Destiny of a Nation
The selection of the prophets (Jeremiah 32:6-27) that we read in association with Parshas Behar (Leviticus 25:1 – 26:2) describes an event that took place during the waning days of the First Temple. Jeremiah the Prophet was imprisoned for predicting the destruction of Jerusalem. While Jeremiah was in prison his cousin proposed to sell him a field and God commanded Jeremiah to take up his cousin’s proposition. Jeremiah does as he is commanded and he tells the people that his action signifies God’s promise to the people that Israel will yet return from exile and they will buy fields in the Land of Israel.
At first glance, the message of this prophecy seems to stand in contrast with the message of the Torah reading. In the Torah reading we learned that we the land cannot be permanently sold to remind us that we are not permanent residents in the land (Leviticus 25:23). We are merely God’s guests and it is incumbent upon us to keep this truth in mind. The message of Jeremiah’s prophecy seems to be that the people of Israel will always be connected to the Land of Israel. Our place in the land seems to be permanently reserved for us. So what is it? Are we transitory migrants or do we belong on the land?
But perhaps the message of the Torah reading and the message of the selection from the prophets are focused on the same point. The land does not belong to us, but we belong on the land. God created the Land of Israel so that His nation can live up to His plan for them; to live as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This ideal can only be fully reached in the holy land.
The message of the Torah reading is that we should never for an instant think that the land is under our own personal jurisdiction. The land belongs to God and we are but His servants. But neither can we escape our destiny. God sealed a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and as their children we will always be His chosen nation. God will never let us stray to a point that is beyond return.
The selection from the prophets is emphasizing that we will always remain God’s servants. No matter how far we wander, the land will still be waiting for us to return and live up to God’s plan for us. Both the Torah reading and the selection from the prophets teach us that we are not in control. It is not our land and our national destiny is not about our own power and control. Our destiny is to live as a nation that accepts God’s absolute sovereignty in the land where God’s sovereignty is most obvious (Deuteronomy 11:12). And that destiny will certainly be fulfilled.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal