An Eternal Land And The Fulfillment Of An Eternal Hope

Publisher's Foreword

There is barely a day that passes without Eretz Yisroel being in the world's headlines.

And barely a day passes without Jews everywhere looking beneath those headlines to find out what's happening.

Two questions beg to be asked:

  1. Why does a small country with little economic influence - and today, little strategic importance - dominate the news to this degree?
  2. And why are almost all Jews, religious and secular, regardless of where in the world they live, interested in these events?

The fact that Eretz Yisroel features in the news so frequently is symptomatic of its prominence in an inner process of change shaping the future. And the involvement and concern we feel for the land indicates a deep connection touching the core of our being.

The essay that follows focuses on the motivating factors for this transitional process and the nature of our connection to Eretz Yisroel.

It is our hope that the awareness of these concepts will inspire positive activities and thus hasten the time when we and the entire Jewish people will return to Eretz Yisroel with the coming of the Redemption.

13 Teves, 5753

An Eternal Land And The Fulfillment Of An Eternal Hope

About 15 years ago, one of my friends was sent on a mission to Russia to spread Judaism among the country's seeking youth.

This was in the midst of the Brezhnev Era when these activities had to be carried out clandestinely, straining to avoid the ever present eyes of the government's agents.

He met many refuseniks, youth who had applied for exit visas to Eretz Yisroel, but whose requests were denied.

For many, this was an agonizing process, for from the time they made their application onward, opportunities to advance professionally were denied them, and often, they would lose their jobs entirely.

Nevertheless, with a tenacity that befits the children of "a stiff- necked people," they continued to apply over and over again.

In the midst of conversation, my friend asked one of these refuseniks how long he had been waiting for the chance to go to Eretz Yisroel.

"For 2000 years," the man answered.

The most important dimension of the story is its epilogue.

Last winter, I met the man in Eretz Yisroel.

His wish - and that of hundreds of thousands of his brethren - was finally fulfilled. He had settled in one of the suburbs of Jerusalem and was attending Ulpan.

This is a unique period in history.

Dreams that are 2000 years old are being consummated.

And a person with sensitivity can appreciate that this is merely a foretaste of greater things to come.

There is no way that anyone can view the return of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisroel, and the spreading of Jewish settlement throughout all portions of our land without feeling the imminence of the Redemption.

Let us not fool ourselves.

The Redemption is not a fait accompli, and Jews living in Eretz Yisroel have just as much - if not more - reason for concern because of the general condition of exile than their brethren in the Diaspora; the intifada and the scuds being the latest reminders.

But that is only one dimension.

The fact that after two thousand years, there are millions of Jews living in Eretz Yisroel, and that their numbers are growing day by day is a miracle in geo-politic (and socio-economic) terms, made possible only because the time for the Redemption is nearing.

The exact wording with which this concept should be expressed is a matter of debate among the philosophers:

Should this ongoing miracle be called an intimation of the Redemption, a glance from afar, or should another term be used?

The man in the street, both in Eretz Yisroel and in the Diaspora, has little interest in these semantic abstractions.

He knows about the travails our people endured journeying from one land to another throughout the exile. Whether or not he personally is prepared to live in Eretz Yisroel at present, he feels that for our people as a whole, this sequence has been completed; the Jews are entrenched in their homeland and will remain there forever.

Each one of us shares a deep connection with Eretz Yisroel.

For this reason, none of our people are casual about their relationship with the land.

At the time of the Six Day and Yom Kippur Wars, when Eretz Yisroel was threatened, our people opened their hearts - and their checkbooks - to the land with overwhelming generosity.

Even when there is no direct danger, the connection is alive.

A discussion about the political situation in Eretz Yisroel is likely to be stormy, for our people feel strongly about what happens in our land.

Even a Jewish radical who supports the PLO was motivated to adopt this position because Eretz Yisroel is important to him and this is his way of expression [1].

Why do we feel so strongly about Eretz Yisroel?

