“Rabbi Yehuda Bar Simon said: It is one of the three places where thenations of the world would not be able to deceive Israel by claiming: You are thieves (since it was acquired with money). And they
are: The Cave of the Patriarchs, the Temple Mount, and Joseph’s Tomb. The Cave of the Patriarchs, as it is written: ‘And Avraham weighed to Ephron the silver…’; The Temple Mount, as it is written, ‘So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold coins by weight’; Joseph’s
Tomb, as it is written, ‘and he (Yaakov) bought the parcel of ground….at the hand of the children of Hamor, the father of Shchem’ “. (Breishit Raba, 89)
“Would Not be Able”?
Three questions arise from the above midrash: And on the rest of the Land of Israel the gentiles CAN say that we are robbers? What does it mean, “they will not be able”? We see that they are quite
able in undermining our claim to those three places. Indeed, precisely those three places are where they concentrate their struggle! On the verse in Psalms (111), “The power of His works He has declared to His people in giving them the heritage of the nation”, Rashi writes: “so that the nations will not be able to say you are robbers when you conquer the seven nations”. And so, we see that Rashi says that on ALL OF ISRAEL “they cannot say” that we are thieves! The key to the answer of all the above questions is the following: The truth is that it is not really important what the gentiles say – the problem is what the Jews will say! We will now see how this is the exact message that the Torah and our sages gleaned to us through their words.
The Message is Meant for the Jews
The Torah knew that when the gentile would rise up against the Jewish”thieves” and “occupiers” and “conquerors”, there was liable to be someguilt feelings that the Jew might have about the justice of his cause.Perhaps the gentile is right that we stole his land? Perhaps he has anethical argument? And so the sages come to tell us: Look, there are three places that even according to simple logic the gentile cannot open his mouth about, for they were purchased with money. And in any case, this justified claim makes no impression on them. On the contrary, it is precisely in these three places where they center their struggle against us! What does this teach us? That it isn’t justice or ethics which motivates them, nor is it a dispute over property that can be resolved. Rather it is a national – religious struggle!
Now the sages come and explain: Just as you know that in these three places their claims are not justified, by the same token you should not get excited about the rest of their claims on other parts of the land of Israel, since “the entire world belongs to the Holy One, Blessed Be He, He created it and gave it to whomever it was right in his eyes, Of His own will He gave it to them and of His own will He took it from them and gave it to us!” (The first Rashi in the Torah)
This now explains Rashi in the aforementioned Psalm, that “the nations of the world WON’T BE ABLE to say you are robbers”. Not that “they won’t be able to say” it. On the contrary, they’ll say it all the time. But the “won’t be able to” is not directed to the gentile, but rather to the ears
of the Jews! That they must know that G-d gave us the Land, with an obligation to conquer and expel. And so it is said: “The power of His works He has declared to His people in giving them the heritage of the nations” – the answer is intended for “His people”. The gentiles are not being addressed here, either because they will not listen anyway, or perhaps it simply is not important what they think.
Our Eyes Are Upon Those Three Places
Every year, Parshat Chaye Sarah is “Shabbat Hebron”. But this year, events have caused a situation where we are forced to concentrate on all three places: Hebron, Shchem, and the Temple Mount which have become symbols of the Arab-Israeli struggle in the Land of Israel. And there is a good
reason for it. Today, when everything is slipping away, we must hold tight to all the sides, for we have learned that they are all connected to one another. How is that? Behold, the struggle for the Hashmonean tunnel which the Arabs claimed hurt THE TEMPLE MOUNT (“theirs”), brought about the
battle in Judea and Samaria, concentrating mainly in JOSEPH’S TOMB. All this pressured the government to step up the HEBRON evacuation, and to give in to the Arab construction of another mosque on the TEMPLE MOUNT!
Indeed, the battle for the Land of Israel has reached its climax, and those three locations which the “gentile won’t be able” to contest are, in fact, the most hotly contested!