Photo Credit: Rabbi Yerachmiel Roness

Title: Aloh Na’aleh – Eretz Yisrael and Aliyah in the Weekly Parshah
By Rabbi Yerachmiel Roness



It was not that long ago that when a person would return home from a long and arduous trip to the land of Israel, they would be inundated with questions. People would want to know everything about the land and its holiness, given that travel there was a rarity. People would often return with ground from the land as a souvenir.

To a degree, the notion that familiarity breeds contempt rings true for some when it comes to Israel. They may complain that the movie selection on the non-stop flight was inadequate, their kosher meal never arrived, or the busses there didn’t run as scheduled. First-world problems, indeed. Not all people treat Israel with contempt, but familiarity can lead to an occasional lack of appreciation for the G-dly gift known as Eretz Yisrael.

Everyone sees things through their own prisms. In ArchitecTorah: Architectural Ideas in Judaism and the Weekly Torah Portion, Joshua Skarf reads the weekly parsha through the lens of an architect. In Aloh Na’aleh – Eretz Yisrael and Aliyah in the Weekly Parshah, Rabbi Yerachmiel Roness has written an excellent book focusing on Israel and all of our eventual ascents to the Holyland, through his prism of the love of the land.

Not appreciating Israel is an age-old problem. He writes that we can witness the events there without rachamim and with a jaundiced eye, focusing on what is sorely lacking there. But at the same time, we have the ability to compassionately zero in on each and every improvement and small step forward. In each parsha, he shows the importance, centrality, and beauty of the land of Israel.

Thousands of pages have been written explaining why Maimonides didn’t include dwelling in Israel in his list of 613 mitzvot. Notwithstanding that, the book shows that irrespective of whether it is a mitzvah, the land of Israel and the Torah are one. The land of Israel is central and axiomatic to the Torah and Jewish people. And he shows that connection via every weekly parsha.

Tehillim 128 says, “May the L-rd bless you from Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life.” As the book shows, there’s a lot of good to be seen in the land of Israel.

In Parshas Beha’alosecha, he writes how, at the Agudas Yisrael convention after World War II, a debate ensued as to whether the Satmar position was correct. Rabbi Itchie Meyer Levin, the son-in-law of the Gerrer rebbe, said at the convention that there was a significant contradiction in approaches. Regarding the horrors of the Holocaust, rabbinic leaders had stated that it was to be seen as an act of G-d that we cannot question. How can it be then, Levin asked, that the annihilation of the Jews is an act of G-d, while the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people in the Six-Day War is, according to Satmar, an act of Satan?

Upon hearing that, Rabbi Yakov Kaminetsky announced that he accepted the argument that the salvation of the Jewish people in the Six-Day War was unquestionably an act of G-d.

Rav Kook writes that the extraordinary qualities of the Land of Israel and the exceptional qualities of the Jewish people are two halves of a whole. Not that we need proof for Rav Kook’s observation, but in Aloh Na’aleh, he makes that eminently clear.

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