Rabbi Shimon said: “There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty; but the crown of a good name excels them all.” Avot (4:13) (as cited by etzion.org.il)
Lest you say that the other crowns surpass the crown of Torah, surely it is stated (Mishlei 8:15-16): “By me, kings reign, princes decree justice, and nobles rule.” Thus, you have learned that the crown of Torah is greater than the other two. (Rambam-Hilkhot Talmud Torah 3:1) (as cited by etzion.org.il)
The Torah warned us. Eretz Yisrael is different from every other place on earth. Weather patterns, the presence of dangerous carnivorous predators, the inability to settle the land, all of them are based upon following Torah. The absence of Torah leads to predators both man and beast. It promises the absence of vital rain in a region of the earth where every drop is precious and assures us that our enemies will vex us as thorns and thistles. Hell, this is a land which physically vomits us out if we mimic abominations. The Torah assures us of these things. The opposite is true. In this land of Divine Providence, if we follow Torah we are guaranteed by G-d that we will flourish as a people in our land.
I love Eretz Yisrael. I also live in Eretz Yisrael. I picked up and left America years ago, not out of fear from gentiles or the need to escape from persecution, but because of a love of Torah and because I believed that it remains a halachic requirement today. Eretz Yisrael is beloved and essential to me, but as a religious Jew, ONLY through the prism of Torah. It is time for Torah-minded Jews to loudly proclaim that our right to Eretz Yisrael is a Divine one. And the Divine right is an extension of our blueprint for living, as found only in Torah.
Too many alien and strange weeds have sprouted in the Jewish garden. Arrogant and ignorant voices from outsiders who have the gall to try to identify and define Jews, Judaism, Torah, and Eretz Yisrael, through the twisted prism of non-Jewish thinking. Sometimes these outsiders (supposed friends!) resort to antisemitic tropes when their foreign wares are refused by sensible Jews.
The so-called Jewish “indigenous rights” movement includes a particularly perplexing Jewish personality. If one is honest, it often consists of an insecure Jew who needs to defend the Jewish presence in Israel through the prism of a liberal construct; namely, the fictitious notion of indigenous rights. This Jew can be found on the left and on the right. The right-winger often gravitates to this sociological fiction to assuage his guilt for being too “right-wing”, and thus stumbles upon another non-Torah based (I would argue anti-Torah) theory to give him some liberal street credibility. The liberal Jew needs to remain liberal minded and the notion of biblical conquest of Torah makes him as uncomfortable as many of his liberal counterparts. As they see it, if only liberals could see that the struggle for Jews in Eretz Yisroel is a “woke” one (to use the irritating slang term), they think the goyim will love us, and that other liberal Jews will support the cause.
It is ironic that so many Jews who scream about being indigenous have little knowledge of the fact that Native People’s never spoke this way. All this contrived magical thinking is based upon western liberalism. Indigenous rights are a soft-science created by sociologists in the aftermath of past European colonial conquests. A concept created by a UN sociologist (the irony!) does not become true by virtue of a UN letterhead. Furthermore, the application of indigenous rights based upon the “accepted UN studies” is arbitrarily defined across the divide by her many advocates who bicker and fight with each other. This includes those who advocate for Jewish indigeneity. Some are notorious for changing positions every few years as new arguments come to light exposing the foolishness of their ideology. I have opined on this many more times than I would like in such articles as We Are NOT Indigenous, and We Are Still NOT Indigenous.
The responses were typical. Generally, they were comprised of childish name-calling and a refusal to address the points I raised, or to make a rational argument for their magical thinking. Very unimpressive, and I believe that most rational people don’t really give credence to the topic. At the end of the day, most religious/traditional will agree with the sentiments of a non-Jewish advocate for Israel who noted that the indigenous rights argument brings ridicule upon the Jewish people because it opens the door for attacks on the Torah’s biblical account.
As I noted, I’ve written about this issue from different angles, and my problem with it is that it is a false doctrine. They cannot even agree with one another, how are they going to convince people who truly believe and understand Torah.
Cultural Genesis? What is That?
The following article focuses on a previously unaddressed issue, which only a committed Jew can appreciate. This speaks of one oft mentioned concept relating to indigeneity, which defines the geographic location of indigeneity as a place where a people had their “cultural genesis”. Did we have our cultural genesis in Eretz Yisrael? To understand this, one must appreciate the true values and priorities of the Jewish Nation. What is our crowning glory? And where was it given to us? This is an obvious question to anyone with a modicum of Jewish education. That a non-Jew might miss this point is understandable since he has no reference for understanding Yahadut, but the real tragedy is that too many Jews will err on this point.
Torah is our crowning glory.