It is not because the land possesses a nice climate, nor is it because our people have created an exciting society in the land after their return. We care about Eretz Yisroel, because this is part of our inner spiritual heritage.

Our Rabbis [2] tell us that every Jew possesses a portion in Eretz Yisroel. They mean an actual portion, a piece of land that belongs to them.

The converse is also true.

Eretz Yisroel possesses a portion of every Jew; a piece of our heart and soul is connected to the land. For this reason, in Era of the Redemption, when the true reality permeating our existence will be revealed, all Jews will return to Eretz Yisroel [3].

On the other hand, within the present conditions, despite the connection we share with Eretz Yisroel, most of us are not moving there tomorrow.

Indeed, the majority of those Jews who have made aliyah to Eretz Yisroel have come out of need, not out of desire.

We are happy, or at the very least, familiar, with our present day circumstances and do not want to exchange them for a new frame of reference that we fear will be challenging.

This is one of the reasons why originally, the Reform movement struck out all references to Eretz Yisroel and the Redemption from its prayer book.

It was an honest reaction; they were concerned with their here and now, and did not want to look beyond that.

After the Second World War, and to a greater extent, after 1948, such an approach was no longer possible. Whether or not he makes aliyah, every Jew feels that what is happening in Eretz Yisroel is happening to him.

And a lot has been happening.

The sheer volume of news that Eretz Yisroel generates day by day, year by year is staggering.

Consider the population of the land, or its area.

Is there another country of such size that attracts so much attention?

The fact that the attention of the world is focused on Eretz Yisroel is not coincidental.

For in a true sense, Eretz Yisroel is intended to be the center of the world's attention.

As the time of the Redemption draws nearer, this inner truth seeks - and finds - expression.

It's like a Freudian slip.

The Arabs - and perhaps many of the Israelis - may not be conscious of the inner motivation moving Eretz Yisroel into the forefront of international concern. And yet time and time again, the world is forced to notice that what takes place in Eretz Yisroel influences the entire world.

It is, nevertheless, an understatement to say that the events occurring in Eretz Yisroel are not always that pleasant.

This is because we are still in exile.

For exile is not merely a geographic condition. [4]

Quite the contrary, the fundamental dimension of exile is the blurred vision of the truth it induces. The truth is not hidden entirely, for it is impossible to obscure truth. Nevertheless, the way in which it is manifest requires substantial decoding before it can be perceived and comprehended.

This will change in the Era of the Redemption. And then the inner bond which we share with Eretz Yisroel will come into full expression. The entire Jewish people will return to Eretz Yisroel and live there in peace and prosperity [5].

Unraveling these coded messages of exile hastens the coming of the time when these codes will no longer be used.

Focusing our understanding on the truth hastens its open manifestation.

By living with the Redemption, and appreciating the true position of Eretz Yisroel, we hasten the time when "a great congregation will return there," [6] Jews from all over the world will stream to Eretz Yisroel, celebrating the coming of the Redemption.

May this take place in the immediate future.


  1. Appreciating the existence of such a connection within all of our fellow Jews will facilitate the process of communication between the different factions of the Jewish community. No group has a monopoly on genuine concern for Eretz Yisroel. When members of different factions appreciate that they share a common base of concern, they can share views easier. When such an approach is adopted, even when a consensus is not reached, the differences that remain will be between brothers.
  2. There are halachic authorities (Responsa of Rabbeinu Meir ben Baruch, Responsa 536, Otzar HaGeonim, Kiddushin, sec. 146) which state that every Jew possesses four square cubits in Eretz Yisroel. Moreover, these authorities apply certain principles of Jewish business law that are relevant only when a person owns real estate on the basis of each person's ownership of this portion of land.
  3. Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 11:4.
  4. For this reason, even Jews living in Eretz Yisroel recite "Because of our sins, we are exiled from our land..." (Festival Musaf liturgy, Siddur Tehilas HaShem, p. 258) and other prayers reflecting our desire to return from exile.
  5. See Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 11:4, 12:1,5.
  6. Jeremiah 31:8.