(וירשת אותם וישבת בארצם (יב:כט ,כי יכרית ה’ אלוקיך את הגויים אשר אתה בא שמה לרשת אותם מפניך
When the Lord your God will cut down the nations, which you come to drive them out from before you, you shall drive them out and dwell in their Land (12:29).
The Midrash Sifrei comments on this verse:
WHEN THE LORD YOUR GOD WILL CUT DOWN THE NATIONS: Perform a mitzvah stated in this context, and in its merit the Lord your God will cut down the nations. WHICH YOU COME TO DRIVE THEM OUT FROM BEFORE YOU: In the merit of coming, you will drive them out…
The Malbim explains that the words “which you come to drive them out” are superfluous. The Torah could have simply stated, When the Lord your God will cut down the nations from before you. Therefore, Chazal understood that when the Jews perform the mitzvah of coming to the Land, in order to drive the nations out, HaShem will cut down our enemies, and we will succeed in driving them out.
How appropriate these words are for our current predicament. I have asserted so many times that the only way to defeat our enemies is to pick up and move to Eretz Yisrael. This is true from both a natural and supernatural perspective. From a natural perspective, the more Jews that live in the Land, the less chance the Arabs have of driving us out. Their ultimate goal is to outnumber us and defeat us “democratically.” Fareed Zakaria wrote in Newsweek (Aug. 13, 2001): “Two week’s ago one of Israel’s leading demographers, Arnon Sofer of Haifa University, published a monograph that has received much attention in Israel. Sofer predicts that by 2020 the area comprising Israel and the occupied territories will be 58 percent Arab. For Israel, the Palestinian problem is going to get more difficult with each passing year. Arafat well understands this, which is why he has often said that his strongest weapon is ‘the womb of the Arab woman.’ ” All we need is a mass aliyah of Jews from the “West” to end the “Palestinian problem” forever. We must make it very clear to the Arabs that we are not going anywhere; on the contrary, our numbers will increase despite their terror.
From a supernatural perspective, we must show HaShem that we are willing to sacrifice for His Land, and then He will intervene on our behalf. This is exactly what the above-cited Midrash teaches us: In the merit of the mitzvah of coming to the Land, HaShem will cut down our enemies and allow us to drive them out. All we have to do is look beyond our own selfish concerns and think about the Klal a little more. True, one’s personal life might be a bit more difficult in Eretz Yisrael, but each of us is part of a whole known as Klal Yisrael, and that whole needs us all in the Holy Land.
The Midrash continues: YOU SHALL DWELL IN THEIR LAND: Once, R. Yehudah ben Beteira, R. Matya ben Charash, R. Chanina son of the brother of R. Yehoshua, and R. Yonatan were leaving the Land. They reached Paltum [a place in Chutz LaAretz] and remembered Eretz Yisrael. They lifted their eyes; their tears began to flow; they tore their garments, and they read this verse, You shall drive them out and dwell in their Land. Then, they returned to their place and said, “Dwelling in Eretz Yisrael is equal to all the mitzvot of the Torah.”
(The Midrash goes on to tell an almost identical story involving R. Elazar ben Shamu’a and R. Yochanan HaSandlar, who left Eretz Yisrael to learn Torah under R. Yehudah ben Beteira.)
The Torah Temimah explains: It is impossible to fulfill all of the Torah’s commandments except in Eretz Yisrael, because many of them depend on the Land, as is well known. And even those mitzvot that depend on the body were given mainly to be kept in Eretz Yisrael; that is their entire purpose… The reason we keep them in the Diaspora is only so that they are not forgotten when the Jews return to the Land… Therefore, it follows that the mitzvah of dwelling in the Land is equal to all the rest, because it is the foundation and basis of the fulfillment of all the mitzvot.
Thus, the Midrash on this week’s parashah provides us with two very compelling reasons to make aliyah – for our own spiritual benefit (to help us fulfill all the mitzvot), and for the benefit of Klal Yisrael (to help us defeat our enemies). Whichever reason you choose, and even if you have your own reasons, the important thing is to come back home. Then, we will begin to see salvations and consolations, speedily in our days. Amen.