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.