Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Lech Lecha - 5773
The Talmud in Bava Batra notes that according to Rabbi Eliezer walking the length and width of a field is considered a Kinyan- a form of acquisition and a proprietary act. Rabbi Eliezer finds a biblical source for his opinion from the fact that Avraham Avinu was told by Hashem to “walk through the length and the breadth of the land for I will give it to you." He argues that the verse implies that our ancestor Avraham acquired the land of Canaan by walking on it.
The Sages disagree with Rabbi Eliezer and maintain that walking is not a form of a Kinyan. The Talmud wonders how the Sages interpret the verse if it is not there to teach a form of acquisition.
The answer given is that due to the love God had for Avraham he told him to walk on the land “so that it will be easy for his descendants to conquer.”
Commentators explain that the conquest and settling of any land is a difficult task. This statement is especially true for the land of Israel since, according to the rabbis, it is only acquired through tribulations.
When the Jew makes his way home to Eretz Yisrael he undoubtedly will face challenge. However by being knowledgeable of the fact that this is the land of our ancestors and that Avraham Avinu walked the length and the breadth of the land, the Jew senses a connection to the terrain that will help to overcome all obstacles. Thus Avraham being told to walk the land was indeed a gift to his descendants for eternity.