The Promise of the Land: By Rabbi Mordechai Rabinovitz
It is generally assumed that the inalienable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel
is based on the promise by Hashem to our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Since
the Talmud (Berachos 7a) states that divine promises for good things are not rescinded by
Hashem even if the recipient is no longer deserving, this promise would seem irrevocable.
However, Rambam (Introduction to Mishnah Commentary) qualifies that rule and asserts
that a divine promise for the good is not irreversible if it was communicated to a prophet for
the prophecy as a personal message from G-d, without a command to convey it to others.
When a promise is communicated to a prophet for his ears alone, then even a good promise
can be rescinded.
But in that case, a serious problem arises. Because elsewhere, Rambam (Guide 2:39) states
that the very first prophet in history to receive a command to communicate his prophecy
to others was Moses. Now, if the promise to the forefathers is what gives us a right to the
Holy Land, and if the forefathers received that promise in a personal prophecy, not for
communication to others, how can we (according to Rambam) be certain that the promise
will be fulfilled?
The answer would seem to be given in this week’s reading (Shemos 6:6-9): Hashem spoke to
Moshe and said to him: “Say to the people of Israel, I will take you out… and I will bring you
to the land that I promised to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a
heritage, I am Hashem”.
As can clearly be seen, Hashem here commands Moshe to communicate the promise to the
people of Israel. Accordingly, this promise cannot be rescinded even if we are not always so
Today, we are witnessing the fulfillment of that promise by Hashem, and are certain that
likewise all other promises of good to our people will be fulfilled, speedily in our days!