Parashat D'varim

Belonging To the Land

An obligation of responsibility for this generation and the next.

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Jews are meant to be a light unto nations: by living in an exemplary way, by fully and proudly manifesting our mission in our national homeland, by conducting ourselves in ways that respect both the eternal laws revealed in Torah, and the natural laws on which life on earth depends. To be ecologically responsible, to be spiritually responsible, and to be politically responsible: these are all really the same thing at root. The Torah teaches us again and again how we must treat trees, plants, animals, and individual people. In D'varim, we learn how we must relate as a nation to our land.

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Matthew Mausner is a historian, teacher, and writer in Jerusalem. He is currently completing a thesis on tribal identity and belonging at Israel's Bar Ilan University.