From a Torah perspective, NOTHING on earth is more important than Torah. NOTHING! Not our beloved land, ancient and G-d given as it is, not our destroyed Temples, which we cry for on Tisha Baav, not even the restoration of the Kingdom of David, which are all great import. They are all critical, all essential, all necessary for the articulation of the best expression of Judaism. Without Eretz Yisrael, we cannot fully actualize ourselves as a people. Yet they are all 1b, 1c,1d,1e, and 1f… Only the Torah is 1A. Every Torah Jew understand this. Land worship, like mindless state-worship is a form of idolatry. The land depends on Torah. Not the other way around.
Our crowning moment in Jewish history was the Revelation of G-d at Mount Sinai and our receiving the Torah. This is our true cultural genesis. The greatest Talmud arguably arose in Babylon. Judaism and Torah flourished with the geniuses of Sephardic Jewry, and with the migration to Europe with the legacy of the greatest of minds including the Tosaphists. From the gaonim, rishonim, and acharonim, so much of our most rich and sophisticated Torah originated by those who lived outside Israel. Eretz Yisrael is ideal. Yet many of the greatest works of post-Talmud Torah arose outside the land. The Mishneh Torah comes to mind immediately. But if one had to choose Eretz Yisrael or Torah, the choice is obvious to any educated Jew. Without Torah there is no Eretz Yisrael. Not figuratively and not literally.
The only thing that ties and binds the Jewish people, is the Divine Torah given to us by The Almighty. Without Torah we disappear. With Torah we survive anything and everything, including 2000 years of hell in the diaspora. Torah is 1a) for the Jewish Nation. Eretz Yisrael is 1b). Critical and ideal for our full actualization and ultimate redemption, but if we had to choose between Eretz Yisrael or Torah, no Jew who understands anything about us would choose Israel over Torah. Without Torah we cannot control or remain in Eretz Yisrael. With Torah, we survive anything under the sun in Israel, including a united front from the armies of the world.
For an interesting analysis on the greatness of the “Crown of Torah” and its superiority over other crowns, see Harav Baruch Gigi’s (Yeshiva Har Etzion) Shiur #36: Torah Study (10) The Crown of Torah.
Torah over territory. This doesn’t undermine our need to fight and bleed for Eretz Yisrael, the halachic prohibition to give up land, and the need to transfer all hostile non-Jewish populations who don’t accept the halachic requirements for remaining in the land. But a people without Torah will become vomited from the land. A people with Torah will be worthy to conquer and settle it and bring the true Mashiach in our times. As we see with the never-ending horrors committed by Arabs against Jews, without Torah governance we scramble about in the dark.
We have nothing in common with any other people on earth. The way of man is to conquer. In America, the Lakota Indians complain about how the US conquered their supposed sacred Black Hills. But what about the Lakota conquest and theft of the Black Hills from the Cheyenne and others? Liberals never speak of this, the same way they defend the barbarous head-hunting, head-lopping Maori in New Zealand, and explain away their butchery and near extermination of the pacifistic Mariori. Infanticide is glossed over on the altar of politically correct images of acorn collectors. Indigenous rights advocacy is disinterested in honest history and equal standards. It is a tale of “oppression Olympics”, and demonizing others while whitewashing and evading their own sins.
Don’t get me wrong. Terrible things were done to Native-Americans. Real crimes and sins. Not the imagined genocide (it never happened) or willful government infecting with small pox (not one shred of historical evidence shows this to be the case). Equally true was that Native Americans did terrible things from time immemorial to other Indians (including the complete extermination of less powerful tribes), and upon Europeans when they entered the land.
Fortunately, Jews have no such problems. Our conquests in the Torah were Divine. (I could care less that other people claim likewise. My Torah is the Truth, their fictions are of no relevance to me.) The Torah granted us Jews permission and obligated us to conquer and destroy the “indigenous” inhabitants of the Land. The absence of a Divine call would have rendered our actions as immoral, and similar to other violent conquests throughout history. G-d forbid.
To truly understand the Chosen people, one can only see the eternal nature of our people through our collective refusal to abandon Torah, though much of the nation has assimilated throughout history. The martyrdom from the time of Chanukah, the Romans, and through the bloody crusades and pogroms both Christian and Islamic, show our refusal to kneel before foreign thought. A part of the nation has always refused to convert, assimilate, and reform the faith, often at the cost of one’s head. This is the strength of Torah.
The greatest Jewish leader is Moshe Rabbenu, not King David. Again, King David might be 1b. We yearn for the return of the Davidic Monarchy. But Moshe was the ultimate leader because his leadership was based on his having the greatest knowledge of Torah and Hashem. He was the greatest prophet.
Moshe is True, and his Torah is True. Every honest Jew will bleed for this truth. Only one who understands this can truly appreciate the import of Eretz Yisrael as our Divine territory. Such a person is fit to fight and die for Eretz Yisrael. Yet there are conditions. The land is ours only insofar as we adhere to Torah. Otherwise, we reap the consequences, which include death, terror, and dispersal. Choose Torah and we can conquer the Mount of Zion, and every square inch in Israel. Choose territory over Torah and we will have neither.