Parshas Acharei Mos - Perspective

By BJLife/Reb Dovid Fink

Posted on 05/03/19

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
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At the end of this weeks Parsha, we find one of the first explicit references to the fact that Eretz Yisroel is fundamentally different than any other place on planet Earth.  The Pasuk says “the land will spit you out as it did the nations before you” (Acharei Mos, 18:28)                         Indeed, the idea of the land being incompatible with certain types of behavior is exclusive for Eretz Yisroel. We are warned not to copy the conduct of the Mitzrim, but nowhere do we see that Mitzrayim could not tolerate the practices of its inhabitants. 

We also see that many Mitzvos in the Torah only apply in Eretz Yisroel.[1]  The Avos recognized the specialness of Eretz Yisroel – keeping the mitzvos while there even though they had not been commanded to do so as of that time.  The land is special – Hashem is always watching over it. (Eikev, 11:12) Kabbalistic sources say that the air itself is different.  Various other places in Navi say that the land will only produce for Bnei Yisroel.  An agricultural oxymoron which we have seen with our own eyes.  Eretz Yisroel lay barren for a thousand years.  Nations could not grow a weed.  Upon the return of B’nei Yisroel, the land produces again and abundantly.  Eretz Yisroel is not just the most special place on the planet – it is directly connected to the Jewish people.

Yet, regrettably we are once again experiencing that time of year where certain groups feel obligated to criticize and point out the shortcomings of the current government of Medinas Yisroel.  I am keenly aware of many of the shortcomings.  My point is not to “take sides” in this highly charged political and Hashkafic controversy.  I will say one thing though which must be kept in mind by all.  Never in the history of the world has there been a single person, a single organization or any government which has directed more dollars to supporting Limud Hatorah than Medinas Yisoel.  At the very least, some Hakoras Hatov is in order. 

Hours after this past weeks attack in California, The Chabad Rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein reacted to the horrific shooting which blew off two of his fingers by proclaiming “the only way to combat such hate is with more love for all.”  Charity starts at home.  We can all strive to reach Rabbi Goldstein’s level but before that we have to get off the cycle of trying to prop ourselves up by putting others down.  We all must rededicate ourselves to stop behavior and narratives which are divisive.

The Gemara says that Bayis Rishon was destroyed because B’nei Yisroel were involved with the three cardinal Aveiros – Giluy Arayos, Shfichas Damim and Avoda Zorah.  Yet during Bayis Sheini, they were Oskim Batorah Umitzvos.  Their failing – Sinas Chinam.  From this the Gemara learns that Sinas Chinam is equal to the three cardinal sins.[2]  Indeed, our sages taught us that one who saves a single Jewish life is as if he saved the entire world.[3]  The Gemara does not say a single Jewish life of particular political views or affiliations.  We must deal with this radical idea – we need each other! And we must value each other. Perhaps if we could find it within all of our hearts to again appreciate the value of every Jew, even those we have fundamental disagreements with, we would be Zoche to Bayis Shlishi.

[1] Bikurim, Shmita, Karbanos, Leket, Shickcha and Peah are just a few examples.

[2] Yoma, 9B

[3] Sanhedrin, 37A