Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunny Days and a Thirsty Land

The beautiful fall weather continues - deliciously warm and sunny days, chilly nights. Autumn doesn't get much better than this.

Even so, we desperately need the rain and the enjoyment of the lovely warmth is tinged with concern over the future of our water situation here in Israel....a very precarious one, with a looming crisis in the offing.

The Torah tells us something very interesting about the rains in Israel.

י כִּי הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה בָא-שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ--לֹא כְאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם הִוא, אֲשֶׁר יְצָאתֶם מִשָּׁם: אֲשֶׁר תִּזְרַע אֶת-זַרְעֲךָ, וְהִשְׁקִיתָ בְרַגְלְךָ כְּגַן הַיָּרָק.
10 For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou didst sow thy seed, and didst water it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs;

לְרִשְׁתָּהּ--אֶרֶץ הָרִים, וּבְקָעֹת; לִמְטַר הַשָּׁמַיִם, תִּשְׁתֶּה-מָּיִם.
11 but the land, whither ye go over to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water as the rain of heaven cometh down;
יב אֶרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ דֹּרֵשׁ אֹתָהּ: תָּמִיד, עֵינֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בָּהּ--מֵרֵשִׁית הַשָּׁנָה, וְעַד אַחֲרִית שָׁנָה. {ס}
12 a land which the LORD thy God careth for; the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year. {S}
יג וְהָיָה, אִם-שָׁמֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶל-מִצְו‍ֹתַי, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם, הַיּוֹם--לְאַהֲבָה אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, וּלְעָבְדוֹ, בְּכָל-לְבַבְכֶם, וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁכֶם.
13 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul,
יד וְנָתַתִּי מְטַר-אַרְצְכֶם בְּעִתּוֹ, יוֹרֶה וּמַלְקוֹשׁ; וְאָסַפְתָּ דְגָנֶךָ, וְתִירֹשְׁךָ וְיִצְהָרֶךָ.
14 that I will give the rain of your land in its season, the former rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:10-14 (verses and translation:

The Torah is saying that Israel isn't like Egypt where the crops and land are watered by irrigation trenches etc. The Land of Israel, which G-d watches over continually, will be watered only by the rains from heaven. And those rains are dependent upon us, His People. These verses are directed to the nation, not to individuals.

If we as a nation hearken and re-hearken (hearken in this passage is a double verb) to the commandments that G-d gives us - "to love G-d and serve Him with all our heart and soul " - THEN He will bring the rains in their seasons, the former and latter rains. If we choose NOT to hearken to His Word to us to love Him and serve Him with our whole heart, then G-d will withhold the rain.

It's pretty straightforward. The verses continue to define the parameters of "the Land" in question. In verse 24: .."Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the hinder sea shall be your border."

As a people we may have endless discussions about the commandments and what they mean or don't mean, but in this context, at it's simplest, spurning the very Land that G-d cares for, and which His eyes are continually upon, SURELY is not indicative of loving G-d and serving Him with our whole heart.

On the contrary, from Gush Katif to Amona, from Yitzhar to Hebron, we have not loved and defended the Land. And instead of serving G-d (let alone with our whole heart!) we are serving a god of false peace by offering up the Land of Israel.

If we don't love the Land He loves, with the deepest of passion, and we have the temerity to try to give it away, why should He bring the rains for our hills and valleys to drink up??

This goes for the collective nation, across all segments -from the most devoutly observant to the most secular secular. As a People, we have only brought this pending water crisis upon ourselves (along with several other pending crises).

As a People we can do teshuva and begin to love that which G-d loves....and to hearken to His Word. ....we must!!

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