By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
Be Fruitful and Multiply
Adam was commanded in the Garden of Eden to be fruitful and multiply, and so was Yakov in this parsha upon his return to the Land of Israel. Not only are Yakov and Adam paralleled in this respect, but also our Sages teach that the beauty of Yakov’s countenance was similar to that of Adam (Bava Metzia 84a). To explain these parallelisms we may contemplate the fact that while Adam was the forerunner of mankind, Yakov was the primary forerunner of the Jewish People, for all of his descendants were accepted into the Jewish People with no exception. Just as Adam and Yakov were forerunners of mankind or the People of God, and were therefore blessed/told to be fruitful and “multiply”, so too their similar beauty represents their “multiple”-faceted influence upon the generations after them. True beauty can be found in Torah sources as referring to an internal harmony that unites multiple facets together in an integral whole. For example, commentators note that Rambam’s interpretation of the Mishna in Avot, “choose a path that is beautiful for the doer and beautiful before people,” is the source of Rambam’s ruling that one should conduct himself by “the middle path,” which is the most “beautiful” since it harmonizes between various paths of extremes, and takes the best of each path. Therefore, we may say that the beauty of Adam and Yakov is indicative of them being the source of many souls, i.e their blessing of “fruitfulness”, each soul representing a various path, that are all harmonized in the essence of Adam and Yakov from whom each soul originated.
Hashem’s blessing to Yakov to be fruitful is juxtaposed to His blessing and promise to give Yakov and his descendants the Land of Israel. In fact, the blessing for multiple offspring and the promise to give these offspring the Land of Israel is constantly juxtaposed in Hashem’s blessings to our forefathers. What is the meaning of this? One explanation lies with understanding the following halacha: A couple who were barren of children for a period of more than ten years have grounds for divorce in order to remarry with someone with whom they can bear children. However, if this couple lived in the Diaspora for these ten years and then moved to the Land of Israel they must begin the count of ten years from the beginning, since “it is possible that the merit of the Land of Israel will allow them to have children.” This halacha is learned from Avraham Avinu who took Hagar as a wife only after ten years passed since his move with Sara to the Land of Israel, and Sara then still had not conceived of a child. This halacha demonstrates how the blessing for the fruitfulness of the People of Israel is integrally linked to the blessing of our People to settle and conquer the Land of Israel, the Land of Fruitfulness. Based on the analogy of the People of Israel representing a husband and the Land of Israel representing the People’s “wife,” as we have shown before, we also understand why the true fruitfulness of our People, both in physical and spiritual ways, can only exist with our People’s return to the Holy Land. Also, based on the connection between fruitfulness and true beauty as explained above, we also see how the unity between our People and the Land of Israel is also the promise of the beautiful harmonization of all the various paths of the world, leading to World Peace. This message is also a primary message of Hebron, the City of Unity (hibur), uniting our People with the Holy Land in beautiful harmony, City of the Couples, the promise of fruitfulness and peace.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #290
The first wedding to take place in Hebron after Hebron’s liberation in the Six-day-war was the Katzover wedding in the summer of 5728 (1968) in close proximity to Maarat Hamachpela. The Katzovers figured that they could invite hundreds of guests who would like to pray at Maarat Hamachpela and also buy products of the just-beginning Jewish settlement of Hebron, so that the profits would go to the development of the community. A donkey and wagon with refreshments were placed next to Maarat Hamchpela and people indeed bought refreshments. However, then came the governor’s cry: “who allowed you to put up a kiosk at Maarat Hamachpela?!!” To this they answered, “we only brought a donkey and wagon…” Then, the governor ordered that the three people responsible for the “kiosk” be expelled from Hebron. This event caused great public reaction and after an ordeal in the Knesset etc. Jewish commerc was allowed in Hebron.
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