YomTov, Vol. II, # 10
The Land of Israel - Home Sweet Home
by Rabbi Yehudah Prero
The Medrash in this week's parsha of Kedoshim writes: 'May He dispatch your help from the Holy (Tehillim/Psalms 20)' - Rav Levi said all the future good and blessings and consolations that G-d will give to Israel come only from Zion (the land of Israel).
The Yefeh To'ar, a commentator on the Medrash, explains this statement. He writes that all that comes to the nation of Israel - both spiritual and material - stems from the land of Israel. Why? G-d has an extra special bond with the land of Israel. He watches and cares for the land of Israel a measure beyond other lands. Therefore, the land of Israel is the proper channel for all good that comes to the Jewish people.
In fact, the land itself provides its inhabitants with certain benefits. This unique quality of the land can be explained with a Gemora in the tractate of Sotah (47a). In the book of Melachim II (2:23-24), we are told that the prophet Elisha was traveling to the city of Bais-El. Some young boys came out to Elisha and started yelling the insult "Go up, bald head" at him. Elisha saw these youngsters and cursed them. Suddenly, two bears came out of the forest and tore apart 42 of the youngsters. In the Gemora, there is a dispute as to how miraculous this event was. We are not told in the Scriptures where this event took place. One opinion is that Elisha was in a forest when the incident happened. The reason why the event was miraculous was because no bears lived in the forest, and the appearance of the bears was a miracle. This is termed "a miracle." The other opinion is that the event should be termed "a miracle within a miracle." Why is that the case? Elisha, when the young boys came out to jeer at him, was nowhere near a forest, but rather in a town, an inhabited area. A miracle was performed so that both a forest and bears appeared suddenly. Hence, a double miracle occurred. The Gemora asks a question on this later opinion: Why was it necessary to create a forest as well as bears? Wouldn't the appearance of bears be enough to accomplish the task?
The answer provides us with an important lesson. The nature of bears is that they will not attack if there is no place to retreat to when faced with danger. In order for the bears to do what they had to do here, they had to be in a setting in which they were naturally comfortable. Without a forest, the bears would not have attacked. Only when the bears were coming from a forest, a surrounding which by nature they felt comfortable in, would they not be afraid to attack. Therefore, it was necessary to miraculously create a forest so that the bears would be able to attack.
The Jewish people have a special connection to the land of Israel. This connection is so great that it is part and parcel of a Jew's nature to feel comfortable there. The land of Israel is our home. Because it is part of a Jew's nature to feel at home in Israel, it is not surprising that a Jew will be able to accomplish more there. Our sages have told us this: The air of the land of Israel wises a person. Just as the bears in the story of Elisha could not properly accomplish their task without the comfort of the forest, so too we as Jews can not reach total success unless we are in the comfort of our home, the land of Israel.
Yom Ha'Atzmaut, (the 5th day of Iyar) this year falls out on Wednesday, April 24. The day before the celebration of the creation of the state of Israel is known as Yom HaZikaron, the day on which we are to remember those who have given of their lives in defense of the state of Israel. As we said above, not only all good that comes to the Jewish people comes from Israel, but all consolations as well come from Israel. The families of those who lost loved ones defending Israel should take pride in the fact that the men and women who fought were defending their home - the home of all Jews. The desire to live in this home was a natural feeling, and one which inspired these people to give of their lives in the defense of the home of the Jewish people. When we are reminded of how lucky we are to be able to live at home, to live in the place from where all good emanates, the place where we by nature can best succeed, we must be thankful. We have to thank those people who made this possible. More importantly, we have to thank G-d for making it possible. Hopefully, the entire Jewish nation will soon return home, to celebrate the arrival of Moshiach and the building of the Third Temple.
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