This is my native country - is it true?

Even the Patriarch Abraham's homeland was not Israel, so what was his connection with the land - and ours today?

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol ,

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
INN: Daniel Malichi

When we were shlichim in the United States, we would conduct activities for Israeli "yordim" (Israelis who live out of the Holy Land) as well as Americans. In one of the activities we sang the song "Here is My home. Here is Where I Was Born". The yordim changed the words to "Here is My Home, There is Where I Was Born." But despite the comfortable life that most of them had "here at home", in personal conversations we heard about a lot of pain that accompanies them, and a lot of longing for "where I was born."

Is the Land of Israel really our homeland?

The simple answer is: Of course, the Land of Israel is the homeland of every Jew! But if we look at the parsha we find that things are more complex.

When the Jews participate in the sin of the spies, their speech seems to indicate that their connection to the land of Egypt is much stronger than their connection to the land of Israel. And it would appear that they are correct in their thinking. The reality is that their native land, the land in which they were born, is the land of Egypt! The land of Israel is foreign to them !

Those who were born in the Land of Israel and felt that Israel is their native land were “the giant’s offspring". The Jews just want to turn around and go back to their home – Egypt.

And if we go back in time as far as the first Jew, Avraham Avinu, we will find that even for him the Land of Israel is not a homeland as he was born in Ur Casdim (present day Iraq).

So if the Land of Israel is not actually our homeland, what connects us to the Land of Israel? There are two types of bonds that can connect a nation and a country:

A "Here I Was Born" connection. This connection seems deep but it can be accidental. There can be many reasons why a person was born in a certain place. It does not always express a true connection to the country. But there is a much deeper connection between a people and a land, a connection that results from an internal bond between a place and its inhabitants. And this is the connection between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel.

The Divine order for the people of Israel to live in Eretz Yisrael shows an essential and intrinsic connection between a holy people and a holy land, through the holy Torah and its commandments. It is a relationship that is less built on history, and much more on the present and visions of the future.

And because this special connection between the people of Israel and Eretz Yisrael is future-oriented, it does not only belong to the "Sabras" born here, but it belongs to every single Jew in all of the Diaspora. Your right and duty to live here are just as equal to those who are already living here in our beloved country.

Our brothers and sisters who are scattered around the world: we love you, we care for you and we pray for you always, even when you are “there” because "our brothers are our flesh" and together we hope and believe that you will join us here – in the Land of Israel and in the State of Israel, because even if this is not your native land, the future of us all is here. We need you here, so that together we can fulfill the vision of Am Yisrael.

And our mission, the “Israelis”, is to welcome you with open arms, with great appreciation for your courageous decision, and of your willingness and to accept all the great good that you bring with you.