“…and you shall go to the place which Hashem your G-d will choose…that I have come to the land that Hashem swore to our forefathers to give us.” (Devarim 26:2-3)

We are all aware that in the past there was an ongoing political tug-of-war between Israel and America as to where the USA embassy should be located: Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. It is clear to all of us that no one was considering which location was more convenient for the citizens of America who reside in Israel. The central question is the legitimacy of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital. If America considers it the capital, then they have, so to speak, legitimized the claim that Jerusalem is part of the state of Israel. This is of prominent importance to Israel, for America’s legitimizing the actions of Israel makes Israel feel more secure with their position in the world.

There is a question asked by the Ben Ish Chai regarding bringing the bikurim – the first fruits – to the Holy Temple in Jersusalem. First, the verse discuses bringing the fruits to the place that Hashem will show them (meaning the Holy Temple in Jerusalem), and then it says “to the land which I have given you”. The order here seems to be reversed. Why is the “place” specified before the “country”?

I would answer that Hashem begins by is speaking about the loftier ideal of the Holy Temple, and then he speaks about the secondary holiness of the Land of Israel. However, the Ben Ish Chai explains differently based on the previous thought. Chazal tell us many times that Hashem despises theft. As this is the case, Hashem would not establish his “headquarters” on property that was illicitly acquired. The first Rashi in Bereishis tells us that the Torah really should have started off in Parshas Bo, but Hashem felt that it is necessary to make clear Klal Yisrael’s entitlement to the Land of Israel. Therefore, Hashem – who despises theft – established his “home” in the Holy Temple in Jersusalem, sending a clear message to all of humanity that Klal Yisrael has the true ownership of the Land of Israel.

From this vantage point, when we come to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and emphasize our right to this land, we also must show to the world that we have fulfilled our obligation by fulfilling the commandments that are dependent upon the land. It seems obvious to me (and has also been said by many great Rabbis throughout the generations), that which is clear in the tochacha – that if we comply with the commandments regarding the Land of Israel, our claim to the land will be enhanced.

May we merit to shore up our claim by performing the commandments properly. For example, did you ever think that when you take terumos and maasros off of the fruit that you buy, you are strengthening our ownership of Eretz Yisrael? May Hashem bless us with His manifestation in the rebuilt Jerusalem, may it be soon!