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The deed for the land

The deed for the land

insights on Parshat Vayishlach

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The deed for the land 

Rabbi Zushe Greenberg
Special to the CJN (11/15/2013

In 1936, there was a mass Arab riot throughout the land of Israel. The British government, which at that time controlled the land, sent a committee to hear out representatives of both sides and try to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict.

The chairman of the committee was Lord Peel and one of the witnesses to testify before the Peel Commission was the chairman of the Jewish Agency: David Ben-Gurion.

Ben-Gurion spoke on the right of the Jews to the and of Israel. When he finished, Lord Peel turned to him and asked, “Mr. Ben-Gurion: Where were you born?” “In Plonsk, Poland,” he answered.

Lord Peel continued, “If a man lives in a house for many years and suddenly, someone else appears and claims ownership of the house, international law dictates that the burden of proof rests upon the claimant, not the current occupant. Mr. Ben-Gurion: Do you have a deed or contract of sale that gives you the right to take the place of the native Arabs who have lived here for generations?”

On the witness stand was a copy of the Bible, upon which the witnesses had sworn. Ben-Gurion suddenly picked up the Bible in his hand and declared, “This is our kushan!” (A kushan is a certificate of registration.)

In the book of Genesis that we are currently reading in the synagogues on Shabbat, G‑d promises the land of Canaan to the children of Abraham; Isaac and Jacob. In addition to this promise, the Torah describes three actual times where our forefathers insisted on buying land with the currency of the time.

The first lot is the Cave of Machpela in the city of Hebron that Abraham purchased for 400 shekels as a burial place for his wife, Sarah.

The second one we read in this week’s parasha, Vayishlach. In the city of Shechem (Nablus), Jacob bought a parcel of land from the local citizens for 100 coins (kesitas).

King David acquired the third, and most important, spot many years later when he purchased the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in order to build the Holy Temple on that site.

Often, when the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory, met with Israeli diplomats, he used to point out that the majority of the world accepts and believes in our Bible. Therefore, when they stand in front of non-Jews and need to defend the right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, they shouldn’t be timid. They should proudly explain that our right to the land of Israel stems from the Bible.

Rabbi Zushe Greenberg is the spiritual leader of Solon Chabad.

 

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