Rabbi Yissachar Frand writes a beautiful explanation in this week’s Parsha regarding the Tochacha, the frightening prophecy of what will happen to the Jewish people in the future. In the middle of the misery, the Torah writes, “and I will lay waste to the land, and your enemies who dwell in it will be punished.” What does this mean? What is the connection in the Tochacha between the land laying waste and our enemies being punished?
Rabbi Frand quotes from the Ramban – Nachmanides - who sees the laying waste of the land and the punishment of our enemies as a consolation in the middle of the Tochacha. G-d gives an assurance to the Jewish people that when they are in exile, the Land of Israel will not be hospitable to foreign invaders and occupiers. The Land of Israel is described in the Torah as a land flowing with milk and honey. But, for 1900 years, the Land of Israel was barren. Yet, this was a bracha for the Jewish people in the midst of the curse.
Imagine if the Indians tried to reclaim Manhattan. They would say, “We sold it to you for $24, we will give you back $48.” That wouldn’t get too far. Neither would $48,000, $48 million or $48 billion.
Imagine the Jewish people trying to reclaim their homeland from the British or Turks, if it were a “Manhattan Island” - a prosperous land. There is no way the British would have agreed to give it to us. It was only through the Bracha that the land would be desolate, that we were able to reclaim it.
Rabbi Frand concludes that is why it is also a bracha that the Land of Israel is a land that flows with milk and honey – but not oil. The oil is all around the neighborhood, but not in Israel. Why? It would have been extremely difficult to reclaim the land. Once again, the bracha of the Parsha came through for us.
What is therefore obvious from the Parsha is that the Land of Israel is different. I have heard several people express their dismay with various past Presidential administrations over their policies towards Israel and the Palestinians. While it is true that their policies did not seem to work in our favor, we should have taken a step back, analyzed the Parsha, and realized what was happening.
What happens in Israel has nothing to do with the President of the United States, whether it is Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush I, George Bush II, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. What happens in Israel is solely dependent upon our behavior. If we do what we are supposed to do, the President of the United States would not have any influence over the situation. It is only when we let down on our Jewish behavior, that we become weakened and all these events happen. That is the pattern in Tanach and the Tanach is our guideline for viewing Jewish History.
If we open our eyes, we see clearly the Divine providence by which G-d guides and continues to guide all the Jewish people. We must do our best to guarantee that continued Divine guidance and we must pray to G-d that we only see good things for the Land of Israel and the entire Jewish people.