Moses prepares the B’nei Yisrael for their entry into the Promised Land in his farewell speech, despite being painfully aware he will not be joining his beloved people.
After reminding them of their misdemeanours and of Hashem’s goodness, he compares and contrasts their destination, the Land of Israel, with their place of origin, Egypt.
He explains Israel is unlike Egypt, ‘Where you plant your seed and water it on foot, like a vegetable garden’ (Devarim 11:10).
Moses is referring to the River Nile, which irrigates the Nile Delta area like clockwork.
This fertile area is unlike Israel, which has no natural water source, but rather ‘from the rain of Heaven will it drink water’ (Devarim 11:11).
The question is that surely Egypt is more fertile than Israel and would therefore be a more suitable location for the Promised Land, but the answer demonstrates Israel’s unique qualities and its suitability for the B’nei Yisrael.
Israel’s annual rainfall remains a major issue. Indeed, one of the issues leading up to the Six-Day War was the Headwater Diversion Plan, an Arab League plan to divert two of the three sources of the Jordan River, and prevent them from flowing into the Sea of Galilee.
Israel is dependent on rainwater precisely because it is a land that requires us to pray and realise that the water source and that of all life is the Almighty.
It is a land where we feel a very real sense of dependence on God – the perfect place for Jews to play out their national mission.
Rabbi Jonny Roodyn is educational director at Jewish Futures Trust