Masay: The Problem of Going Half-Way

While it is true that the national religious movement in Israel has put forth great efforts in the fulfilling of the mitzvah “Yishuv Ha’Aretz” (the settling of the land), it is important to point out that they are familiar with only half of the mitzvah. For the mitzvah of “Yishuv Ha’Aretz” has two sides to it. Well known to us all is the first side – the establishing of settlements. That’s the “nice” part of the mitzvah. But it is the other side that has been totally ignored by those who proudly wave the banner of “Yishuv Ha’Aretz”. Obviously, we are speaking of the mitvah of expelling the gentile from the land. The word used in the Torah and numerous times in our parsha is “horashtem”, which literally means “you shall disinherit”. Rashi defines that “ugly” word “horashtem” as “gerashtem”, meaning,” you shall expell”. In any case, it is an inseperable part of the mitzvah of “Yishuv Ha’Aretz”.

Settling the land and expelling the gentiles in it are not only two sides of the same mitzvah, but each side is actually dependent upon the other. The Torah constantly warns us about the impossibility of fulfilling just half of the mitzvah: “If you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, those who remain shall be barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, causing you troubles in the land you settle.” (Numbers 33:55) The Sforno adds: “If you don’t BURN THEM OUT (the gentile inhabitants), even though you have conquered the land, you won’t merit to inherit the land for your children”. And here are the prophetic but painful words of the Ohr HaChayim: “Not only will they hold unto the part of the land that you weren’t able to conquer, but even the parts that you succeeded in conquering, they will say to you, ‘get out of here!'” In short, one is dependent on the other – there is no inheriting without disinheriting.

Let us now jump to the dramatic moment when Israel crossed the Jordan River. Here we witness an incredible event. While still in the middle of the Jordan, Joshua tells them: “Know why you are crossing the Jordan – so that you expell the inhabitants of the land from before you as the verse says, ‘and you shall disinherit the inhabitants of the land from before you…’ If you do, fine. And if not, these waters will come down and sweep away you and me…” (Sota 34) One may ask: While the thrashing waters of the Jordan were standing 12 miles high about to swamp the Jewish People, was this a time for Joshua to deliver a speech? The answer is that Joshua knew that a lack of understanding of the importance of the mitzvah of expelling the gentile would pose a constant threat to the Jews, placing their entire mission in jeapardy. Thus he warned them. Know, that if you do not intend on throwing out the gentile from the land, there is no reason to continue. It is better that the waters drown us now. Indeed, a rather effective way to convey a difficult message.

In spite of all this, the Jewish People failed in their task, and allowed many gentiles to continue to reside in the land. As a result, they were severely chastized for their sin by the angel of G-d: “Moreover, I said I will not drive them out from before you, but they shall be as snares to you and their gods shall be as a trap to you.” (Judges 2) At this stage begins the description of the spiritual deterioration that characterized the times of the Book of Judges. Indeed, as G-d warned, the root of the evil was the lack of expulsion of all the gentiles from the land, their mere presence causing the Jews to learn from their evil ways.

And now history repeats itself before our very eyes. The leaders of the settler movements made a tragic mistake in thinking all these years that they can build one yishuv after another and in the meantime ignore the existence of two million Arabs who surround these settlements and dream of the day when they can throw them into the sea. No less tragic is their absurd reaction to Arab terror – that they will build another yishuv. Nonsense! The very opposite is true. ANOTHER SETTLEMENT IS NOT THE ANSWER TO THE ARAB TERROR, BUT RATHER THE ARAB TERROR IS A RESULT OF US BEING CONTENT WITH MAKING SETTLEMENTS AND NOT COMPLETING THE ENTIRE MITZVAH – WHICH IS THE EXPULSION OF THE ARABS. The solution to the terror is the fulfillment of the ENTIRE mitzvah of “Yishuv Ha’Aretz” Here is the choice: Either all those faithful to Torah and Eretz Yisrael overcome their fear of “what will the left say” and adopt for themselves a new agenda which includes fulfilling part two of the mitzvah “Yishuv Ha’Aretz” or they pathetically refuse to fulfill this Torah commandment and thereby bring about the dismantlement of all that they have built for the past twenty years. How ironic. All those who refused to listen to Parshat Masay are forced now to listen to the left’s arguement, “You can’t occupy a foreign people”. The left is basically correct, only their conclusion is warped. But the logical Jewish approach is clear: Either us or them. The time has come that we decide once and for all.

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