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Va’eschanan: The Gift of Eretz Yisrael

Miriam Aflalo

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

“I pleaded with G-d … ‘let me cross [the Jordan]. Let me see the good land across the Jordan, the good mountain and the Lebanon.

(Devarim 3:23, 25)

 

Rashi: “The good mountain” refers to Jerusalem. “And the Lebanon” refers to the Beis HaMikdash.

In addition to the mitzvah of settling Eretz Yisrael, there is the concept of acquiring a portion in Eretz Yisrael — making Eretz Yisrael yours. This is similar to acquiring a portion in the World to Come. In order to receive such a portion of the Land, one needs to recognize the greatness of the Land. (Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, Sichos Mussar)

Eretz Yisrael.

For thousands of years, Jews carried Eretz Yisrael with them in the treasure chest of their dreams. In the heavy rains of Europe, they longed for “Eretz Yisrael of the blue skies and heavenly cities.” In Yemen, their eyes turned with yearning to the “Eretz Yisrael of the poems of Rav Shalom Sharabi.” From Persia to Canada, they pined for “the holy alleyways and pure clods of earth.” Eretz Yisrael of the Mearas HaMachpeilah and the Makom HaMikdash … of the Kosel HaMaaravi, of Hashem and His People …

The day finally came and eagles of steel brought them to the Land of their treasured dream, to the Land described by Rav Yehuda HaLevi: “My heart is in the East, but I am in the West.” They had dreamed, and now they came, falling onto the golden sands of its beaches, kissing its soil, saying, “Now we can live proudly in Eretz Yisrael.”

But what become of the Land? The brimming orchards were exchanged for asphalt-paved highways; the blue heavens were crisscrossed with the skyscrapers and neon lights of Tel Aviv. And the holy alleyways were filled with coffee shops and restaurants.

It’s mind-boggling that we merit to see Eretz Yisrael, yet we don’t properly feel the great elevation we acquire by dwelling in the Land. (ibid.)

Eretz Yisrael was taken out of the beribboned gift box and reducted to the context of tourism and real estate. The Holy Land? The soul’s vision? The summit of longing and the yearned-for dream? It’s all been swallowed up in modern commercialism.

Certainly Eretz Yisrael is the holiest Land of all. Yet, the price of plane tickets has dropped over the decades … so why not take a nice outing to enchanting Switzerland, where you can have a full mountain range as opposed to one Mount Hermon?

The world is full of deserts and beaches; we’re not limited to visiting one small stretch bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Moshe Rabbeinu said before Him, “Ribono shel Olam! Yosef’s bones will enter the Land, and I won’t enter?”

Hashem answered, “He who acknowledged his Land will be buried in his Land, and he who didn’t acknowledge his Land will not be buried in his Land.”

Yosef acknowledged his Land. When? His mistress said, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew unto us,” and he didn’t deny this, but said, “For indeed I was stolen away from the Land of the Hebrews.”

“You, who didn’t acknowledge, won’t be buried in your Land.” How so? Yisro’s daughters said, “An Egyptian saved us from the shepherds,” and he heard and was silent.

This wasn’t a punishment, but a reality; whoever doesn’t acknowledge the Land doesn’t belong to the Land. (ibid.)

Acknowledging the Land. Recognizing its spiritual greatness above all other sites in the world.

We are a generation that has merited to experience what our ancestors pined for. We cannot fall into the trap of ennui.

Eretz Yisrael isn’t just another country with a variety of landscapes, interesting archeological digs, and great falafel. Eretz Yisrael is an island of spirituality, pure, elevated in holiness far above the whole world, a place in which every action and each mitzvah is loftier. A place where Hashem is closer to us and our prayers are more direct; a country whose very air imbues wisdom, where Torah wafts among her hills and fear of Heaven among her alleyways. This is the gate of Heaven.

This explanation teaches us that in order to receive the abundance showered from Above on those who dwell here, as it states “Hashem’s Eyes are on it,” there’s a condition — to recognize the worth of the Land. This feeling allows a person to fall under the Hashgachah of Hashem that fills the Land. (ibid.)

We have to appreciate the Land, acknowledge it.

To give thanks for the merit of being able to arrive at its shores easily.

And only then can we truly merit acquiring Eretz Yisrael.

 

 

The blue heavens were crisscrossed with the skyscrapers and neon lights of Tel Aviv. And the holy alleyways were filled with coffee shops and restaurants

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