The weekly messages in this column promoting Israel and aliyah, like the parashot themselves, are both sweet and inspiring. The Shabbat of Mas’ei, heralding the infamous Nine Days, is, however, a starker time.
According to the Ramban, a verse in Mas’ei (33:53) serves as the source for the mitzvah to live in Eretz Israel (33:53). That verse is followed almost immediately by the warning in verse 55:"But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your side; they will harass you upon the Land in which you dwell."The Talmud (Sotah 34a) relates that right before entering the land, Yehoshua addressed the Jewish People as follows: "Be aware that you are crossing the Jordan only on the condition that you expel the inhabitants from the land." The Torah Temimah explains that Yehoshua read the Israelites the verses from Mas’ei so that they should clearly understood the terms of their "legally binding" contract with God - maintaining the land is absolutely conditioned on driving away its current inhabitants!
If we had had 2 million, not 200,000, living on the land God gifted to us in 1967, the previous inhabitants would no longer be there to, as the Midrash Hagadol warns, "in the end harass you and rejoice in your misfortune." Likewise, the events originally scheduled for Tishah B'Av this year (the Expulsion from Gaza) could never have become the newest addition to the litany of Jewish misery. If we want to reverse this course, we must simply fulfill our side of the contract and make aliyah!
I have no argument, only that perhaps the word "simply" does not apply.
The trait of honesty is more valuable than gold and pearls. It is therefore only to be found in the possession of a few unique individuals who appreciate its worth and are aware of the amount of effort needed in order to attain it.
Ain't that the truth?!