A Microcosm of the World’s Natural Beauty
The most important image in the Torah portion of Ekev is the description of Eretz Yisrael (“The Land of Israel”). Eretz Yisrael is a land of diverse natural phenomena. God concentrated all the beauty of nature within its borders. When we meditate on the description of the Land of Israel, we discover that the physical manifestation of the Land’s beauty is but an allusion to its inner, spiritual majesty.
The Land of Waters
The four verses of praise for the Land of Israel are in Deuteronomy 8: 7-10. Significantly, the word eretz (land) is repeated in these verses seven times, corresponding to the seven attributes of the heart.
Eretz is mentioned twice in verse 7. First as a general introduction, that God is bringing the Jewish People to a good land. The verse continues that Israel is a land flowing with water; it emanates from streams, fountains, and subterranean depths — from the valleys and from the mountains.
The Land Blessed with Fruits
Verse 8 describes the 7 species of fruits with which Eretz Yisrael is blessed. Again in this verse the word eretz appears twice: first as a land of the five species of wheat and barley and grapes and figs and pomegranates, and then again as a land of the remaining two species; olive oil and honey (of dates).
The Land of Iron and Copper
In verse 9 eretz is also written twice. The verse opens with a promise that we will lack nothing in the land; it is a land whose stones are iron and from its mountains we will carve out copper.
The Good Land
In the three previous verses, the word for “land” is written as “eretz.” In verse 10, the word for “land” appears once — as ha’aretz — “the Land.” This final mention of the word eretz corresponds to the seventh attribute of the heart, malchut. It summarizes and concludes the descriptions of the Land in the three preceding verses. In this verse, Eretz Yisrael is described as a land of abundance, in which we will eat and be satiated and bless God for the good land that He has given us. The end of this unit of verses, with its reference to the good land, is enwedged in the beginning, in which Eretz Yisrael is described as a good land.
The Mountain of Supernal Lights
The unit of verses describing Eretz Yisrael has 55 words. 55 is the triangle of 10 (the sum of all numbers from 1 to 10). This means that the words of these verses can be written as a triangle, with the apex at the top of the triangle or at its bottom. This triangle has 10 levels, corresponding to the 10 supernal lights (sefirot) with which God created the world. When the apex is at the top of the triangle, the verses create an image of Eretz Yisrael as a mountain of 10 supernal lights:
Five words are written at the beginning of these verses before the first mention of eretz, followed by another 50 words. The last two words of this unit are natan (“gave” — numerical value of 500) and lach ( “to you” — numerical value of 50). This is 10 times the form of the entire unit of words. These last two words, describing the land that God “gave to you” for an eternal homeland encapsulate the entire form of the text.
The Creation Connection
There are 203 letters in the unit of verses describing the Land of Israel. 203 is the numerical value of the second word in the Torah, barah “created.” The letters of the word barah; beit, reish, alef, are also the first three letters of the first word of the Torah, bereishit. The fact that this unit has barah (203) letters points us clearly in the direction of the creation of the world, and particularly to the first day of creation, where the word barah first appears.
In the entire account of the six days of creation, God’s Name, Elokim (whose numerical value 86 = tevah — “nature,”) is written 32 times. In Kabbalah we learn that the inner essence of God’s Name, Elokim– which represents nature — is God’s essential Name, Havayah. The relation between Havayah and Elokim is expressed in Psalms (84:12): “Havayah Elokim is the sun and its shield.”
God’s essential Name, Havayah is likened to the sun while Elokim is referred to as the shield of the sun. The essence of the sun, the infinite lights of God’s essential Name, Havayah, are concealed by the shield of nature. Within each of the 32 times that Elokim is written in creation, Havayah (numerical value of 26) is at its inner core. 32 times 26 equals 832, the numerical value of Eretz Yisrael. This is the essence of our meditation and the essence of the Land of Israel. The beauty of nature concentrated in Eretz Yisrael reflects God’s purpose for creating the world. The mission of the Jewish People is to unite with the Land of Israel and to reflect God’s essential, infinite light concealed within the Land to all creation.
The Light of the Land of Israel
We have seen that the Land of Israel is the physical microcosm of creation and the place where its spiritual purpose is manifest. The seventh word (our Sages teach us that: “all sevens are dear”) in the account of creation is the word eretz, reflecting the seven times that the word eretz appears in the description of the Land of Israel. In the third verse of the account of creation, God says, Yehi or — “Let there be light.” The first two letters of eretz; alef, reish, spell the word or, “light.” The remaining letter of eretz, tzadik, represents the tzadik, the righteous person, as in the verse in Isaiah (60:21): “And your nation are all righteous persons, they will inherit the Land eternally….”
Kabbalah explains that the Land of Israel is the secret of the verse in Psalms (97:11): “Light is implanted within the tzadik…”
The first verse of creation ends with the word aretz (same as eretz). The purpose of the light created on the first day of creation is not to remain in the heavens, but to reach earth and to be implanted within it. This is the ultimate and essential light of God, manifest in the Torah. When the Jewish People dwell in Eretz Yisrael according to the laws of the Torah, they are all tzaddikim. They then become one with the Divine light inherent in the land, reflecting it to all creation and fulfilling the purpose for which God created the world.
God is One
The first day of creation is referred to in the Torah as “one day,” and not as the “first day.” This reflects God’s absolute unity. On the first day of creation, there was no plurality. The world’s consciousness was purely of the Oneness of God, as God intended when He created the world. When the one nation of Israel enters the Land of Israel we receive the ability to manifest the fact that the multitude of plurality apparent in creation is actually all the One God of Israel. The mission of the Jewish People on earth is to bring the consciousness that all is God and God is all to every created being.
The Land of the Supernal Crown
The Torah’s account of the first day of creation is the preface to the verses describing the blessing and beauty of Eretz Yisrael in our Torah portion. There are 197 letters in this account. When this is added to the 203 (barah) letters of the description of the Land of Israel, we receive 400, 20 squared. 20 represents the super conscious crown, the manifestation in our world of God’s infinite light above and beyond creation. In Kabbalah we learn that the “light of the crown,” or haketer has the numerical value of 832, exactly the value of Eretz Yisrael. The union of the first day of creation with the Land of Israel is the consummate union of the infinite light of the supernal crown as it manifests in creation, in the holy Land of Israel.