Published September 2019
Who Owns the Land?
Once two men became involved in a quarrel over a piece of land. They decided to take their dispute to the rabbi who would solve the problem. One said, “The land is mine!”
The other retorted, “The land belongs to me!” The rabbi thought for a moment, and then he said, “Why don’t you come back and ask me the same question one hundred years from now?”
The simple truth is that the earth is the Lord’s and we are merely the spiritual renters.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, reaffirms this ancient truth. This day does not commemorate the founding of a religion, nor does it salute the birth of an individual; but rather it celebrates the anniversary of the creation of the universe. To put it simply, Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world. It is especially significant that the second Hebrew word of the Torah is Bara – “He (God) created”. This emphasis on creativity is really the moving force of intelligent and productive living. The very fact that in the Hebrew the act of creation is placed between the word “beginning” and the name of God suggests that we might freely interpret the first verse of the Bible to read: “The beginning of all creative thought and living occurs when we recognize God as the source of moral energy and spiritual power”.
May you all enjoy a Happy, Healthy New Year.
Rabbi Alvin Kass
Chief Chaplain of the NYPD