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THIS LAND IS OUR LAND

by Rabbi Norman Schloss    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

One question that is always on our minds is: "Why is there so much animosity from the Arab people towards the Jews?" A startling observation was once made by a leading Torah scholar based upon the genealogies of Esau and Yishmael found in the Torah.

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One question that is always on our minds is: "Why is there so much animosity from the Arab people towards the Jews?" A startling observation was once made by a leading Torah scholar based upon the genealogies of Esau and Yishmael found in the Torah.

Esau's descendants, in their genealogy found at the end of this week's Torah portion, are referred to by the term "aluf" (Genesis 36). This is a clear distinction from the descendants of Yishmael who, at the end of Parshat Chayei Sarah, are referred to by the term "nasi" (ibid. 25:16). The Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin explains that an aluf connotes royalty and in our terms would be translated as a prince. A nasi on the other hand would be more of a chieftain - a leader of people, but with no royalty attached. The distinction between the two would be regarding land rights. The children of Esau were given "an inheritance of Mount Seir" (Deuteronomy 2:5). The children of Yishmael do not inherit, as Sarah commands Abraham: "Send out this maid servant (Hagar) and her son (Yishmael), for the son of this maid servant will not inherit with my son, with Isaac" (Genesis 21:10). We see from this that the children of Esau have a land claim of their own, while Yishmael does not.

This point was clarified by Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner, the late dean of the Yeshiva Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, whose plane was hijacked by Arab/Yishmael terrorists in 1971. From his trying experience as a hostage, Rabbi Hutner was able to delve into the basic instinct of the Arabs and their relationship to the Jewish people and the land of Israel in particular. The descendants of Esau put forth no claim against the Jewish right to Israel, for they have their own land. They have hatred and animosity towards the Jewish people for other reasons, but the land of Israel is not the prime cause. The Arabs, however, are different. Since they were never given a land inheritance, that is the one thing which they crave the most. They seek to take away the claim that the Jewish people have to the land of Israel, a promise of land given to Abraham their ancestor, but not passed on to them.

May we merit the coming of the Mashiach (Messiah) hastily in our time when all of Mankind - descendants of Abraham, Yishmael, and Esau alike - will recognize the oneness of Hashem and live together in harmony and peace.

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Rabbi Norman Schloss Schloss writes from Atlanta.

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