Do Good Or The Land Will Vomit You Out...
The following is an excerpt below is taken from volume 2 of the Yalkut ME’AM LO’EZ on Parshat Vayarea. (I’m still behind but I’m catching up!) This was translated by Rav Aryeh Kaplan ZT”L. The author Rav Yaakov Culi (1689-1732) discusses why Sodom got totally wiped out and writes the following:
Returning to the account of Sodom, some people ask a serious question about the punishment of Sodom and Gomorah. True, they deserved to be punished, but there are many other people in the world who sin, and we do not see them punished in a similar manner. We never see a sinful nation so destroyed that so survivors remain.
Sodom deserved this punishment because it was on the boundary of the Holy Land. The holiness of the Land of Israel was matched only by the sinfulness of cities, who actually did things to spite G-d. The land itself could not tolerate them; it did not wish to be defiled by their sins.
This came to teach the Jews a lesson. If they inherited the land of Canaan, they would have to be very careful to keep the Torah and its commandments. If not, they would not be worthy of inhabiting the Holy Land.
Many people make pilgrimages to the Land of Israel, going to Jerusalem, Hebron, and Safed. Whether one goes to visit or to settle, he must behave differently than in other lands. In the Land of Israel one must be very careful not do anything wrong. The main reason for going to the Land of Israel is to awaken the heart to repent. [Then on has a portion in the World the Come for merely walking in the land.] But if one goes there merely for vacation, to eat and rest, this has no value in the Future World. And if one does not behave properly, the land throws him out, just as it “vomited out” the Canaanites who lived there and defiled the land through their evil deeds.