In Moses’ address to Israel which opens the book of Devarim, he recounts God’s promise to the Children of Israel: “Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.” The rabbis teach that God’s pledge is not one sided; Bnei Yisrael play a significant role in shaping the future of the land. Sifre Deuteronomy piska 8 teaches:
Which the Lord swore unto your fathers (1:8): Why does the verse go on to say to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob?… A parable: A king gave his servant a certain field as a gift, gave it to him as it was. The servant went to work to improve it, saying, “What I have is only that which was given to me as it was,” and planted a vineyard in it, saying again, “What I have is only that which was given to me as it was.”
The Midrash goes on to quote examples from each of the forefathers who made an improvement to the Land by working hard and cultivating it for future generations. The forefathers serve as an example for all of us. We must appreciate the gifts we have been given and invest of ourselves to shape, develop and sustain them for the future.
Jason Rogoff is a faculty member at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University and the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. He is also one of the co-founders of Yeshivat Talpiot. He earned his PhD in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Dr. Jason Rogoff, our Scholar-in-Residence, recently published a book suited for the Talmud learner as an introduction to academic Talmud study. We are very proud of Jason and his accomplishments and feel fortunate to have him with us this summer. Read the description below and if interested find the link below to purchase your own copy of the book.
Reconstructing the Talmud, written and edited by Jason Rogoff and Joshua Kulp, is an introduction to academic Talmud study, illustrating the methods and techniques we employ to uncover the historical development and circumstances of a given text in rabbinic literature. It will, for the first time, bring these insights to the English-speaking Talmud learner in a clear format, the result of decades of teaching experience from both authors. Click here to purchase