Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Behar-Bechukotai - 5772
THE ABUNDANCE IN ISRAEL
"And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it." Vayikra 26:32
Rashi notes that this verse implies a comfort of sort: although Israel would be exiled from its land, none of its conquerors or successors would ever prosper on it.
Indeed throughout the many centuries of Jewish exile, Eretz Yisrael, once a land flowing with milk and honey, remained a desolate, inhospitable country. In the words of the prophet Yirmiyahu, "I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals; and I will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there."
Mark Twain visited Israel in 1867, and published his impressions in Innocents Abroad. He described a desolate country – devoid of both vegetation and human population: “….. a desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
The Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin records several signs that indicate the arrival of the Mashiach. Rabbi Abba notes that the greatest indication of the imminent arrival of the Mashiach is when Eretz Yisrael will yield fruit in abundance. Rabbi Abba bases his teaching on the verse in Ezekiel 36:8 that states, "But you, O mountains of Israel, shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel, for they will soon come home." In the verse Hashem tells the land of Israel to resume producing fruit in preparation for the return of the Jewish people.
Seeing the abundance produced in Israel in our generation is an opportunity to be thankful, yet it obligates every Jew to do their part in making the world a better place and indeed merit the redemption.
Shabbat Shalom. Yom Yerushalayim Sameach!