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News and Notes

This week, the yeshiva held its annual Purim celebrations. After the conclusion of Taanit Esther on Wednesday evening, Rav Wolicki read the Megillah, and everyone then had a joyous and delicious breakfast in the chadar ochel.

Later that evening, outside our "West Gardens" building, the yeshiva band put on a terrific show that had students and rabbeim alike dancing into the night.

This was followed by the presentation of Purim shpiels by both the students and the faculty. There were many different presentations, including a live "newscast" with Rav Kahn and Rav Krohn, two shana alef films, a shana bet film, a film by the madrichim, and a rabbeim's shpiel starring Rav Kahn, Rav Krohn, Rav Wolicki, Rav Arram, Rav Lichtman, and Rav Herczeg. (Click here to see the rabbeim's shpiel - it will probably not work on a phone, so use your computer to see it.)

16 Adar 5775
Rabbi

The Merit of the Patriarchs
By Rabbi Moshe Lichtman

After B’nei Yisrael made the Golden Calf, HaShem said to Moshe, I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now, let Me alone, and My anger shall burn against them and I will consume them; and I will make you into a great nation (32:9-10). Moshe, however, did not like this idea.
He proceeded to beseech God to “change His mind” and forgive the Jews.
First, Moshe “reminded” HaShem that He took this nation out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand (32:11). Then he asked, Why should Egypt say:
“He took them out with evil intent- to annihilate them.”? (32:12). And finally, Moshe invoked the merit of the Patriarchs: Remember Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yisrael, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your Own Self, saying to them, “I will increase your seed like the stars of heaven, and this entire Land of which I spoke, I will give to your seed, and they shall inherit it forever” (32:13).

The commentators explain how each of these points was an attempt to “convince” HaShem not to destroy the Jews and re-create the nation from Moshe. Regarding the last point, the Netziv comments:

And they shall inherit it forever: [The Land shall be given to their descendants] as an inheritance, implying that it is eternal. Even when the Jews are exiled from the Land, it is still theirs and they always anticipate returning to it, Therefore, this constitutes an argument [on Moshe’s part] to annul [God’s] decree of annihilation. For [God promised that] this inheritance, which naturally belongs to the twelve tribes, will never be abrogated. [Moshe, in effect, was saying], “What will it help if only I and my descendants inherit Eretz Yisrael? This is not the inheritance for which the Land was created.” (Ha’amek Davar)

In other words, Moshe said to HaShem, “You promised that the Land will always belong to the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov.
Therefore, if You destroy them, You will be breaking Your promise, even if You make me into a great nation.”

In a pamphlet entitled Eretz Chemdah, Rav Moshe Tzuriel adds that this coincides with a halachic determination attributed to R. Nachshon Gaon (and also quoted by the Ramban, Bava Batra 44b): Every Jew in the world has four cubits of land in Eretz Yisrael, because of his inheritance from the twelve tribes.

Thus, when Moshe wanted to save the Jewish people after the Sin of the Calf, he invoked the merit of the Patriarchs and “reminded” God of His covenant with them regarding the Land of Israel. A little over a year later, when the Jews committed the Sin of the Spies, slandering and rejecting the Promised Land, Moshe tried once again to save them from destruction. This time, however, he did not mention the Patriarchs or the Land of Israel at all. Why not? The Ramban explains:

The Land was given to the Patriarchs; and their descendants were to inherit it from them. [But now], the descendants rebelled against their forefathers and rejected the gift which the Patriarchs greatly desired. Therefore, how could Moshe say, Remember Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov, Your servants, to whom You swore… “This entire Land…I will give to your descendants,” when the people were saying, “We do not want this gift”? (Ramban, BeMidbar 14:17)

R. Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal derives an important lesson from this
explanation: “HaShem will remember the merit of the Patriarchs only if we emulate them by desiring and cherishing the Land. If we cherish, desire, and crave the Land as they did, HaShem will remember their merit for our sake.
The more we cherish our Holy Land, the more we will receive the merit of the Patriarchs” (Eim HaBanim Semeichah, p. 280).

Nowadays, we could use a little help from our forefathers. So let us take some advice from the Netziv, the Ramban, and Rav Teichtal: Let us ascend to Zion and take hold of our eternal portion in Eretz Yisrael, thus showing HaShem how much we truly desire His special Land.

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