A few months ago, before the previous Israeli elections, I wrote a somewhat light-hearted, but hopeful scenario about Messianic possibilities. Alas, it was not yet to be. It seems, however, that we’ve now been given a second chance to try and get things right. Since each new opportunity in life is a step forward in God’s Heavenly plans, perhaps this new, unforeseen (and I admit, somewhat unwelcome) election will lead to more positive and lasting results.
Meanwhile, our poor country and government (or lack of) is being inundated with a massive onslaught of “politica.” We are drowning in dire, disastrous, demoralizing and discouraging forecasts. (Why do so many defeatist words begin with the letter “d”?)
I therefore feel it incumbent upon myself to stand up and reiterate for all to hear that according to recent worldwide polls, Israelis are among the happiest, most content people in the western world. This highly surprising state of affairs permeates the lives of the majority of the people living in the Holy Land. God-fearing Jews feel additionally grateful, blissful and blessed here. Even our many backpacking, post-army kids exploring India and South America have left their hearts in safe keeping back home. This, despite the politics, the military, the economy and all the other uncertainties we contend with.
How does all of this affect me personally? Well, each and every morning I take a deep breath and go out to inspect the flowers I so lovingly planted on my porch. I eagerly examine each new bud, blossom and leaf. In an effort to protect my nascent garden, like a living scarecrow I constantly and obsessively shoo away the pigeons and myna birds that invade my green spaces.
What’s so special about my flowers? Even though they may not be particularly breathtaking or exotic, they are a source of great spiritual pleasure to me simply because they are mine… the work of my hands. Flowers and animals and plants grow all around the world, but my flowers, on my porch, in my country are exceedingly special. They are my very own holy garden in the Holy Land, thus making me a partner with God in the on-going work of Binyan HaAretz.
Shakespeare already informed us that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Nothing can compete with that which we love, which is our own. Think of children. There is no doubt in my mind that my grandchildren are the most beautiful, intelligent, delightful grandchildren around. Other people might think that their grandchildren fit that description but I know better (although I don’t say so out loud…). Which just goes to prove that a loving eye sees things differently.
That’s why I know for a fact that the trees, fields, hills, mountains, rivers, streams, landscapes, cities, in God’s (and my) Promised Land are the loveliest, most perfect, most pleasing ones that exist. I know the Rockies and the Alps are higher; the Nile and the Mississippi rivers longer and wider; jungles in South America more lush and deserts in Africa more fearsome. I know that incredible plant and animal life exist in other places.
But no sky is more sheltering; no sun brighter or more life-sustaining; no air purer and more invigorating than the sun, sky, and air in the Holy Land. And nowhere does the Shechina, like a laser beam, flow more directly from the Upper Spheres down to this world than it does in our Divinely-blessed borders. We are the focal point for Heaven.
If you think I am being ridiculously idealistic or starry eyed, you are absolutely correct. But if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and love flows from the heart of the lover, a Jew can be forgiven for being irrationally in love with our Father in Heaven, our Creator, our Shield, our Bridegroom. And if we spurn or do not sufficiently treasure the two incomparable gifts our Father has given us – His Torah and His Land – than who are we and what exactly do we value?
So please forgive me for believing that my flowers (and grandchildren!), my country and my Land are all absolutely incomparable. They exist in a different dimension than other flowers and hills and skies and countries (maybe even grandchildren?). Unless, of course, those others are also privileged to live here in God’s Land.
A Jew is programmed to see and hear these things; they are engraved in our DNA. We are programmed to love this Land. Let us not be like the idols who “…have a mouth speak but speak not; eyes, but see not. Ears that do not hear, a nose which cannot smell. Their hands feel naught, their feet cannot walk” (Tehillim 115).
Meanwhile, don’t let election news get you down. The media deals primarily with human endeavors, our way of trying to build a better world. But in the end, it is God’s Will that will be done. And it is His Will that His sons and daughters come home. So with or without new elections, Eretz Yisrael is waiting and welcoming.
Think of the Shalosh Regalim. Three times a year we “walked” up to Jerusalem. A Jew votes with his head and his heart… and with his feet.