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Being a Jew and Living in Israel

By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim

As we begin reading Genesis this week, let us focus on the first comment of Rashi’s epic commentary:

“It was not necessary to begin the Torah except from ‘This month is to you,’ (Exod. 12:2) which is the first commandment that the Israelites were commanded, Now for what reason did He commence with ‘In the beginning?’ Because of [the verse] ‘The strength of His works He related to His people, to give them the inheritance of the nations’ (Ps. 111:6). For if the nations of the world should say to Israel, ‘You are robbers, for you conquered by force the lands of the seven nations [of Canaan],’ they will reply, ‘The entire earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He; He created it (this we learn from the story of the Creation) and gave it to whomever He deemed proper When He wished, He gave it to them, and when He wished, He took it away from them and gave it to us.’”

Rashi does not mean to say that, with this argument, we will convince the entire world of our essential right to live in the Land of Israel. Rashi’s point here is that we, the Jewish people, need to understand that Eretz Yisrael is God’s land, and He has made the Jewish People a custodian of the land. We are not robbers and have the right to live in the Land of Israel, the land for which we have been longing to return to since the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash (Temple in Jerusalem).

Decent human beings would agree that the actions taken by Hamas are barbaric and sheer evil. There cannot be any justification for such actions. I heard an interview with Tal Wilson who was attacked, along with her American friend Kristine Luken, by two Hamas terrorists in Israel in 2010. Tal was brutally stabbed with machetes numerous times and her friend was savagely dismembered. Miraculously, Tal survived. She noted that when the Israeli police questioned the terrorists about their motivation, the terrorists responded that they simply wanted to kill Jews. They made no mention of land or political motivations whatsoever. Tal explains that she then realized that the attack on her was no different from the pogroms, the 1929 massacre of Jews in Hebron, or the Holocaust; the motivation was to kill Jewish people.

Let us be proud of being Jewish, know that we have the right to live in the Land of Israel, and do good deeds to bring more peace and humanity to the world. May God help and support the IDF, the Israel Police Force, and all the security forces, and return every one of our men and women safely to their families!