Uniting with the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
בראשית ברא א-הים את השמים ואת הארץ
“The Heavens are heavens unto HaShem, while earth is given to man.” (Hallel)
The Talmud Brachot brings this verse in context of posing its apparent contradiction to the verse saying “to HaShem is the earth and all that it contains”. The Talmud resolves this seeming contradiction by saying that before one has blessed HaShem when benefiting from this world, the “earth and what it contains” is considered HaShem’s, while after one blesses HaShem on this benefit, “the earth is given to man”, thereby giving one permission of this benefit. This teaches us that only when we acknowledge HaShem’s mastery upon the world by a blessing can we benefit from this world. This said, we see that the Torah at times does not suffice for intellectual and verbal acknowledgement of this matter, but requires this ideal to be exacted more clearly in reality. Such a case is the Jubilee year. Similar to the verse “to HaShem is the earth” is the verse in parshat Behar “to me is the Land”, used in context of the return of lands to their original owners on the Jubilee year.
Let us take a closer look of this fascinating law which highlights how HaShem is really the master of the land. To begin with, we should remember that the laws of the Jubilee year, including the return of lands, only apply when the majority of Israel live in the Land, and are also divided into their tribal territories. There are three essential unique components of the Jubilee year: the blowing of the shofar on Yom Kippur of this year, the release of Jewish servants, and the return of lands to their original owners. Maharal explains in many places that the number seven is the model number for sanctity in the natural world, while eight serves as the model for the super-natural/Divine level. In this way we can understand how Sukkot, the seven day festival, is fixated on using the natural world for sacred purposes, i.e the mitzvah of sukka and its ‘schach’ from natural materials, and the mitzva of taking the four species. However, when we reach Shmini Arzeres/Simhas Torah we shift over to the fixation on Israel and on the Torah, which are considered beyond the natural, as our Sages teach that both Israel and the Torah existed before the world was created (Torah was used as HaShem’s ‘blue-print’ in creating the world).
The fixation of Shmini Atzeres to Israel is learned from the difference of this day’s sacrifices from the rest of the days of Sukkot, which have numerous bulls offered, versus Shmini Atzeres, on which only one bull is offered. Our Sages explain this difference being due to the fact that Sukkot commemorates the 70 nations of the world giving honor to God, while Shmini Atzeres commemorates God’s unique connection to the one nation Israel. In a similar way, the 49 years before the Jubilee year concentrate on sanctity in the natural world, as they function under the model of seven – 7*7. However, on the Jubilee year the world is raised to a reality closer to that of the super-natural, as if before Creation, in which it is clearer that really God is master over all.
Thus, it is only in the Land of the Holy Presence and also only when our People are fully united with this Land (majority of the People living in it) in the proper way (12 territories for 12 tribes corresponding to the 12 permutations of the Tetragammaton) that its super-natural/Divine potential is more greatly brought into reality. Then, the shofar, the instrument used to call us back to our roots, will be blown on Yom Kippur, the day of super-natural tone with no bodily eating, drinking or the like. Then, slaves will be freed to return to their true Divine Master. Then, lands will be returned to their more Divine origins before man’s intervention of selling/purchasing.
This super-natural level of the Holy Land is clearly found in Hebron, Beacon of the Land of Israel, as Maarat HaMachpela is the location of the Entrance to the Lower Garden of Eden, gateway to the afterlife.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #140
“One day, I took my kids in the car to pick up my younger child at the daycare as usual. However, today unlike any other day all my children suddenly decided to leave the car one after the other, instead of staying in the car to wait as they do every day. Just a moment later, an armored vehicle smashed into my car destroying it entirely. If anyone had been in the car they would have been smashed…” M.Z