This week’s parsha also states that Israel cannot tolerate sin in her land. If there is moral depravity in the world, the punishment for it is greater in the Land of Israel. Israel contains the highest level of kedusha, holiness, so to, it is the most sensitive to any immoral acts committed on her land. For example, a sin committed in another land is more tolerable than it would be if committed in Israel.
Before the Jews lived in Israel, the Canaanites inhabited the land. You might be asking, wait, weren’t they evil? Eventually, the evil cities in Israel were destroyed: S’dom, Amora, Adma, and Tzvoyim. It is important to note that during this same time period there were other equally evil cities in the world that were not destroyed. From this we can see how the land of Israel upholds an extra level of holiness and cannot contain sinners; thereby, Hashem destroyed those cities.
Why did Hashem let the inhabitants of Canaan live in the holiest land? Although they were considered the lewdest of the nations, and they did not have high levels of kedusha that would merit their stay in Israel, Hashem allowed them to cultivate and harvest the land for the Jews. Additionally, they built houses and established the land so the Jews of future generations could live there. When Bnai Israel entered the land, they entered a land full of trees that produced the most amazing fruits. Moreover, the Canaanites were rewarded to live in Canaan for giving honor to Avraham and for selling him a burial place for his family. However, as years passed on, and the sins of the Canaanites became too great, Hashem had them destroyed.
Moreover, Hashem warns the Jewish people many times, telling us the safeguards we must keep in order to maintain the proper levels of kedusha in Eretz Yisrael- the Land of Israel. Hashem has no tolerance for lewdness and will expel us once again if we do not perfect our ways.
Hashem warns the Jewish people,
“Do not think that your residence in the land is guaranteed. Do not defile yourselves with the abominations with which previous inhabitants defiled Eretz Israel, so that the land will not vomit you out as it has vomited out the nations before you” (Vayikra 18:28).
When Bnai Israel became influenced by the surrounding cultures and started to assimilate, Hashem fulfilled his promise and Bnai Israel was exiled. This should be a lesson for all of us, especially those who are lucky enough to live in the Land. We must all recognize how holy the land of Israel is. It is our responsibility to continuously hold ourselves to the highest standards of dignity and Torah study. Moreover, even if we are not fortunate enough to live in the holy land of Israel, we should support and put our efforts to contribute as much as we can to those who devote their lives to Torah scholarship. Those few people who serve Hashem with such dedication are the spiritual healers that retain the Divine holiness in the land.