Intermountain Jewish News

Apr 16th
Home Columns View from Denver Territorial Imperative: forward to the past

Territorial Imperative: forward to the past

E-mail Print PDF

In The Territorial Imperative, Robert Ardrey argues that a universal, primal instinct encompasses both the animal kingdom and humankind: the compulsion to possess and defend territory. Without territory, “territorial species” cease to exist.

Just one problem, which Ardrey, try as he might, cannot quite wedge into his category: the Jews. For nearly 1,900 years, the Jews had no territory and were subjected to terrible persecutions, yet still flourished as scholars, traders, and even builders of community. Clearly, “territorial imperative” needs to be redefined. For the Torah, territory is something less to be defended than to be sanctified, and something whose importance rises as its size shrinks.

Of all the comments on the Torah, one of the oddest is that of Rashi on the very first verse of Genesis, “In the beginning G-d created . . . ” Rashi wonders: Is the entire book of Genesis unnecessary and, for that matter, the first eleven chapters of Exodus too? Rashi suggests they are pointless because the purpose of the Torah is to lay down the laws of G-d. Since these do not begin until the twelfth chapter of Exodus, everything before that is pointless.

Genesis, irrelevant!

Thus wonders Rashi.

If the question is odd, Rashi’s answer, at first blush, is even odder. The reason G-d must recount the creation of the cosmos is to establish a legal defense for the Jewish right to the Land of Israel. The defense? G-d created the world. Ergo, G-d owns the world. Ergo, G-d may give any part of the world to whomever He wishes. Ergo, G-d’s gift of the Land of Israel to the Jewish nation is above any legal challenge.

The rest of this article is available in the December 27, 2013 IJN print edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or subscribe to our new online e-Edition.


Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Cast Your Vote

Should recognition of Israel as a Jewish state be a deal breaker?

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Palestinian rioters attack IDF outpost in Hebron

Marcy Oster Dozens of Palestinians attacked an Israel Defense Forces outpost in Hebron. ... [Link]

Flyers call on Ukrainian Jews to register with pro-Russian separatists

Cnaan Liphshiz Pro-Russian separatists from Donetsk in eastern Ukraine denied any involvement in the circulation of flyers calling on Jews to register with separatists and pay special taxes. ... [Link]

Paris court dismisses racial hatred charge against Bob Dylan

Marcy Oster A civil court in Paris dismissed a case of incitement to hatred against American singer Bob Dylan for remarks he made in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine. ... [Link]

Passover supplies arrive in Nepal in time for massive seder

Marcy Oster A large shipment of Passover supplies arrived in Kathmandu just in time for seder. ... [Link]

Hebron shooting victim laid to rest amid condemnations

Marcy Oster Hundreds attended the funeral for Israel Police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi, who was killed near Hebron while on his way to a Passover seder with his family. ... [Link]

Suspected Kansas City JCC shooter charged with murder in state court

Marcy Oster The suspect in the shootings of three people at two Jewish institutions in suburban Kansas City was charged in state court. ... [Link]

State Dept. voices support for peace talks as negotiators postpone meeting

Marcy Oster Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators postponed a scheduled meeting, as the U.S. State Department reiterated its support for the talks. ... [Link]

Temple Mount closed to Jewish visitors following Arab rioting

Marcy Oster The Temple Mount was closed to Jewish visitors on the second day of Passover following rioting at the site by dozens of Arab youth. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942 • •