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The Gift of Israel
Chief Editor's Blog

The Gift of Israel

Why I’m fortunate to be living in Israel.

by

Seth Godin isn’t a rabbi, but the prolific author, entrepreneur and founder of permission marketing has a lot of insightful and inspiring points in his book Linchpin that overlap with Jewish wisdom. It was one of the best mussar shmoozes (inspirational talks) I’ve been privy to in a while.

One of the chapters of his book begins with this graphic:

Didn’t.

Period.

We may have all the rationalizations and reasons that explain why we haven’t done that dream project, but that’s all they are – rationalizations to get us off the hook from taking the scary plunge.

That graphic summed up so perfectly what happened to the idea of writing a blog for Aish.com. The Aish.com team has bounced this idea around for years (yes, years) of having an editor’s blog that would discuss a whole hodge-podge of issues – controversies related to the site, perspectives on issues facing the Jewish world, applying Jewish wisdom to contemporary life, and to also give a human face behind the Aish.com machine.

But every time I set out to start, the objections in the back of my head poured forth: no one will be interested, you don’t have the time, what do you really have to say anyway?

Well, that inner voice may be right – but it’s usually dead wrong. In the words of Seth Godin, “Fight the resistance.” This is your lizard brain [aka the yetzer hara] talking. Don’t give him an inch.

So I am embarking on this blog; I view it as an opportunity to start a conversation with Aish.com readers. Feel free to comment, argue, and let me know what you think, and I will appreciate any questions or comments you have about content and videos up on the site. I read all the comments that are submitted to the site.

Our Home, Israel

Next week is Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, and it got me thinking about why I am grateful to be living in Israel and all the reasons that I connected with centered around the idea that Israel is our home.

Remember that feeling when you were a kid of coming home after school knowing that your mom and dad will be there, to shelter you, love you, console you. You’re home, under your parents’ protective wings. I don’t know if everyone will relate to this idea, but living in Israel is like living in the Almighty’s home. You can feel His presence more easily here. You’re not alone. He’s right here. (It helps to have your office overlook the Kotel, but not essential.) The spiritual connection is so palpable here.

Home is where everyone is family. We all feel connected since the barber, the grocery clerk, the taxi driver – they’re all your Jewish brothers and sisters. So we argue, we care, we pray for each other, we get involved. Complete strangers on the bus will tell you what you need to be doing differently in raising your child. The informality can sometimes be viewed as chutzpah but it’s really an expression of familial bonds.

Home means this is where I belong. Nothing is foreign to me. In Israel the rhythms of daily life are Jewish. The entire country is clearing out chametz and eating matzah on Passover. The language of my people is being spoken. My kids can grow up not knowing who Santa Claus is. I don’t feel that I am raising my kids submerged in a foreign, corrosive culture. I’m not naïve – I realize Israel isn’t a perfect place and my kids are not living in a bubble, but you can’t compare the billboards in Jerusalem to the billboards in Los Angeles and New York.

And home is where you plant your roots and invest for the long term. It’s where we are building the future of the Jewish people. And it’s not one of those new pre-fab homes in the suburbs; it’s our ancestral home we are building. Living in Israel you are surrounded by Jewish history. It’s so much easier to vividly feel the wheels of Jewish destiny churning, moving forward as we work to fulfill our national mission of being a light unto nations. Living here forces me to ask myself what I am personally contributing to the Jewish People. It’s where Jewish history and Jewish destiny come to life.

These are some of thoughts I’ll be feeling on Yom HaAtzmaut as I appreciate the precious gift and enormous challenge the Almighty has given us by living in our homeland.

I’m just scratching the surface here. In the comment section below, include your reasons for appreciating Israel.

Published: April 29, 2014


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Visitor Comments: 23

(18) Brian A.Donnelly, May 13, 2014 10:52 AM

From Sydney to Jerusalem.

As a devout Christian, and therefore a staunch supporter of Israel and the jewish people, I am overjoyed with the reality of visiting Israel for the first time in July this year ( 5774 ).
I am excited because I know this is where G-d's chosen people are meant to be living and carrying out G-d's plan for the World.
Over the years I have been associated with groups such as Christians for Israel - this wonderful organisation puts into action G-d's imperative to both "comfort ye, comfort ye My people" and has helped many thousands make Aliyah.
I also feel the real need that Israel has to support and sustain those many thousands that have been obedient to G-d's command and returned 'home to Israel'. I am in total admiration for the many grass roots organisations that are dedicating themselves to helping this transition become a reality.
I would like to encourage all of your readers by assuring them that there are already large numbers of Goyim, like me, and these numbers are growing, who "get it" and feel blessed to be able to help in some small way to make G-d's eternal plan happen that much sooner.
Please look for me as we walk the streets of Jerusalem for those 2 weeks during July and know that we love you and care for you.
Shalom.

(17) Yehudit, May 7, 2014 5:40 AM

Israel is my HOMEAND !

Israel is my HOMELAND ! I've been there only two times, but the holiness in the air and the closeness to HaShem I felt so very strongly! The first time I went to the Kotel I cried from joy and overwhelming emotion that I was Home at last! Alas, it was just for a visit, but I still have the memories and feelings of Israel in me constantly. I love Israel greatly. Like I said, Israel is my Homeland, and I'll never forget the feelings.

(16) Beverly Kurtin, May 4, 2014 3:29 AM

Would be nice but...

It is a shame that people who were young when Israel was founded are now, well, more mature. Okay, we're OLD(er). I understand that. We're supposed to have made enough and saved enough to afford to set foot in Israel. Well, I did! And then in 2008...my life's savings went down the tubes along with millions of others'.
Now, there are trips for young people to go to Israel and that is wonderful. Alas, for those of us who don't have the wherewithal to afford a ticket to fly there, although maybe I could afford to fly from Texas to perhaps...okay, to Oklahoma...but I'll have to parachute out over Ardmore which is just a tad north of the Red River.
The fact that so many of us will never get to visit or make Aliah.
It is understandable that Israel isn't in a position to bring a bunch of people who can't even afford a ticket to the country. They have enough problems and I respect that. Still, I was only seven when Israel was founded, so I do feel left out at times.
My main concern is that the United States is no longer a democracy; it has become an oligarchy over the past few years. Our so-called "representatives" no longer listen to the American people, they listen only to the people who can pour millions of dollars into their coffers. The far religious and political right are increasingly in the fore. Unless the American people pull us back to the center or to the left, this country is ripe for becoming a fascist state. If that does happen, it won't augur well for us Jews--it never does.
I pray I am wrong, wrong, wrong. But history leans that way.
As President Lincoln said, "At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." We ARE committing national suicide.

(15) Anonymous, May 3, 2014 3:22 AM

i pray soon to return to Yisrael

You are bless to be living in Yisrael close to Ha Shem.

(14) Katie, May 2, 2014 9:34 PM

Although I am not Jewish, I read your website daily (I am so hooked on it!) I would love to visit Israel and hope to do so in the next few years. I have often wondered how it would feel to live in the actual site where The Almighty spoke His first words to the Jewish nation. It is definitely a challege raising a family when so much darkness surrounds us.

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