Photo Credit:
Wall painting depicting the RAMBAN in Acre, Israel

People occasionally ask, “Where is it written in the Torah that we have to build a State?” Apparently, they are not familiar with the words of the giant Torah authority, the Ramban, who repeatedly stated that we are commanded that the Land of Israel be in our hands, and not in the hands of any other nation:

“We were commanded to inherit this Land which Hashem, Blessed Be He, gave to our Forefathers, to Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov, and not to abandon it to the hands of other nations, or abandon it to desolation. Hashem said to them, ‘To inherit the Land and dwell there, for to you I have given the Land to possess, and you shall inherit the Land that I swore to your Forefathers’ – behold, we are commanded with its conquest in every generation (Ramban, Supplement to Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam, Positive Commandment 4).

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The Ramban continues:

“This is what our Sages call ‘Milchemet Mitzvah,’ an obligatory war. This Land is not to be left in the hands of the Seven Nations, or in the hands of any other nation, in any generation whatsoever…this is a positive commandment which applies at every time” (Ramban, ibid).

The Ramban concludes:

“And the proof that this is a Torah commandment is this – they were told in the matter of the Spies, ‘Go up and conquer the Land as Hashem has said to you. Don’t fear, and don’t be discouraged.’ And further it says, ‘And when Hashem sent you from Kadesh Barnea saying, Go up and possess the Land which I gave you, and you rebelled against

Hashem your G-d, and you did not believe in Me, and did not listen to this command’” (Ibid).

All of the early and later Torah authorities, the Rishonim and Achronim, decide the law in this fashion on the basis of the Ramban that the precept of conquering the Land applies in all generations, and all of them agree that it is a commandment of the Torah (Shuchan Oruch, Pitchei T’shuva , Even HaEzer, 75:6).

Sovereignty over a country means having an army, a government, a justice system, an economic system, etc. By commanding us to rule over the Land of Israel, the Torah commands us to establish a State. Rabbi Kook emphasized that whether sovereignty is brought about by a prime minister, a prophet, a judge, or a king, it is valid Jewish sovereignty when it comes on behalf of Clal Yisrael, the encompassing congregation of Israel. (Mishpat Kohen, 337).

Thus, the State of Israel is a commandment of the Torah. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook emphasized that, “The intrinsic value of the State is not dependent on the number of observant Jews here. Of course, our aspiration is that all of our people will embrace the Torah and the mitzvot. Nonetheless, the Statehood of Israel is holy, whatever religious level it contains.”

“There are religious Jews who express a type of criticism and say, ‘If the State of Israel were run according to our lifestyle and spirit, then we would accept it. Until then, we abstain from it.’ They talk as if the State does not belong to them. But the truth is that the State belongs to all of us.”

Rabbi Kook asserted that anyone who refuses to recognize the State of Israel does not recognize Hashem’s rule over what takes place in the world. If the Master of the Universe decided to bring the Jewish People back to the Land of Israel via the vehicle of the State of Israel, who are we to complain or disagree?

Rabbi Kook said that we had to be patient, that Redemption came slowly in gradual stages, little by little (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 1:1), and that it would reach perfection with time.

“In the Talmud, our Sages explain that all of the material used in building the Temple became sanctified only after it was set into place. We build with the profane and sanctify afterward (Meilah 14A and B, see Rashi there). This was enacted because our Sages realized that during the construction, workers would sit in the shade of the building to rest from the sun, and thus improperly derive personal benefit from something which had been exclusively dedicated for the use of the Temple. The Beit HaMikdash was built in this fashion, and this is the way the Redemption of Israel develops, in stages, little by little. Just as the stones used in building the Temple were not sanctified at first, so, too, the building of Eretz Yisrael is accomplished by every segment of the Nation, by the righteous and by the less righteous. We build with the secular, even though this causes complications and problems, and little by little all of the various problems will vanish, and the sanctification of Hashem will appear in more and more light.”

As we say in Israel, “Savlenut,” Patience, my friends. Patience.

Happy Yom HaAtzmaut!

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