Connecting to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
לך לך מארצך
“And grant us to long, yearn, and desire always to come to the Land of Israel till we realize our thoughts and travel and arise to the Land of Israel speedily…” (Likutei Tfilot I 55)
One of the matters that can enhance our desire for the Land of Israel is the realization that the Land of Israel provides us good sustenance not only on a spiritual level but also on a para-material-spiritual level as well. This concept can be hinted in our Sages interpretation of our title quote which commands Avraham to go the Land ‘for you’ to mean that HaShem tells Avraham to go for himself and his own benefit as well. Going in Avraham’s footsteps we can learn from this message that it is also important to contemplate how our Land is also beneficial to us in material, social, organizational, and other ways.
Indeed, when we eat of the produce of the Land halacha mandates that one is to conclude the last sentence of a ‘bracha achrona’ (blessing after eating foods other than bread) with a letter or two that signifies that the food that was eaten originated from the Land of Israel. This means that upon wine that originated from the Land of Israel one is to conclude ‘al pri gafna’ (upon the fruit of its vine) instead of saying ‘al pri hagefen’ (upon the fruit of the vine), as one would say upon wine that originated from the Diaspora. This same rule applies to the 5 species of fruit among the 7 species that the Land is praised for, and, according to Sephardic tradition, also upon the 5 species of grain, when originating from the Land of Israel. If one is in doubt whether a product originated in the land of Israel one is to use the conclusion used for Diaspora fruit. This rule is true even for one who is present in the Diaspora but has consumed a product that originated in the Land of Israel. This law is meant to express our praise of God for giving us the Land of Israel which provides us with this produce.
It seems that it is by Hebron that we learn of some of the material advantages of the Holy Land as well. The Torah says that ‘Hebron was built seven years before Zoan of Egypt’. Our Sages interpret this verse to mean that it comes to teach that even Hebron, considered to be the ‘rubble of the Land of Israel’ in the sense that it was used for a graveyard in Maaras HaMachpela is yet greater than even Zoan of Egypt, compared in the Torah to the ‘garden of HaShem’ – a kind of ‘paradise’. It is clear that this statement of the Sages does not come to deviate Hebron’s spiritual level among the cities of the Land of Israel, for this would contradict the many sources that point at Hebron’s superior spiritual level among the cities of Israel. Rather, it is clear that our Sages’ statement refers to the material level of Hebron, that even on this level Hebron supersedes the material ‘paradise’ of the Diaspora.
In tractate Ktubot (111-2) our Sages point to the material prosperity of the Land of Israel to be exceedingly great, but yet this prosperity is dependent on the goodness of its inhabitants. Nevertheless, Hebron’s ‘lowly’ material level in comparison to the other cities of Israel does not pose a disadvantage but rather an advantage. One of the great Tannaic masters, R. Yehoshua, taught that if Torah scholars were less materially/physically attractive they would concentrate on their spiritual studies more and be even greater scholars. In a similar sense, our Sages teach that Jerusalem did not grow paradise fruit like Jericho, in order that People concentrate on the spiritual motive of ascending to Jerusalem for the sake of a mitzva and not be distracted by material motives such as paradise fruit. This is Hebron – one of the highest spiritual beacons of the world.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #142
“It was just before Purim, and I had no idea how I was supposed to deliver our mishloah manos with my car which was on the verge of breaking down. I prayed to HaShem for help. While driving on Taanis Ester I stopped to pick up a man who motioned that he needed a ride. However, on the way suddenly my car broke down. I explained to the man that I need a downhill in order to continue, and for this I need help shoving the car till it reaches a downhill. He helped shove the car to the downhill, and the car started working again. When he got back into the car I explained to him the condition of the car and my financial incapability to pay its repairs. To this he answered, ‘before I made Aliya from Yemen I was a car repair-man – I can fix your problem easily.’ I parked next to my house, and this man subsequently started repairing my car and giving me advice on the way. After he was finished fixing the car, the man refused to receive anything for his work (worth about 1000 NIS), saying that it is a gift in honor of Purim.” Y.S