Parashat Re'eh: Upon Entering the Land

Our Parashah focuses on the community. "Look! I place before you [plural] today a blessing and a curse" (Devarim 11:26). Eretz Yisrael is the location where the blessing of holiness appears. The first act which the community of Israel must do when it enters Eretz Yisrael is to destroy idol worship (Devarim 12:2-3). Entering the Land and destroying idol worship is in fact one and the same. There is even a special blessing recited when seeing a spot where this occurred: "Blessed is Hashem, our G-d, King of the Universe, who uprooted idol worship from our Land." This Land cannot bear to have idolatry within it. The Rambam explained in Hilchot Melachim (6:5) – based on the words of our Sages (Yerushalami, Shvi'it 6:1) – that when Yehoshua conquered the Land, he sent three letters to the non-Jews: 1. If you want to flee, you can do so and we will not pursue you. Our Sages explain that the Girgashi fled to Africa. 2. If you want to wage war, we will wage war against you. 3. If you want to make peace and remain here, you can do so under two conditions: A. This Land is ours, and will be under our sovereignty as the Ramban says (Additions to Sefer Ha-Mitzvot of the Rambam, positive mitzvah #4). You must accept our authority. B. You must rid yourself of all idol worship. Here, in this Land, there is no place for idol worship.

Question: Why then don't we destroy all the idol worship which is in our Land at this time?
Answer: There is a midrash which says that one must have much deliberation in this matter, lest we destroy it and others rebuild it, such as a weak government that gives into political considerations (Midrash Tana'im Devarim 12:2 p. 58. Avot De-Rebbi Natan 52, 11. And see Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pp. 260-271).