by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir
In this week’s parashah G-d promises Israel that they will conquer the Land, but that the process of conquest will be gradual:
“I will not drive them out in a single year, however, lest the land become depopulated, and the wild animals become too many for you to contend with. I will drive the inhabitants out little by little, giving you a chance to increase and fully occupy the land. I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Philistine Sea, from the desert to the river. I will give the land's inhabitants into your hand, and you will drive them before you” (Exodus 23:29-31).
Indeed, Joshua bin Nun conquered the Land but not all of it. He left foreign peoples in it, who caused the Jewish People countless problems during the period of the Judges. This went on until the time of King David, who conquered the entire land from the foreigners living in it. Only in the time of his son Solomon were we privileged to rest from our wars, each person sitting under his grave arbor or fig tree.
Today, our own generation is similar and parallel to that of Joshua bin Nun who came up out of the desert to conquer the Land. Our generation as well emerged out of the desert of nations after 2,000 years of exile, to conquer and settle Eretz Yisrael. And just as in Joshua’s generation they did not drive out all the residents of the Land, such that “I will drive out the inhabitants little by little” was fulfilled, so too in our own generation a foreign people still remains in the land of our life’s blood. And just as in the days of the judges, the foreign nations made great trouble for Israel, today as well the Arabs are causing us great problems, threatening the State of Israel’s existence. And just as in the days of the Judges leaders arose who fought Israel’s wars and infused the people with a spirit of valor, such as Gideon, Yiftach, Shimshon and others, in our own day as well we need leaders who can strengthen the nation’s spirit and fight with might and fortitude against our enemies with their evil designs against us. And just as G-d makes our conquering the Land conditional on our first increasing in number, so, too, in our own day, the call of the hour is to increase and multiply, from within and from without. From within, we must have natural population growth. It is well known that families that preserve Jewish tradition often have large families. Thank G-d, we have been privileged to see more and more people returning to their roots and to tradition. The day is not far off when the entire Jewish People will return to their roots, and the result will be great internal natural growth. We must increase from without as well, by way of much aliyah. There are still millions of Jews in the exile, and the State of Israel must invest enormous effort and large sums of money to encourage aliyah, both in educating towards aliyah and in absorbing new immigrants. By way of this internal growth and a large aliyah we will fill our country with Jews. By such means we will be privileged to be the living fulfillment of the divine promise: “I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Philistine Sea, from the desert to the river.”
Looking forward to complete salvation,