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    The air of Israel – Lech L’cha

    land-of-israelThe sidra opens with the command to our ancestor to leave his homeland and go to Eretz Yisra’el.

    The command echoes through Jewish history. So many generations dreamed the impossible dream with no way of carrying it out. It would have saved countless millions of Jews to have lived in and be fortified by the Holy Land.

    Had more been able and encouraged to settle in Israel, the toll of the Holocaust would have been less.

    Baruch HaShem, things changed and now Aliyah is possible, not just because Israel is where Jews feel at home but because, in Yehudah HaLevi’s words, “The air of this land is the air of the soul”.

    Beautiful poetry, but how do we answer those who come to Israel and find it has postal delays, traffic jams, fouled streets, and all the other drawbacks that you find everywhere? How can anyone call it the Holy Land when there is political wrangling and economic corruption like the other nations?

    None of these problems is imaginary. Life really is “normal”. What makes it different is the specialness within the normality.

    People really do care about each other, people really do feel for one another, people really do try for excellence, people really do feel ashamed when things don’t meet up to ethical standards.

    Religion and Torah learning are the agenda even of the supposed secular people. The holiness of the Holy Land is not rarefied but part of daily living.

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