Spread Out

The Revelation and its Meaning

Our forefather Jacob merited seeing one of the greatest and most awesome revelations ever revealed to man. He saw the ladder standing on the ground, its top reaching up toward heaven, and God’s angels going up and down on it. Suddenly, beyond the ladder and angels – “He saw God standing over him! [God] said, “I am God, Lord of Abraham your father, and Lord of Isaac.” In suspense, we are waiting to hear, what important message will God tell Jacob at this extraordinary moment? Will He speak about the importance of learning Torah diligently or perhaps about keeping Shabbat? Maybe He will speak about the love of humanity, or possibly give a philosophical explanation of His unity? Maybe He will urge Jacob to distance himself from evil people, or to be careful about keeping kosher, or about modesty, or about honoring the dead?

However, God says to Jacob: “I will give to you and your descendants the land upon which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth. You shall spread out to the west, to the east, to the north, and to the south. All the families on earth will be blessed through you and your descendants.” The Land of Israel is so important, to such an extent that it is the subject of this supreme and awesome revelation! And, as usual, together with the mitzvah of settling the land comes the blessing of multiplying and being fruitful.

And let’s not be fooled into thinking that the issue of the Land of Israel affects only the Jewish nation. The blessing of all the nations is dependent on the Jewish nation’s settling of the Land of Israel, as the verse says: “All the families on earth will be blessed through you and your descendants.”

Why Specifically Judea and Samaria

Question: Jews are needed throughout the land. If we encourage people to settle in Judea or Samaria, there won’t be enough people to live in the Negev and Galilee?

Answer: By way of the mitzvah of settling the land there will be more Jews, and thus we will be able to populate the entire country. This is exactly what we have witnessed – that families who went to settle Judea and Samaria had more children than their brother’s, sister’s, and friends who remained in the Tel Aviv area and similar places. The greater effort the settler’s made to populate the holier and nationally significant areas, the more blessing they received.

In addition to the ten’s of thousands of children who were born in the merit of the settlements, it also had an influence on their families and friends who remained in the cities. They said to themselves: If our sibling who lives in Samaria has eight children, we can have four children instead of three, or five instead of four. And, seeing as they raised larger families, their neighbors were also influenced to a certain degree, as were their co-workers. Without sufficient data, I am cautious not to estimate just how many children have been added to the Jewish nation in the merit of the settlements, but, undoubtedly, it has had a significant affect on our demographic status.

A Short Chat

Once, I was invited to visit the beloved and holy community of Givat Shmuel (greater Tel Aviv area) for Shabbat. In the synagogue, during the singing of ‘Adon Olam’, someone from behind tapped me on the shoulder, and with a half-smile said: “Rabbi Melamed, in one apartment building here in Givat Shmuel, you can fit the entire community of Har Bracha.” He probably wanted to commend my coming there, for indeed, the majority of the population lives in the greater Tel Aviv area and not in Har Bracha. However, feeling a pang in my heart, I immediately rebuffed him: “That’s not correct. It’s impossible to fit them all into one building.”

“Why is it impossible? How many families are there already in Har Bracha?”

“Two hundred and fifty families,” I answered.

“Okay, so we need a couple of buildings” he replied with friendly sarcasm.

I contemplated the matter, making some calculations, and I was surprised by the results. Indeed, taking into consideration the number of adults above the age of 18, there are approximately 25 times more people living in Givat Shmuel than there are in Har Bracha (15,000 versus 600). However, in the younger age groups, there are barely 5 times as many children in Givat Shmuel than in Har Bracha. In the past year, with God’s help, nearly 100 children were born in Har Bracha.

May it be His will that all the families in Givat Shmuel, Har Bracha, and all the holy communities merit raising sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughter’s, great-grandson’s and great-granddaughter’s, engaged in Torah and mitzvoth.

Holy Place

There are some intellectuals for whom the struggle to settle the Land of Israel troubles their conscience. If there were no Arabs surrounding us, they would surely support the settlements. But in the present situation, when the settlements are causing tension and international condemnation, the idea has dawned upon them that, perhaps, land isn’t really that important. However, through the awesome revelation, our forefather Jacob understands that holiness is revealed specifically in this place. “Jacob awoke from his sleep.”God is truly in this place,” he said, “but I did not know it.” He was frightened. “How awe-inspiring this place is!” he exclaimed. “It must be God’s temple. It is the gate to heaven!”