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1675: Naso 9 Sivan 5777 03/06/2017

“The gold of that land was good” [Bereishit 2:12].

“Three Days”

“Three days ago” we received the Torah at Mount Sinai, after “three days of limited access,” in the wake of the nation’s request to Pharaoh,” to let them go “for three days.” After leaving the Red Sea, the people traveled for “three days” until they received “decrees and laws” at Marah (Bereishit 16:25), which was the promo for the momentous events at Sinai. According to G-d’s original plan, the people would have continued their journey “three days” at a time, arriving in Eretz Yisrael “three days” away from Sinai. That would have been the date of this Shabbat, Nasso – the ninth of Sivan. As is written, “And they journeyed from the Mountain of G-d for a path of three days, and the Ark of the Covenant journeyed before them for three days to search for a resting place.” [Bamidbar 10:33].

The last verse above (where the phrase “three days” appears twice), serves as a strong hint that the distance from Mount Sinai to Eretz Yisrael is a journey of three days, on the way to reach the final place of rest. (Note that the phrase “three days” is a code symbolic of the entire process of redemption, from when Moshe and Aharon stood before Pharaoh and on through the time of the Jordan River crossing on the Yericho Plains. But we will not elaborate on this here.) Thus, today, Shabbat Nasso, “three days” after the events at Mount Sinai (which we experienced on the date of this past Wednesday), is the day with the greatest potential for Eretz Yisrael. However, because of the sin of the scouts, the entry into the Land was postponed for forty years.

There can be no Eretz Yisrael without Torah

We can see from all of this that according to the Divine plan the receiving of the Torah must precede the entry into Eretz Yisrael. In other words, the only way to “cross over the Jordan” in terms of redemption and “acquiring a heritage” is to be accompanied by the Ark of the Divine Covenant, in which the Torah and the Tablets of Testimony have been placed. The implication is clear: for all generations, there is no possibility and there will be no merit available to take possession of Eretz Yisrael without first gaining possession of the Torah – and this must be closely attached to Israeli sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael!

After the Torah was given, the Shechina left the mountain, and when the shofar blast sounded at the end the people were allowed to climb up together with their cattle. We see an exalted and vital lesson to be learned from this series of events: No place outside of Eretz Yisrael maintains its sanctity – not Mount Sinai, and evidently not Oman, or the Montefiore Cemetery in New York. And the graves of Mordechai and Esther in Sushan the Capital are not holy, nor is the gravesite of Rabbi Pappo in Bulgaria, and not even Demenhor in Egypt (the burial site of Abir Yaacof Abuchatzeira). Mount Sinai, the site of the supreme example of Divine revelation, lost its holy character at the end of the ceremony. After all, these places are outside of Eretz Yisrael...

The Land of the Covenant or the United States?

(Note the pun in the above title: The Land of the Covenant is “ Eretz Haberit” in Hebrew. The United States is “Artzot Haberit” in Hebrew.)

With the destruction of the centers of Torah learning in Europe during the Holocaust, the famous Yeshivat Mir, a bastion of Torah study in eastern Europe, migrated from Lita to Japan and China. In the midst of the Holocaust and destruction of the Torah centers, the heads of the exiled yeshiva sat in the Beit Midrash and discussed the existential question: “What will happen with the Torah?” Rabbi Finkel from Mir declared in the wake of the Rabbi of Ponevitch: “The remainder will find its place on Mount Zion!” And indeed two centers were established in the style of the Lita yeshivot: one in Jerusalem and the other in Bnei Berak. Both of these were a distance of a mere “three days” from Mount Sinai. As opposed to this, Rabbi Aharon Kutner responded to the call, and he said: “We will have more exalted success and we will be able to erect a more magnificent structure in the land of freedom – in the United States. There we will be left alone with our Torah labor and with our efforts to glorify it,” without being disturbed. He established the bustling Lakewood Yeshiva, three thousand miles from Mount Sinai. And once again there were two Torah centers: the Torah of Eretz Yisrael and the Torah of Babylon.

Rav Kook established the yeshivot of Eretz Yisrael Based on the model of Lita. This is the “Central Yeshiva of the World” (“Yeshivat Mercaz Harav”). In its wake many Zionist and Hesder yeshivot have been established. Many of these yeshivot have been established in the area of Yehuda and the Shomron, combining Torah study with settlement of the land. Following a similar pattern, many Chareidi yeshivot have also been established in cities on the periphery, within the wide boundaries of our land.

We have been commanded, “You shall take possession of the land and dwell in it” [Bamidbar 33:53]. “Rabbi Yishmael expounded on this: How do you take possession? By “ yeshiva” – dwelling.” [Kiddushin 26a]. Some take this to mean “settlements.” Others interpret it to mean “yeshivot” – study halls filled with the sound of study. This corresponds to a Bnei Akiva slogan: “We will establish yeshivot everywhere, in the cities and in the villages.”

“Take possession through yeshiva” – with the winning combination of the Torah and Sinai together with Eretz Yisrael.

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