Love of the Land

Love of the Land - Yam HaMelach (Dead Sea)

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Love of the Land
Selections from classical Torah sources
which express the special relationship between
the People of Israel and Eretz Yisrael

YAM HAMELACH (DEAD SEA)

The lowest spot on the earth's surface - about 394 meters below sea level - the Yam Hamelach is commonly known as the Dead Sea because no fish can live in it, and its mineral substances destroy almost all organic life.

A fascinating explanation of how this unusual sea came into being is offered by the great Biblical commentator Rabbi Meir Leibush Malbim. When Avraham parted company with his nephew Lot, the latter is reported to have lifted his eyes and looked at "the entire Jordan plain, which was entirely irrigated before Hashem destroyed Sodom and Amorrah." (Bereishet 13:10) The Jordan River once created a fertile delta at this plain, compared at the conclusion of this passage to the famous Nile Delta and the "Garden of Hashem" in Eden. It was the richness of this well-watered land that attracted Lot to settle in its principal city, the wicked Sodom.

When Hashem destroyed Sodom and its sister cities, this plain turned into a giant crater which became filled with the water of the Jordan running into it. The salt and other minerals contained in the depths of the earth combined with the Jordan waters to form the Dead Sea.

In the early 1930s exploitation of the close to 50 million tons of magnesium chloride, sodium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium bromide in this sea was initiated, and today it has become the site of major commercial enterprises farming it for minerals and health products. Also, it is a considerable attraction for tourists and those seeking health cures in its mineral-rich waters.


The Love of the Land Archives

Written by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach, Dean, Ohr Somayach Institutions
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
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