Rabbi Yissachar Frand writes a beautiful explanation in this week’s Parsha related to 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 is the connection in the Tochacha between the land laying waste and our enemies being punished?
Rabbi Frand quotes from the Ramban 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 blessing for the Jewish people in the midst of the curse.
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 blessing that the land would be desolate, that we were able to reclaim it.
Rabbi Frand concludes that is why it is also a blessing 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 blessing of the Parsha came through for us.
What is obvious from the Parsha is that the Land of Israel is different. If we open our eyes, we see clearly the Divine providence by which G-d guides and continues to guide all of 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.