Connecting to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
“עתה ידעתי כי גדול ה’ מכל הא-הים”
“And all shall come to serve You, and shall give You a crown of majesty” (Piyut of Yomim Noraim). One of the aspirations of Judaism is to bestow the light of God upon all nations of the world to the farthest reaches, so that all shall acknowledge the mastery and majesty of the King of Kings, HaShem, as Yitro ‘the priest of Midyan’ proclaims, ‘now I know that HaShem is greater than any other power/god’. Part of this aspiration is that, not only should all nations have acknowledgment of HaShem’s mastery, but that this acknowledgment be so pronounced that all nations even conduct their lives according to the teachings of God in regard to the Noahide commandments, which fill the world with good and justice.
These commandments entail the obligation to pursue justice through an organized judicial system, and the prohibition on idolatry, blaspheming, incest, murder, theft, and the consumption of organisms while still alive. Although these are the main commandments, there are also some more laws of lesser status incumbent on all nations, such as the prohibition to graft different species of trees and breed different species of animals. We also learn that there are certain nations that in addition to these commandments were also commanded to circumcise their males, these being the descendants of Ketura, born to Avraham after being commanded on circumcision, who are considered today to be mingled with the offspring of Yishmael, thereby rendering them all under the obligation to commit circumcision on the 8th day. Although the aspiration is that all nations of the world commit the Noahide laws, Torah teaches us that in the Holy Land in particular there is especially high sensitivity to the commitment of these laws. This sensitivity is such to an extent that only one who takes on these Noahide laws in this manner can be granted citizenship to stay as a permanent dweller in the Land, a status called ‘ger toshav’, the ‘residential convert’ (to be differentiated from a full convert to Judaism).
Hebron, as the burial place of both primordial Man, Adam, and of the Patriarchs of the Jewish People reminds us, the Jewish People, of our responsibility to enlighten the entire world, the descendants of Adam, with the light of God, to such an extent that we shall indeed be called by all, as the words of the prophet: ‘a light upon the nations’ (Isaiah 49, 6).
Real Stories from the Holy Land #106:
“Once my wife needed to fly to India, so I drove her to the airport. However, on the way my car broke down, and my wife was in danger of missing her flight. As I prayed to be helped, just then a car stopped for us which just ‘happened’ to be driving to the airport. After my wife left on that ride I was left to handle with the car in the heat of summer, and I became very thirsty. Just then, a truck randomly stopped, and offered me refreshing water.”
Sources: Rambam Mlachim vemilhamot ch. 9-10
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