Bonding with the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
ויסע ישראל וכל אשר לו
“May it be Your will HaShem our God and God of our Fathers… that You sustain us with good sustenance, in allowance, in pleasure, and in comfort for Your service…” (Prayer for Sustenance added to ‘Shma Koleinu’ of Amida)
The purpose of good sustenance, wealth, and the like is for ‘Your service’, the service of God, as Rambam teaches us at the end of his Mishneh Torah, that ‘Sages aspired for the days of Mashiah (when the prestige and wealth of Israel will be greatly raised), not in order to rule over the world… and not in order to eat, drink, and be happy, but rather in order to be free for the Torah and its wisdom… so that they attain the World to Come.”
Thus, as we saw last week, since the ‘service of God’ in the Land of Israel is especially dear before HaShem, there are special laws that are concerned about the sustenance of Israel in the Land of Israel. Another law that illustrates this principle is the prohibition on taking basic staple products of livelihood (flour, etc.) from the Land of Israel to the Diaspora, in order that these staple products be plentiful and inexpensive for the Jewish populace in the Land. Although this is the general rule, there is some controversy among the poskim in regard to the export of small quantities and also in cases of special economic situations that may be exceptions to the general rule.
In any case, the rationale in this rule can be seen in this week’s parsha in which Yaakov takes ‘all he has’ and travels to Egypt, albeit with explicit permission from HaShem. It seems clear that such a motion of moving without leaving anything behind, sustenance or otherwise, was a definitive step in the advent of the Exile of Egypt, and therefore it is this motion that halacha wishes to prevent for the generations thereafter who are not pre-destined for exile. Nevertheless, it should be noted that even in the pre-destined exile to Egypt our Sages in the Haggadah teach us that Yaakov’s intention was not to settle in Egypt, but rather to live there as a temporary dweller. In addition, it is clear from the Midrash that Yaakov cared to take with him the written contract of purchase on Maaras HaMachpela, a matter that again highlights the level of readiness to return to the Land even in pre-destined Exile.
If such was the message of Maaras HaMachpela-Hebron to our father Yaakov even in pre-destined exile, how much more potent is this message of Hebron to our generation, coming ever-closer to redemption, to hold tight to our age-old ‘contract’ with our Holy Land that runs so powerfully through Hebron.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #100:
“I own an apricot business. One year my fields were entirely unproductive. I went to a tzadik to receive some advice regarding this issue. He advised me to continue watering the trees as if nothing happened. The apricot season arrived, and still nothing grew. The tzadik told me to continue watering, and so we did even though the trees seemed more like lifeless stumps. Somewhat later the trees bloomed and grew apricots. I sold the apricots out of season to hotels and earned about three times more than a regular year.”
Sources: Sota 13b, Hoshen Mishpat 231, 26