Didn't G-d give the land of Israel to the Jews?

06/03/07

Dear Rabbi,

Doesn't the land of Israel belong to the Jews as was given in B'resheet and and Sh'mot. In Yechezk'el says that G-d will gather his people fron exile?? I'm confused.

Robert Dorell

Dear Mr. Dorell,

Yes, the land of Israel was given to the Jews. They lived there in ancient times for 1270 years, with a brief interval of 70 years of exile between the first and second Temples. But since the destruction of the second Temple in the year 69, the Jews have been in an exile the duration of which was never revealed. Jews believe that at any time G-d might send the messiah and bring us back to our land. But until then we are to wait and take no action on our own to retake the land from its non-Jewish inhabitants. Prayer and good deeds are our only methods of hastening the redemption. Yechezkel foretold that G-d will gather us from exile, but not that we will gather ourselves from exile.

You may ask: G-d often works not through open miracles, but through the screen of nature and world events. How then are we to know whether Zionism is actually part of G-ds plan to redeem the Jews? The answer is that we are waiting for the messiah, and Zionism does not claim to have a messiah. Furthermore, even if it did make such a claim, there are certain criteria by which we identify the messiah, and these would be impossible to fabricate. One of the criteria is that the messiah will bring the entire Jewish people to follow the laws of the Torah. When a messiah comes along and does that, we will be ready to follow him to the next step.