Included in the mitzvot that we are to do wherever we are on the globe is the mitzvah of the “Grace after Meals.” Even though we have been temporarily uprooted from our home in Israel, we are to continue to thank God for the food and for the Land of Israel, the one and only place that we are really supposed to live.
A further reason why we thank God for Eretz Yisrael and not America is because the commandment states, “When thou hast eaten and are satisfied, then thou shall bless the Lord thy God for the good Land that he has given thee” (Devarim, 8:10). God didn’t give the Jews the land of America. God gave it to the Indians until the Americans came and slaughtered them all.
The other reason why we continue to thank God for the Land of Israel is to ingrain in our psyche the centrality of the Land of Israel to the Torah and to Jewish life. Every time that we eat a meal, we are to repeat this understanding until it becomes like a mantra, implanting in our brains the eternal recognition that our one and only homeland, the place where we are to live our lives, and practice our Judaism, is Eretz Yisrael, the source of our physical and spiritual sustenance – and not France, Canada, or upon the unholy banks of Brooklyn.
Today, when the decree of exile has lifted, and every Jew can simply hop on an airplane and come back home to Israel within a few hours, our days of schizophrenia are over. Finally, a Jew can eat his meal and fulfill the mitzvah in its intended wholeness, so that when he says the grace after meals, he can say it where it was meant to be said.Tzvi Fishman
About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. His recent movie "Stories of Rebbe Nachman" will be available soon as a DVD.The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.
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