Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tefilah: Hodu 6 [Rav Dovid Lessin]

בהיותכם מתי מספר, כמעט וגרים בה. ויתהלכו מגוי אל גוי, ומממלכה אל עם אחר.

“When you were a numbered people, few and strangers in it (Israel).  And you traveled from people to people, and from one kingdom to another nation.”

Rashi explains that Dovid HaMelech is highlighting the difference between our attachment to Eretz Yisrael and any other nation's attachment to their homeland.  Under ordinary circumstances, a nation's connection to their homeland develops after conquering and inhabiting the land for a period of time as an entire people.  By contrast, our relationship with Eretz Yisrael began when we were few in number - only two (Avraham and Sarah).  Furthermore, we did not live in Eretz Yisrael at the time it was given to us; we were strangers in a land not our own.  We were not even rooted in the land when we received it; we were constantly traveling in and out of it, to Mitzrayim, Grar, and Charan.  Rav Kook explains that our story is different than all other nations because our attachment to Eretz Yisrael is a different kind of attachment.  It is supernatural, granted to us by Hashem, and cannot be explained by ordinary rules.  We have a relationship with Eretz Yisrael that is deep and profound, and is woven into the fabric of the Jewish People, regardless of how many we are and where we happen to be located.

The Siach Yitzchak adds that traveling through peoples and kingdoms poses different threats.  "People" (“goy”) connotes a group without a leader that exhibits thievery and lawlessness, and which loots those who pass through.  "Kingdom" (“mamlacha”) connotes a united group under a leader, which can band together against a common enemy, especially one like Avraham who openly denied their gods.  Yet, despite our wanderings in such dangerous lands, Hashem’s promise of Eretz Yisrael granted us special protection that ensured we would survive all attacks and eventually come home.

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