The Land of Israel is central to the spiritual development of a Jew. We all know the story of how the Meraglim (spies) were severely punished for speaking badly about it. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches that true Emuna and prayer can only be found in the Holy Land and his main student, R’ Natan wrote that his teacher himself derived energy for a lifetime in his short visit there.
So what is so special about the Land of Israel and how can we connect to it?
The simple meaning
In Sifrei (a Tannaic work on the books of Bamidbar and Devarim), it’s written that “Living in the Land of Israel is equivalent to all the Mitzvot in the Torah”. This statement already gives us an idea of the supreme importance of living in the Holy Land. The sages teach us that it’s forbidden to leave the Land of Israel except in order to find work. In the story of Ruth, we see how Hashem killed great men like Elimelech, Machlon and Kilion because they left the Holy Land and didn’t come back (Talmud Bava Batra 91).
Many commentators point out that, as Jews live securely in the Land of Israel, they bring sustenance to the entire world. In fact, the Sages in Massechet Ta’anit teach us that the Holy Land “drinks first” out of the rain supply that comes to the world. The Land itself only yields its produce when the Jews are living there and so, before the establishment of the State of Israel, it was simply a physical desert.
More than that, we know from the prophets that the final Redemption will begin in the Land of Israel, where all the exiles will be gathered to greet Mashiach. This is explained at length in the books of the Prophets and Kol HaTor from the Vilna Gaon.
Secrets of the Land of Israel
None less than the Arizal greatly praised living in the Holy Land because it’s much closer to Hashem than all other lands. As we know, there are 4 main worlds through which Hashem emanates his divine energy, Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Assiyah. Atzilut is pure divinity, not real creation. Below it is Beriyah is where the Throne of Glory resides. Right below it is the Land of Israel, which is just one step removed from the highest levels of revelation. At the lowest rung is the other lands, to which the divine light comes with an extra filter.
In the Zohar, we also learn that in the Land of Israel, even the Angel in charge of taking out the souls of the departed is not really the Angel of Death, but rather the Angel Gabriel, who’s much more compassionate in his job. He just assumes the title of “Angel of Death” due to his special charge. Death in the Holy Land also atones for one’s sins immeasurably.
In Sha’ar HaGilgulim (Gates of Reincarnation), Rabbi Chaim Vital explains that all the 10 sons of Yaakov Avinu came in an Yibur (pregnancy reincarnation) inside the 10 spies in order to prevent them from speaking disparagingly of the Land of Israel. When they saw that there was no chance of success they flew away back to the Higher Worlds.
The reason is because, as the Zohar Bamidbar 118a explains “There’s no happiness, except when Israel is settled in the Holy Land”. When the spies prevented the tremendous divine unity that would be manifested in the near future, they were killed in a plague. Since the Land of Israel corresponds to the Sephira of Malkhut, the Shechina, this sin of the spies prevented it from receiving a huge amount of Light from the upper 6 Sephirot (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod).
This goes to show how incredibly dear the Land of Israel is to Hashem, and especially when the Jews are living there.
Connecting to the Land of Israel
In light of all that the question arises: how can those outside the Land of Israel connect to its incredible energy?
While nothing substitutes actually living here, there are in fact many ways. One of them is by giving Tzedaka (charity) to Talmidei Chakhamim living here. Supporting Torah institutions and their students establishes a connection between those living there and those outside of it, so that they can acquire a greater merit for the money spent. This is what many great Rabbis in previous generations, like the Vilna Gaon and R’ Shneur Zalman of Lyadi would do.
Another way to connect to it is by praying for the success of the Jewish People in there, and also meditating on its greatness. It’s important that we realize that in the end the righteous will all live in the Land of Israel, so we should exert as much effort as possible to come. Our sages teach in the Talmud that the preparation for a Mitzvah is in itself a Mitzvah and the Land of Israel lacks nothing (Brachot 36).
In summary, we should rejoice over, love and crave to come to the Land of Israel, even though circumstances beyond our control might prevent us from making the move.
This desire, even though is not fulfilled is nevertheless valued immensely by Hashem. I bless you that, through it, we should all merit to come here and greet Mashiach very soon in our days!
This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue in spreading emuna!
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