territories” – but it simply doesn’t happen.
Never has a group of people received so much international aid to establish a state for itself. But yet, nothing happens. Why not?
The answer to this riddle is in the “curses” in our Torah portion.
We have already experienced all the curses; we have already witnessed their reality. With G-d’s help, we will continue to see the fulfillment of our destiny through the prism of the blessings and we will actualize our sovereignty over all parts of the Land of Israel. Shabbat Shalom