Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Table Talk - Ki Tavo 5767

When the Torah introduces the commandment of the recitation of the Bikkurim (first fruits), it seems to employ some repetitive language. The parshah begins, וְהָיָה, כִּי-תָבוֹא אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ, נֹתֵן לְךָ נַחֲלָה; וִירִשְׁתָּהּ, וְיָשַׁבְתָּ בָּהּ – “And it shall be, when you come into the land which Hashem your God gives you for an inheritance, and you possess it, and dwell in it.” Rabbi Simcha Raz wonders about the double language of this first verse: If God gives it to us as an inheritance, then why of course it belongs to us. Why then must the Torah add that we must also “possess it, and dwell in it?”

Rabbi Raz suggests that we must acquire the Land of Israel in two ways. First and foremost, the Land of Israel belongs to us because God gave it to us; it is our eternal homeland. But, at the same time, the land becomes our only through our sweat and hard work. In Rabbi Raz’s words, “A man does not merit inheritance and dwelling in the Land unless he worked and acted and sacrificed for its settlement. It is not enough that God gave it to us. Rather, we must also ‘possess it and dwell in it.’”