We are working on appreciating kedushas Eretz Yisroel in a deep, fundamental way, to somehow create a tikun of the sin of the lack of recognition, and worse, exhibited by the meraglim (“…and they despised the desirable Land…” Tehillim 106:24). We saw the Ramban in Vayikra (18:25) discuss how Hakadosh Baruch Hu directs and is mashgiach over Bnei Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel in a close, intimate, direct, way, while His control over the other nations of the world, and in other lands, is through the medium of various sorts of ministering angels. We asked what this means; and, no less, what it means to us in our lives in a practical, relevant, way. And what exactly is the virtue in whatever it means?
Let us take the phrase “left up to chance” – or, olom k’minhago noheg, or teva. The Ramban in Shmos (13:16) contends that it is absolutely wrong to think that Hashem left the governing of this world to a system of nature (even if you admit that He created the system). The very fact that miracles exist, and nature is overruled, forces us to come to a realization of Hashem’s hidden miracles – which means the daily governing of the world being empowered and enabled by Hashem.
We suggest that this does not mean there is no system of nature at all. Certainly Hashem created the rules which have things and events occur (in general) in a certain set way and a certain set pattern, and that this is always actively empowered by Hashem’s will that things and events occur in that way and in that pattern. And, as the Ramban points out there in Shmos, in case we run the risk of forgetting that Hashem is empowering all, every once in a while things break out of that pattern, and out of that sytem, and a miracle occurs.
However, certainly when under the influence of the “normal” system which is the will of Hashem, it is much more likely that the individuals are left to the vicissitudes of that system – it takes a more righteous individual to stand out and be saved from a general gezeirah. Chazal teach us: “Once the angel of death is given permission to kill, it does not distinguish between good (people) and bad (people)” – it would take an exemplary individual to be saved from the fate of his community. The Gemara itself speaks of a makas medinah – a national plague, and explains how that creates practical, real, ramifications in halachah. (If a person rents a field, and it got ruined due to a plague or it drying out, he cannot deduct from the agreed rental, even though this is now not the field he thought it would be. Rather, halachah views this as his own problem. If however it was a makas medinah, something affecting most fields in that locale – he can deduct!)
This shows that the Torah itself recognizes this concept of a gezeirah klali not directed “against” a particular person!
(Note: Do not extrapolate to any case you may know of – every case is different and there are tens, if not hundreds, of possible permutations which can affect the halachah.)
This would seem to mean that even if the individual as an individual does not “deserve” to have this happen to him or her, it will happen, by dint of his belonging to the general grouping which did deserve it. If there is a gezeirah that a ship will sink, an individual who might not have died otherwise might not be righteous enough to escape the gezeirah of the ship; or he may be, but he is not righteous enough for his possessions to be saved… and so on and so forth.
The Ramban in Iyov discusses this. “…to the extent that the completely pious individual clings to Hashem… to that degree he will be guarded from occurrences ,and even to the happenings of nature. According to his closeness to G-d, he will be protected with the highest levels of protection.”
So goes the tzaddik.
The Chovos Halevavos, in the beginning of Sha’ar Habitachon, writes the explanation of the posuk, “Blessed is the one who trusts in Hashem, Hashem will be his trust” (Yirmiyahu 17:7). Chovos Halevavos takes this to mean that the more one trusts and relies on Hashem, the more Hashem requites and fulfills the trust. Whereas if one trusts in other powers, in other things, Hashem removes that person from being under His Divine providence, and allows him to be that much more under the dictates of nature. Thus, people who trust in their wealth suffer the uncertainties of having wealth. In their intelligence, ditto. In democracy – well, last time I looked at the USA… A primary benefit of trusting in Hashem, says the Chovos Halevavos, is that Hashem responds in kind.
And the explanation of this is the same as the Ramban in Iyov – you actually can make choices which place you on a different level of hashgachah pratis, as explained above.
So far, we have had two manifestations of a life with a heightened hashgachah pratis – the tzaddik and the ba‘al bitachon.
And Eretz Yisroel. That is what the Ramban is saying in Vayikra – the Jewish Nation, as a Nation, is under this intense direct guidance from Hashem, Who directly governs and operates the events affecting them. Where? Only in Eretz Yisroel, says the Ramban, the place in the world that Hashem has placed under that direct, intense, hashgachah pratis. And being under intense, specific hashgachah pratis obligates a person to enter into a closer, deeper, more inherent relationship with Hashem. That is why, Ramban writes in Vayikra, the true place for the fulfillment of all the commandments is for those who reside in Eretz Yisroel – even though the obligation of mitzvos which are personal obligations are technically not dependent on Eretz Yisroel – but there is an element lacking in their fulfillment when one is Chutz La’aretz, and their fulfillment there is considered “practice” for their “real” fulfillment in Eretz Yisroel.
And thus it is also obligatory for Jews to actually settle in, conquer, and take control of Eretz Yisroel, for in doing so we have conquered the Land; in the language of the Ramban, “Before Hashem,” on behalf of Hashem, wresting it out of the control of the intermediaries that He has arranged for Chutz La’aretz and for non-Jews, and putting it under the intense hashgachah pratis which is its due.
How much then does all this obligate us to be more exacting, more careful, more conscientious in doing mitzvos ,in devoting time to learning Torah, in tzni’us matters – when we live here, the Land where Hashem has decreed the closest bond, the most direct relationship, with His people.