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Stranger and Dwellers in the Land

By Avi Lazerson

In the Torah portion of BeHar, G-d gives us the laws of Sh'meta and Yuval, that every seven years we must not work the land and that the fiftieth year should be also a year of rest and jubilee. In verse 25:23, we are told that the land is not to be sold (it will always return to the original owner). Why? Because although we are considered the original owner, the land really belongs to G-d and we do not have the power to sell it totally and completely. We are then told that we are dwellers and strangers in the land.

Now if we are dwellers, meaning one who owns land and lives upon it, we can not be strangers, someone who is just passing through or visiting. Either we are dwellers or we are strangers. Why does the Torah refer to us as both dwellers and strangers?

The land of Israel is different from all other lands. All other lands have no holiness These lands can be bought and sold or kept and inherited by the children. The land of Israel is different, it is a land that is 'administered' directly by G-d and worked by his 'children', the Children of Israel.

When the Jews act properly and do G-d's mitzvot, then G-d, like a father who has his children work his lands, is happy and considers His children as the proper dwellers on His land. But when the children do not act properly between one and the other, do not recognize that G-d, their father in heaven, is the real owner of the land and pays attention to it and cares for what is happening in His land, then He treats us as strangers.

It will be interesting to see what will be when the righteous Messiah will return all the Jews to Israel. Will we all be returned to our ancient ancestor's lands?

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom!

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