Parshat Chayei Sara By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס”ד
לשכנו תדרשו Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
“Albania in the Middle East?!”
Hermann Cohen, the famous German-Jewish philosopher, when asked by Martin Buber to join the Zionist movement, answered: “What? After two thousand years of suffering and developing a special mission, the Jews will create a small Albania in the Middle East?! Shall we exchange the great mission of the Jewish People to be an ethical and spiritual light unto the nations [in the Diaspora], with flags and marches?” H. Cohen understood that the primary mission of Israel as a “light unto the nations” will be realized specifically by the dispersions of Israel among the nations in the Diaspora. Was he right?
“A prince of God you are among us” is said by the Hittites to Avraham. Not for naught is this phrase mentioned in the midst of the purchase of Maarat Hamachpela, the first Jewish purchase of land in the Land of Israel. Purchase of land represents sovereignty, as is commonly expressed by the term land-“lord”. This concept also profoundly explains why this purchase of land is described at such length in context of the burial of Sarah whose name means “to rule.”
The connection between Israel’s sovereignty in this Land and the recognition of “a prince of God” can be easily explained when we consider the fact that when a benevolent and Godly individual takes power and sovereignty he naturally acts as a “princely” and God-inspired leader – “a prince of God” – leading all those under his influence towards lofty thought and behavior. Similarly, when Israel, the People of God, achieve sovereignty in the Holy Land, then ultimately they will lead the whole world towards positive conduct, to be “a light unto the nations” (Isaiah 49, 6).
From the prophets we learn that this Godly leadership is not only linked to the People of Israel but also to the Holy Land, Jerusalem and the Temple when Israel are settled in their midst. So says Isaiah (60, 3) about Zion when Israel return to it when redeemed: “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Also in regard to the Temple it says, “in the end of days the mountain of Hashem’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it” (Isaiah 2, 2). It also says “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (ibid, 56, 7).
The prophet Isaiah (62, 2) also describes the relationship between Israel and the Holy Land to the relationship between husband and wife. The Torah teaches that when husband and wife are meritorious the Holy Presence rests between them. With the same token we may say that when Israel are sovereign in the Holy Land in a proper way, i.e truly “one with the Holy Land” – the secret of the “Coupled Cave”-Maarat Hamachpela of Hebron which means “unity” (hibur), then the Holy Presence is magnified in their midst, thus bringing the promise and goal of beaconing “light upon the nations” to its fullest realization and fulfillment.
Real Stories from the Holy Land
“Does God fight for Israel? When Israel triumphs over multiple Arab armies attacking on multiple fronts, it certainly seems that God fights for Israel.
Such was the case in 1967 when Israel won a humanly improbable victory in the miraculous time frame of less than a week. That wasn’t the first time Israel faced insurmountable odds. The day after declaring independence on May 14, 1948, Israel was attacked by five Arab countries. Vastly outnumbered by a well-equipped, well-trained Arab military, Israel’s small militia somehow prevailed. God fights for Israel.
In 1967, Israel knew its Arab neighbors were planning a war against it. Their goal was the same as in 1948: to annihilate the Jewish state. As the enemies amassed along Israel’s borders, Israel was again outnumbered… But in the end, Israel not only defended itself, but also gained control of the Sinai to the south, Golan Heights to the north, and much of biblical Samaria and Judea… For the first time in more than 2,500 years, Jerusalem was again under the sovereign control of a Jewish nation. God even gave back to Israel the Old City, where the Temple once stood… How could such a small nation survive the onslaught of so many Arab armies that were better equipped, better trained, and far more numerous than the army of Israel? There is only one reasonable explanation. As in the days of Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and Hezekiah, God is still fighting for Israel.” Jim Showers, executive director of The Friends of Israel