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S.A.L.T. - Wednesday

Rav David Silverberg

          Yesterday, we noted Moshe’s promise in Parashat Nitzavim (30:4) that even if Benei Yisrael find themselves exiled “bi-ktzei ha-shamayim” – “at the edge of the heavens,” God would nevertheless bring them back to their homeland: “from there shall the Lord your God gather you, and from there shall He take you” (30:4).

          Malbim explains the metaphor “bi-ktzei ha-shamayim” – “at the edge of the heavens” – as referring to the furthermost distance, the remotest possible locations, from which returning seems entirely impossible.  Moshe assured the people that no matter how far they are driven from the Land of Israel, God will bring them back to their homeland.

          Rav Avraham Bentzion Borenstein, in Resisei Tal, suggests an additional insight into this verse, noting that Moshe speaks here of “the edge of the heavens,” as opposed to “the edge of the earth.”  Significantly, Moshe envisions Benei Yisrael being driven not to a remote geographic location here on earth, but to a point where they cannot even be said to be on the earth at all.  Rav Borenstein boldly proposes that this alludes to the misconception that will develop over the years of exile that Am Yisrael does not need its homeland.  Having grown accustomed to exile, and to practicing Torah law and tradition outside the Land of Israel, Jews might begin to assume that they can live complete Torah lives without a land.  They will thus find themselves “at the edge of the heavens” – with the assumption that they have no need to return to Eretz Yisrael.  Not only would they be geographically distant from the Land of Israel, but they would be mentally and emotionally distant, as well, as though they were in the “heavens,” not connected to any piece of land.  Moshe here assures Benei Yisrael that even if they reach the point where they feel no need to return to their ancestral homeland, God will bring them there.  Am Yisrael’s mission is not meant to be realized in the “heavens,” apart from a geographical territory.  It is inextricably bound with the Land of Israel, and we are thus promised that even after we acclimate to life in exile, to the point where we no longer feel the need for a national homeland in which to observe the Torah, we will be brought there so that we can achieve our mission in the place and in the manner in which it is to be achieved..



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