Sunday, December 13, 2009

Avraham Walking the Land

By: Reb Avi Lebowitz

The Gemora cites a braisa: If one walked in it through the length and width of it, he has acquired the place where he walked; these are the words of Rabbi Eliezer. The Chachamim, however, say: Walking accomplishes nothing unless he makes a propriety act.

Rabbi Elozar said: What is Rabbi Eliezer’s reason? It is written: (Hashem said to Avraham:) Arise walk through the land in the length and width of it, for I will give it to you. [Evidently, he acquired it through walking.] The Chachamim, however, hold that there, Hashem told him that (since He loved him), that his children will be able to conquer the land with ease (for they will not be accused of being thieves).

There are several explanations in the Chachamim’s opinion.

1. Rashbam - It is a way to demonstrate to the Satan that Eretz Yisroel belonged to Avraham’s descendants and they cannot be accused of stealing it.

2. Ramban in Lech Lecha explains that it was a ma'aseh avos siman l'banim. It was symbolic of the Jews taking over Eretz Yisroel in the future.

3. Rambam and Kesef Mishneh in hilchos Bikkurim write that Avraham became the av hamon goyim - - “the father of all nations,” which means that all the nations of the world could theoretically have an equal claim on Eretz Yisroel. Based on this, we can explain that Avraham had to display ownership over it prior to his name being changed to Avraham.

4. It was a psychological acquisition. The purpose was to make the children of Avraham feel that Eretz Yisroel was theirs, so that they would be moser nefesh to conquer it in the future.