This week in Torah reading (Parshas Eikev) there is a very interesting portion in which the Creator( Hashem) promises to drive out the nations that lived in the land of Canaan as it is written: “Hashem, your G-d will thrust these nations from before you little by little; you will not be able to annihilate them quickly, lest the beasts of the field increase against you”(Devarim 7:22). It is also written in Parshas Mishpatim (23:29-30) “I shall not drive them away from you in a single year, lest the land become desolate and the wildlife of the field multiply against you. Little by little shall I drive them away from you, until you become fruitful and make the land your heritage.”
We are aroused to ask a few interesting questions of how we can possibly understand the simple reading of this section (pasukim) which implies that the wild animals, as threatening as they can be, could be considered more of a danger to us than the well fortified, strongly armed calculating enemy Canaanite nations? After all don’t we find that throughout history enemy nations have always posed a much greater threat than any type of wild animals? What therefore are these “beasts of the field” that are so dangerous that the Torah announces that it is seemingly preferable to allow the potentially hostile Canninite nations to continue dwelling in the land temporarily until we “become fruitful and fill up the land?
Perhaps these Torah sections can be understood in the following way that will teach us a wondrous lesson: Eretz Yisrael can be seen to correspond to the body for our nation and Jewish people are the soul within the body, as is alluded to within the name of Israel which is the name of both our nation and our land. How do we see the spiritual DNA of this connection? The letters yud, shin, reish, alef and lamed which form the word “Yisrael” the name of us as a nation and the name of our land are amazingly the exact acronym for the names of the Avos and Imahos of the Jewish people: Yitzchak, Yaakov, Sara, Rivka, Rachel, Avraham and Leah (according to the Ari HaKadosh, Likutei Torah, Kisvei Ari, parashas Vayishlach, d’h, Vayikra es shemo Yisrael).
If this is so, then let us ask if we are the soul and Eretz Israel compares to the body then what do the Canaanite nations and the beast of the field symbolize?
Perhaps we can venture to say that the powerful “Canaanite nations” can be understood to correspond to that part of human intellect which views life only through a lens of intellectual understanding of ephemeral values, while the “beasts of the field” can be seen to represent those baser emotions which are concerned with corporal pleasure seeking.
The Torah is therefore perhaps giving us an awesome teaching that when a Jewish neshoma begins its entry into the realm of fulfilling golden opportunities (mitzvos), as expressed in our nations entering the land of what will become Eretz Israel, there will be waiting for us two fierce adversaries which have to be subdued and controlled or expelled: One is the powerful, well fortified intellect which uses its powers of subjective reasoning and rationalization to ratify and justify its lifestyle choices, while the other even more potentially licentious adversary is here referred to as the “beasts of the field”.
Therefore the Torah is informing us, that because our self willed intellect and the unbridled emotions will not meekly yield to this yoke without a struggle, that only as quickly as we “increase” our levels of Torah and yerias Shamiem, will Hashem correspondingly help us to safely remove “little by little” the influence of those our ego motivated powers within all of us that up until the time of the 12th year for girls and the 13th year for boys has total rein over us . [Of course when referring to those kinds of thoughts allowed to temporarily remain, we are only referring to only those kinds of thoughts that are in the permissible range.] From here we can derive awesome lesson in life that human mind, like the land, is never a vacuum and therefore if the intellect is not occupied with some kind of mindful thoughts it will easily become inundated with an onslaught of corporeal desires. It is only when the 12 or 13 years of age that we receive the power of our eternal soul and that is when the battle really starts.
May we, the Bnei Israel, all merit soon in our days to reach the ideal level of Eretz Israel, as our Avos and Emos did, where our minds and hearts will only yearn to be constantly filled with the Devar Hashem.