Why Israel? - לך לך

Thursday, 3 November, 2022 - 9:43 pm


Why Israel? 


There are various interpretations as to why Israel was selected to be the Holy Land, the homeland of the Jewish people. The Midrash explains that when Abraham arrived in the land, he saw its inhabitants laboring in agriculture. He desired the land because he valued the toil and labor that the land required. The Medrash relates:


When Abraham was traveling through Aram Naharaim… he saw the people eating, drinking and acting foolishly. He said, “I hope my portion will not be in this land.” When he reached the high ground of Tzur and saw the people busy weeding… and hoeing…, he said, “If only my portion were to be in this land.” Hashem said to him, “To your descendants, I will give this land.” (Bereishis Rabbah 39:8.)


This raises the question, what is the value of toil? Why did G-d, who is the ultimate good, place us in an environment where we must exert effort in order to achieve success? The sole reason cannot be because it is human nature to enjoy and appreciate the fruit of own labor more than an unearned gift, for that nature itself is a Divine creation. Why, then, would G-d create humanity with a practical and psychological need to toil and invest effort to achieve success? 


The ultimate goodness that a created being can achieve is to connect to and therefore reflect G-dliness. The only way to do that, the way to “partner with G-d in creation”, is when we become givers. By definition, created beings are recipients from the Creator, whereas the Creator is the ultimate giver. Thus, in each of our lives, to the extent that we receive, we are creations, and to the extent that we give, we become like the Creator. 


To truly become givers, we must create something that was not gifted to us but is a product of our own toil and effort. G-d created challenges and difficulties not to give us a hard time but rather to give us the opportunity to connect to the Creator by becoming a partner with G-d in creation. 


In the Rebbe’s words: 


The true and ultimate good is that a person reaches a level on which he becomes, so to speak, similar to his Creator, as our Sages put it, “ G-d’s partner in the process of Creation.” Therefore, G-d established the order of creation such that a person’s needs do not come easily but through hard work and toil. This is in order that this way he will be elevated (not only to the perfection of a worthy “recipient” — the perfection of a created being — but even) to the level of being a “giver” (and bring something into existence), similar to his Creator. This is achieved when a person toils and creates by his own effort. (Lekutei Sichos Lech Licha, 15:4)



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