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    To be a settler – Chayyei Sarah

    Abraham’s self-description was “settler and sojourner” (ger v’toshav: Gen. 23:4).

    Today the phrase “the settlers” resonates in anti-Israel sloganism. Jews who live anywhere in Israel are tarred with the “settler” brush, even those who live in big cities like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Hijacking the word “settler”, the critics imply that Israelis are usurpers.

    Other words too are hijacked; terrorists are called freedom fighters, murderers are called desperate underdogs.

    To go back to the “settlers”, we find that human beings as a whole are described by God in the Tanach as “strangers and settlers with Me”, indicating that God is the only being who has proprietary rights and a permanent presence on earth whilst human beings inhabit the earth as tenants (look at Psalm 90 for evidence).

    One of the great Jewish gedolim was visited by someone who was surprised to see that the gadol lived in one sparsely furnished room. The visitor said, “It looks like you don’t really live here!” “No, I don’t,” was the reply, “I’m only a visitor in the Almighty’s world”.

    Visitors are endowed with a blessing from On High. Settlers are not usurpers; they are visitors in God’s world.

    To be a settler is a compliment, a challenge, a privilege, a blessing – not a sneaky means of besmirchment.

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