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S.A.L.T. - Wednesday


          The opening verses of Parashat Bechukotai describe the blessings God promises to bestow upon Benei Yisrael in reward for their observance of the commandments.  These blessings speak mainly of two categories: prosperity and security.  First, Benei Yisrael are promised abundant rainfall and a surplus of produce. Thereafter, God speaks of military success and the blessing of security, the ability to live without fear of attack.

         Interestingly, though, one verse seems to itself combine both themes: "Your threshing shall overtake the vintage, and your vintage shall overtake the sowing; you shall eat your fill of bread and dwell securely in your land" (26:5).  How do the two halves of this verse – agricultural success and security - relate to one another?  By and large, this section separates between these two areas of blessing; why does this verse combine the two?

         The Or Ha-chayim suggests that the description of agricultural prosperity in this verse includes an additional element – that foreigners will perform the labor in the fields for Benei Yisrael.  This situation naturally results in a need for security: if Benei Yisrael spend their days in their homes, offices or yeshivas, while foreign workers tend to their fields, they need a special blessing to protect their property from the hostility possibly felt by their laborers. 

         Previously, however, the Or Ha-chayim suggests a different, simpler interpretation, one to which we can very easily relate in our times.  Agricultural success means little if the nation is constantly preoccupied with security.  Beautiful homes, large bonuses and expensive cars do little for a nation if it must consistently deal with wars and conflict.  Therefore, the natural culmination of the blessings of financial prosperity is the blessing of security.  The Or Ha-chayim then adds a comment about the word "be-artzekhem" ("in your land") in this verse.  He claims that this word comes to explain to what type of security the verse refers: a situation where our right to the land is accepted and unchallenged.  "You shall dwell securely in your land" thus means, "You shall dwell securely, for all will recognize that this is your land."

         The modern history of the Land of Israel affords us a perspective by which we can add a further dimension to this interpretation to our verse.  So long as there was no threshing or sowing in the land, we faced no challenge to our right to Eretz Yisrael, and we thus had no particular need for security living there.  But once Benei Yisrael come to Eretz Yisrael and "eat your fill of bread," then suddenly we are confronted, we are challenged, we are denied our historic and divine right to our homeland.  It is at this point, when the first half of this verse is fulfilled, that we so desperately call to the Almighty in prayer that He fulfill the second half, as well: "You shall dwell securely in your land," that the nations of the world once and for all acknowledge our right to Eretz Yisrael, so that we can once and for all dwell securely, without fear of bloodshed and conflict.

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