Settling The Land Of Israel

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From the time the Jewish people were driven out of their land, the dream to return and resettle it was born. In essence, this was not just age-old dream to be an independent nation living in its land, but, rather, a biblical command.
“And you shall conquer the land, and dwell therein; for unto you have I given the land to possess it.” (Numbers 33:53).
Building in the land of Israel, developing the country and working the land agriculturally are all considered highly important commandments.
“And I will give the rain of your land in its season, the former rain and the latter rain, and you will gather in your corn, and your wine, and your oil” (Deuteronomy 11: 14)
Perhaps, the most profound aspect of the Nation of Israel returning to the Land of Israel, is that there are biblical commandments that can only be fulfilled in Israel. The Shmittah/Sabbatical year which comes once every seven years can only be fulfilled in the Holy Land. Special tithes of produce which are given to the poor, to the Leviites and the priests are only given in the Land of Israel. In essence, in order to fulfill a great number of biblical commandments, to be the nation that God had intended for them to be, The Jewish People must live in their land.
There is a question of when all of these things come into effect. After all, it was not easy to live in the Holy Land hundreds of years ago. There were many dangers involved, and poverty was prevalent. There were Jewish scholars who said that without a Jewish State, there is no commandment to live in Israel. Others, such as Nachmanides, said that the commandment to dwell in the Land of Israel is in force during all periods of time – past, present and future.
Nachmanides continues to explain that part of the commandment is not to leave the land barren, but to work and develop it. Environmental preservation also appears in Jewish sources. The Talmud discusses the importance of leaving areas clean of waste and litter. Planting trees is considered a deed of great value. Creating public parks, gardens, and nature preserves in the Land of Israel is another facet of the all-embracing commandment of settling the Land of Israel.
Centuries ago, the Holy Land truly laid desolate, a wasteland of desert and rocky terrain. It is no wonder that as the Jewish Nation streamed back to its homeland from the end of the 19th century onwards, there was a dramatic change in the way the land began to look as well as produce crops. As early as the 1870’s the first Jewish agricultural school, Mikvah Yisrael, opened its gates. The agricultural town of Petah Tiqvah was started several years later followed by Zichron Yaakov and Rishon L’Tzion. In 1901 the Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael, the first Jewish non-profit meant to purchase land and plant trees throughout the Land of Israel, was created. Huge forests sprang up throughout the country, growing out of the coins dropped into the Keren Kayemet charity boxes in Jewish homes world-wide. The wasteland had turned fertile and productive. It was a exciting to travel through the Holy Land and observe the landscape that had not existed several decades earlier.
The People of Israel continue to plant and create agricultural and nature areas through the land; to make it flourish. Many Jewish settlers did not come because of the biblical commandment to make the land flourish, but , because of the desire burning within them to connect again with their homeland. In an unconscious decision, the Jewish people chose to be the nation that God had intended: to connect the Nation of Israel with the Land of Israel. Today, yet another level has been added. The Jewish, religious community has begun to apply the ancient biblical commandments such as tithes to the poor, the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year to what has become an incredible agricultural accomplishment. Ancient Israel has joined modern Israel, and the physical and spiritual have united in true harmony to create the reality that God had intended for the Nation of Israel in its land.

Published: July 24, 2015
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