# You shall possess the Land and dwell in it, for to you have I given the Land to possess it (Bamidbar [Numbers], 33:53). 'You shall possess,' denotes conquest and sovereignty, while 'you shall dwell' implies settling the Land so that it not remain desolate. Similarly, the Torah states, 'You shall possess it and you shall dwell therein' (Devarim [Deuteronomy], 11:31). Accordingly, the Ramban defines the mitzvah as follows: 'We were commanded to take possession of the Land that God, may He be blessed, gave to our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov; and we must not leave it in the hands of any other nation or let it remain desolate' (Addendum to Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvot, Positive Commandment 4). #
This mitzvah [commandment] is incumbent upon the Jewish people in every generation. See: 1 - The Mitzvah of Settling the Land of Israel
"The fourth (omission of the Rambam) is the command to inherit the land that God gave to our ancestors Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov, and not to allow it to be in the possession of another nation, nor to allow it to remain desolate…and it is a mitzva for all generations. Our Sages speak in astonishing tones concerning this commandment, for they say that 'whosoever leaves the land to dwell outside of it ought be regarded as one who worships idols' (Talmud Ketubot 110b)…therefore, this is a positive commandment forever that obligates each individual, even during the time of Exile…the Sifre adds: 'when Rabbi Yehuda ben Betayra, Rabbi Matya ben Cheresh, Rabbi Chananya nephew of Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Natan had to leave Eretz Yisrael, they journeyed as far as Palatia. They remembered Eretz Yisrael and began to cry, rending their garments. They recalled the verse 'you shall inherit it and dwell in it and observe the laws.' They concluded 'dwelling in Eretz Yisrael is equivalent to all of the other mitzvot!'" (Hasagot HaRamban, Mitzvat Asei 4).
We have been commanded to take possession of the land which the Lord gave to our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and we are specifically forbidden to abandon it to any other nation or allow it to become desolate. This is implied in the text:9 "You shall take possession of the land and dwell therein since T have given you this land to inherit and you shall inherit it." He specified for them the exact boundaries of the territory to which this religious obligation applied. The proof that this is an outright commandment emerges from Moses' exhortation to the spies: "Go up, take possession, as the Lord, God of thy fathers, hath spoken unto thee; fear not, nor be dismayed." It is further stated: "The Lord scnt you from Kadesh Barnea saying: 'Go up and possess the land which T have given you.' "11 When they refused to go up, the text observes: "You rebelled against the commandmcnt of the Lord and disoheycd Him." This indicates quite clearly that a specific commandment and not a mere promise or prophecy is involved. This is what our sages termed a holy war (milchemet mitzvah). Do not be misled into imagining that this commandment only ap23 TRADITION: A Journ.al of Orthodox Thought plies to the displacement of the original seven nations (in Joshua's time J. Those nations we wcre commanded to destroy or make peace with them undcr ccrtain conditions. But the land itself was not to be left in their possession or in that of any other nation, in any generation. Similarly when those nations fled from before us, for example the Girgashite (who according to the Midrash repaired to Africa), we were stil commandcd to cnter the land, conquer the cities thereof and settle our tribes thcrein. We were also forbidden to leave it and conquer Assyria, Babylonia or other countries. The commandment specifically refers to Eretz Yisrael. Our Sages extolled the virtues of Eretz Yisrael in extravagant terms. They said: "He who leaves it and lives outside the land should be regared by you as idolator." I maintain that such hyperbolic statements were prompted by their concern to honor this explicit positive commandment of the Torah to take possession of the land and live therein. Accordingly, it is a positive commandment applying to every generation, binding on each one of us, even during the period of exile, as is clear from many passages in the Talmud.