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Parshat Behukotai: Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael

In prayer

Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90.

Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael are inseparably connected in a bond so tight they even share the same name. Our deep spiritual connection to our country – like the connection of the soul to the body – transcends all rational human understandings. Our soil is an intrinsic part of who we are and the foundation for our national mission in this world as neither we nor it can attain full expression devoid of the other. Without the Jewish Nation, the land is doomed to desolation (as was the case for nearly two thousand years). Similarly, the Jews outside our borders are not the essential Hebrew Nation but rather a deformed shadow of our true inner potential – a wandering people miraculously able to hold on to our individual “Judaism” without possessing any tangible concept of nationhood. But when properly situated in our ancestral homeland, Israel becomes the healthy living nation that brings the knowledge and blessing of HaShem to mankind.

The Maharal of Prague teaches in Netzach Yisrael that like the orbits of the planets in space and the importance of oxygen for human beings, Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael is a natural necessity inherent in Creation. When Israel is living in and sovereign over our homeland, the entire world becomes healthy. The heart of humanity is in place and able to channel Divine life and blessing to all existence. Israel’s temporary separation from out native soil has stood in opposition to the very laws of nature. Like a ball thrown up in the air that must come down, Am Yisrael must return to independence within our borders. Nature corrects itself as we return home and the Torah now aspires – for the first time in nearly two thousand years – to be lived and expressed on a national level that infuses kedusha into every sphere of life. And as nature corrects itself and history progresses forward, Israel’s rebirth advances towards the redemption of humankind.

About the Author: Yehuda HaKohen teaches history at several Jerusalem institutions and is a seasoned activist for indigenous rights in the Middle East and a vocal opponent of attempts to shrink Israel's borders. Yehuda organizes grassroots Jewish-Arab dialogue meetings for the purpose of fostering mutual acceptance and understanding.


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