Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Yosi were standing one day and discussing this passage. Rabbi Elazar said: It is written, "A land in which [lit. 'which in it'] you shall eat bread without scarceness; you shall not lack anything in it..." (Deut. 8:9) Why are the words "in it" repeated twice? It has already been stated that G‑d divided all the peoples and the lands according to appointed angels. But the land of Israel has no angel or governor controlling it, only G‑d alone. This is why He brought the people over whom no one rules, to the land over which no one rules [except for G‑d].

Come and see! G‑d supplies the Land of Israel with provisions and food first, and then to the rest of the world. So all the other nations "eat in scarceness," while in the land of Israel it is not so — but the land of Israel is nourished first and only then the rest of the world. This is why is says, "A land which in it you shall eat bread without scarceness," in which you shall eat in rich abundance. Thus, "in it you shall eat," but only "in it," and not in any other place. Thus, "in it" [a second time refers to] the holiness of the land[which causes the abundance]; "in it" the supernal faith resides, "in it" rests the blessing from above, but only "in it" and in no other place. [Only in the Land of Israel will the supernal blessings rest and give flowing abundance to malchut and not to any other place, thus it is written "in it" twice to show that there is both a supernal and lower land of Israel, the supernal being malchut.]

Come and see! It is written[about Sodom, that it was] "as the garden of G‑d, like the land of Egypt." (Gen. 13:10) It is still not clear if Egypt or Sodom is "as the garden of G‑d," or if the "garden of G‑d" is the garden that is called the Garden of Eden? Actually, "as the garden of G‑d," which is full of abundance and pleasure for all, refers to Sodom and Egypt. Just as the garden of G‑d does not require irrigation, neither does Egypt, which is irrigated by the river Nile.

Come and see. It is written, "And whosoever does not come up of all the families of the earth to Jerusalem
[on the festival]..." (Zachariah 14:17) would be punished by having rain withheld. But "if the family of Egypt does not go up, and does not come Jerusalem," (14: 18) it is not written that "upon them shall be no rain," because it usually does not rain in Egypt, and the people there are in no need of it. So what is their punishment? It is as the verse continues, "this shall be the plague, with which G‑d will smite the nations...", since the Egyptians don't need rain. Sodom, as well, was "well watered everywhere...", (Gen. 13:10) it had all the worldly pleasures and delights, for they did not want any other person to share these delights or receive these pleasures there.

Rabbi Chiya said that the Sodomites were wicked because of themselves and their possessions. A person who is stingy with the poor is not worthy of continued existence in the world. In addition, he has no life in the World to Come [for they will dwell in darkness among the kelipot in the depths of Purgatory.] But whoever is goodhearted towards the needy is worthy of existence in the world, and the world exists because of his merit. He shall have life [from the light of chochma and bina for there dwells life] and longevity in the World to Come.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida include this section? What do they want us to learn?

We make our own beds, or should I say, gardens. Will your garden be overflowing with bounty? Or will it be dry and desolate? How can we take the gifts we receive from G‑d and share it with the world? "What's yours is yours, and what's mine is mine" never worked. Not in Sodom, not today. Life below is drawn from the source of life above. When we promote life below, we help others, as well as ourselves too, to receive blessings from above.

What does the above passage mean to YOU?! Why are you reading it NOW?!


Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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