"I shall scatter you amongst the nations, and disperse you amidst the
lands; and I shall cleanse you of your impurities." (Ezekiel 22:15)
The dispersion of Israel among the nations has a purpose: it forces them to come to their senses and return to Hashem.
When we study the Prophets, we do so with an eye to discovering parallels to the problems of our own day. And in this context it is noteworthy that in Ezekiel's time, there was a strong "nationalist" sentiment among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. "Son of man! Your brothers [in exile] ... to whom the dwellers of Jerusalem have said, 'Move away from Hashem! --for it is ours; the land has been given to us as an inheritance.' Therefore say ... though I have sent them to far-off nations and dispersed them amidst the lands, yet I shall be a small Sanctuary for them in the places to whence they came." (ibid, 11:15-16)
The people who remained in Jerusalem taunted the exiles: the land is ours! And you who no longer dwell in the land--you have no place in the nation of Israel.
But in truth, an allegiance to the land which isn't bound together with a devotion to Hashem's teachings is meaningless. The residents of Jerusalem had long since ceased to be faithful to Hashem's commands, and so their feelings toward the Land did not impress Him. Rather, Hashem says, I Myself will go along with the exiled people into whichever lands they are driven.
Certainly it is a great privilege to live in the land of Israel. But that must go hand in hand with a wholehearted allegiance to Hashem's Torah. And when that essential element is lost, it may become necessary for Hashem to send His people away from the Land, in order that they may come to appreciate their Land for what it really is.
Copyright (c) 1997 by Rabbi Levi Langer
Courtesy of www.JewishAmerica.com