By Ariella Bracha Waldinger
Making Aliyah is, in my opinion, the only means by which to constantly connect to the specialness of Eretz Yisrael. It affords you the greatest opportunity to create a profound shift in awareness that can transform your consciousness and allow you to operate on a new spiritual frequency. It enables a leap to an entirely new level of being that is intrinsically connected to living in the Holy land.
Rabbi Moshe Lichtman’s dynamic book, “Eretz Yisrael in the Parasha” has become my new favorite Shabbat book because it connects the land of Israel with the weekly Torah portion. In doing so, it creates a new and awe inspiring appreciation for living in the Land G-d chose for His beloved nation and connects the reader to the extraordinary specialness of living in Eretz Yisrael.
The Rav points out in parasha Beresheit that at the very beginning of creation G-d designated Eretz Yisrael as a special land, even before the Jewish people came on the scene of history.
The Rav ascertains in Parasha Noach that Chazal states that rain did not fall in Eretz Yisrael but rolled in from the other lands. He quotes the Ba’al HaTanya (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi) saying, “G-d’s main purpose in bringing the flood was to purify the world from its corruption and therefore the flood served as a mikveh of sorts. Eretz Yisrael was spared the downpour of fiery rain because it is intrinsically pure and holy and virtually impossible to defile or corrupt.” This statement speaks volumes as to why a Jew should reside in the Holy Land especially if one is striving to become holy.
As we arrive at parasha Lech Lecha, and Rabbi Lichtman continues observing the significance of the land and reminds us that the main theme of the parasha is entirely related to Eretz Yisrael. Rav Lichtman states, “Rav Meir Yechiel of Ostrovtza points out that HaShem’s command to Avraham…… Go forth from your land to the land I will show you (12.1) constitutes the first mitzvah ever given to a Jew! Thus, the first thing G-d ever said to Avraham, the first Jew was, “Leave your birthplace and immigrate to MY SPECIAL LAND.” It is interesting to note there was no introduction from G-d, no burning bush, just “Lech Lecha.” Rav Lichtman poses the question: why did G-d chose to begin Judaism with “GO FORTH TO THE LAND?”
Noted author of the famous book, The Kuzari, Yehuda HaLevi provides a beautiful and profound answer: “You find that after Avraham, the most exceptional person of his time, climbed the ladder of perfection and became eligible to cling to G-dliness, he was transferred from his land to ERETZ YISRAEL, the only place he could reach absolute perfection.”
The Rav continues: “in other words, although Avraham had attained high levels of perfection outside the Land, G-d knew that he would be able to fulfill his destiny and attain true perfection ONLY in Eretz Yisrael!”
He then explains the significance of going straight to the Holy Land. Avraham had to leave the defiled lands of exile and enter his natural habitat, where he could thrive and grow and produce offspring that could do the same in spite of the fact that he was doing some very important things in chutz l’aretz. G-d absolutely knew he could achieve greater accomplishments in eretz HaKodesh, the land set aside for the Jewish nation.
Rav Lichtman summarizes stating that “no matter how high one can climb on the ladder of spiritual perfection in Chutz L’aretz, one can climb higher in G-ds Chosen Land.” He says, “Yes, the first Divine command ever given to a Jew was Lech Lecha because Eretz Yisrael is the prerequisite for all Judaism.”
I would highly recommend this book for the enhancement of your Shabbat Torah and especially if you are a Lover of Zion. You can purchase it at Israel 365 store.
In the merit of Lech Lecha and all its deeper meanings that we hold sacred, may we receive G-dly protection for us and all of Klal Yisrael especially in G-ds beloved holy Land. May we never take for granted the enormous privilege of living in Eretz Yisrael and all that it has to offer, as we perceive so profoundly from this Torah portion.
Shabbat Shalom, Ariella Bracha