Calling Ourselves Towards the Shechina in Our Holy Land
“וכי תבאו אל הארץ ונטעתם כל עץ מאכל וערלתם את ערלתו את פריו” (ויקרא יט, כג)
“Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens, HaShem your God will gather you from there… will bring you to the land which your forefathers possessed… and He will do good to you… And HaShem your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, [so that you may] love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, for the sake of your life” (Dvarim 30). It is by bringing us to the Land of Purity (Mikvaot ch. 8) that HaShem circumcises our hearts to be aware of His Holy Presence upon us, thus causing us to love Him with all our heart and soul. These words shed light on the meaning of the mitzvah of “orlah”, literally meaning “uncircumcised (fruit)” or “blocked (see Rashi) fruit” mentioned in our title quote as being specifically connected to entering the Land. Although according to our Oral Tradition much of the laws of orlah are the same outside the Land, there are certain laws of orlah which retain the unique quality of the Land (prohibition in state of doubt, for example). The meaning of “orlah”, “uncircumcised” or “blocked” אטם is connected to the concept of impurity טמא, which blocks one’s spiritual channels, as we discussed at length in parshat Vayeshev. We can say that it is because of our Holy Land’s high sensitivity to purity, which means opening the spiritual channels (see p. Vayeshav), that the initial fruits of “blockage (orlah)” are especially prohibited in the Land. This sensitivity is explicitly mentioned earlier in our week’s parsha (Lev. 18, 28): “And let the Land not vomit you out for having impurified it, as it vomited out the nation that preceded you.” Ultimately, however, this difficult “blockage” is lifted to give way to the path of holiness, the “holy fruit” of the fourth year unique to the Land of Israel (Rambam Maaser Sheni veNeta Revai 9, 1). The Midrash on our title quote (Vayikra Raba 25, 3) teaches us that it is by coming to “the Land our forefathers possessed” and planting trees within it that we follow this path of holiness emulating how God first planted trees in the Garden of Eden (nevertheless, it may be said that today building houses in the Land proceeds planting trees – see “Nahalat Yakov sect. 3). This path of holiness goes through a difficult, initial and inevitable stage of “blockage”-impurity till this blockage is removed. Similarly, in regard to the return to Zion in general it is said in Tehilim (126): “those who sowed with tears, with rejoice will reap (their harvest)”. It is our support of the settlement of Hebron that all these strands of thought come together: to emulate God in settling the Threshold of the Garden of Eden, the Maarat HaMachpela, to “plant trees”, build and settle our Holy Land, to remind HaShem to return our People to Zion, “to remember the kindness of our Forefathers and bring us a redeemer, for His Namesake with love”.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #14: “There is a couple who lives in Kiryat Arba who we had been friendly with for a number of years, even though we didn’t live in Kiryat Arba. We hadn’t heard from them for several months. One week, we decided to buy real-estate in Kiryat Arba. Suddenly, that same week this couple asked us (without knowing at all about our recent decision to move to Kiryat Arba) if we could host their daughter by us for Shabbat.”