Israel Forever

For the week ending 19 September 2009 / 29 Elul 5769

Who is the Owner?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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On the threshold of a new year, one in which we hope to see an end to the many threats to the security of Israel, it is worthwhile reflecting on a lesson taught by Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, the rav of the Ramat Elchanan community in Bnei Brak.

When Jaffa was captured by Israeli forces in the War of Independence most of its Arab residents fled this city adjoining Tel Aviv. Among the many Jews who rushed to see Jaffa for the first time was Rabbi Zilberstein. As he passed one of the houses vacated by the Arabs he heard shouting which alerted him to the possibility that there was some danger to life. What he discovered upon entering the large apartment from where the shouting came was two Jews vehemently arguing over who had a right to this dwelling. One claimed that as one of the soldiers who captured the city he was entitled to gain the deserted home, while the other claimed that it originally belonged to a relative of his and was rightfully his.

Nothing could be done to settle the argument, which threatened to erupt into violence, until another Jew arrived with documents proving that he had title to the home and was giving it to his relative. The fellow claiming a right to what he thought was abandoned Arab property, based on his participation in capturing the city, meekly departed, and silence reigned.

This, concluded Rabbi Zilberstein, is what is going to be the conclusion of the Israel-Arab conflict. G-d, Who is the real owner of the land, will declare "I am the owner of the land" and all our enemies will shamefacedly depart, granting peace to Israel forever.

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