Thursday, September 01, 2016

“Know why you are crossing the Jordan”

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

Joshua, the Israelites’ leader and commander-in-chief addresses the nation before their entry into the Land, and he says: “Know why you are crossing the Jordan!” It is for you to drive out the inhabitants of the Land, as it says, “Drive out the Land’s inhabitants before you” (Numbers 33:52). If you do so, well and good. Otherwise, the waters of the Jordan will come and wash you away [“you” represented by the word “otichem”]. What is meant by the rare form “otichem”? Both Me [oti] and you [et’chem]. (Sotah 34) 

Indeed, the people undertook to conquer the entire land, and a miracle was performed for them at the Jordan. As Rashi comments regarding the words, “You are crossing the Jordan to come and conquer the land which the L-rd your G-d is giving you. Occupy and settle it” (Deuteronomy 11:31): “Miracles at the Jordan will be your sign that you shall arrive and conquer the Land. Moreover, Joshua commanded them to bequeath to future generations the command to conquer the entire land, by having them erect a monument made from twelve stones of the Jordan, in accordance with the number of tribes of Israel. It was to signify for them that when their children later asked them what these stones were, they were to explain that their ancestors had crossed the Jordan with the goal of conquering the entire land” (see Sotah 35). 

Joshua was not privileged to conquer all the Land’s inhabitants. Hundreds of years passed until David conquered the Land, and only his son Solomon was privileged to enjoy peace, with each man sitting under his own grape vine and fig tree. Yet all those years from Joshua until David, we never forgot and never lost our faith that we would conquer the entire land as we were commanded to do by our holy Torah: “Clear out the land and live in it, since it is to you that I am giving the land to occupy” (Numbers 33:53). Indeed, during the days of the Judges, the words of verse 33:55 were fulfilled: “If you do not drive out the land's inhabitants before you, those who remain shall be barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, causing you troubles in the land that you settle.” Despite everything, we continued to cling to the goal until we were privileged to fulfill it during the days of King David. 

In our own times as well, when the State of Israel is fighting a cruel enemy who comes in the name of Islam to annihilate the State of Israel, we must learn from Joshua, who said, “Know why you are crossing the Jordan! You are crossing it in order to conquer the Land, and the purpose of our conquering the Land is to fulfill the vision of all the prophets and sages down through the generations. Israel are a light unto the nations, as G-d promised Abraham: “I will make you a great nation… You shall be for a blessing… All the families of the earth shall be blessed through you” (Genesis 12). 

Our enemies wish to extinguish the light of Israel – it will never be! The light of Israel is the light of G-d, coming to illuminate and benefit the entire world. Our soldiers, wherever they may be, and the residents of the north and south, who are being relentlessly attacked, must be aware that this war is between the sons of light and the sons of darkness. 

Let us unite and be strong, and through us will be fulfilled the words, “The L-rd will give strength to His people. The L-rd will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 9:11). 

Looking forward to complete salvation, 
Shabbat Shalom,
Chodesh Tov.

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