Creating Heaven on Earth

A gitte voch! In Parshas Ekev, we learn the second part of Krias Shma. At the end is a very interesting phrase, למען ירבו ימיכם וימי בניכם על האדמה אשר נשבע ה’ לאבותיכם לתת להם כימי השמים על הארץ, “In order that your days and your children’s days shall be numerous upon the land that Hashem swore to your father to grant them like the days of Heaven upon earth.” This is in reference to the mitzvah to love Hashem with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and the whole Torah. It is easy to ask “What is even the purpose of all these mitzvos and this Torah anyway? So much of it seems irrelevant to daily life, and all these commandments don’t really do anything like help me make money or do better in life in some measurable way.” Hashem tells us in this posuk (verse) the exact reason why we must keep the Torah and love Hashem. The purpose of Torah and mitzvos, especially as expressed by the Baal HaTanya and the rebbes of Chabad, is to build a dirah b’tachtonim, a dwelling place in the lower worlds for Hashem. This phrase expresses that concept in the clearest way in the Torah, that our Torah and mitzvos are intended to create Heaven on Earth. While this may apply specifically to Eretz Yisroel, Rambam brings in the Mishneh Torah the specific ceremony as to how we extend the boundaries of Eretz Yisroel to encompass other areas. There is also a general idea that the entire world will become Eretz Yisroel when Moshiach comes, so we can say wherever we keep the Torah and mitzvos, there we can create a taste of what it’s like in Shomayim, in the place without darkness and trouble.

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