Yshai Amichai
Yshai AmichaiCourtesy

When most people think of the Garden of Eden, they think of a well-watered paradise with all types of trees and plants, with all sorts of exotic but harmless animals, and where food is plentiful and free for the taking.

Such a selective reading of Genesis 2 recalls scenes from the Amazon rainforest, of half-naked men, and of a pre-historic hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but it very clearly misses the bigger picture of what is described.

The Garden of Eden was God’s Garden, a place where mankind could live with Him, in His Presence, and that was its main distinction, which made it a heaven on earth. Ever since mankind was expelled from Eden, people have been wanting to return to it, but for all the wrong reasons. They have been seeking the Tree of Life, the gold, and the bountiful paradise, but they have neglected to search for the place where God is Ever-Present and where His Presence is clearly evident.

The Garden of Eden was likely washed away in the flood, and it is a thing of the past, but it has been replaced by something else. That place is Israel, a Land which God Gazes upon all year round, and Jerusalem, the Place He Chose to Rest His Name.

Sound familiar? God’s Garden has been replaced with God’s Land and the Tree of Life has been replaced with the House of God, but we were expelled from them as well, and we have desired for ages to return.

We have been placed on the good earth to partake of its delights and to bask in God’s Light, but the end goal of life is to return to God. Our souls cannot part from Him for too long without feeling neglected, and deep inside we constantly yearn for His Presence, which is why we have Israel.

We have been banished from Eden, but our feet may carry us to Israel. We have strayed far away and for so long, but we may return this very day. We have tarried till now, but the end is nigh, and God awaits us in Israel.

The story of our journey could be summed up in such a way that you would find our paths completely out of place. We left Eden in the East and then we came to Israel. All our thousands of years of wandering in between were but a mistake. We left God and then we returned to Him. There should be nothing else to say.

You may think that you are doing something great. Perhaps you are searching for Eden. In every new place of opportunity that you encounter you declare to yourself, ‘paradise found,’ until the illusion of its grandeur withers within the flickering lights of your doom.

So I will save you the hassle and help you cut to the chase. What you are really seeking in all of your wanderings away from God, is your return to Him. Like a child who fears he is not worthy, you have been speaking to your Father and testing Him inconclusively, and now is the time to stop beating around the bush. A clear path has been paved for you to Israel and you may walk it with confidence, knowing that it leads directly to God.

Now more than ever, with the Day of Atonement approaching, is the time to consider this. What have you truly been seeking all these years, if not meaning? On the day that you stop foraging for food and stop eating and drinking, stop thinking about the mundane things in life and start focusing on the bigger picture. Once your mouth has been fed and you are satiated, what is it that you truly lack in exile?

I will help you connect the dots and draw a straight line between you and Israel that will bring you and your people closer to God. Eden was a place of the past, so quit distracting yourself with illusions of paradise. Your future paradise is in Israel. Paradise is the place closest to God.

Yshai Amichai made Aliyah from Los Angeles in 2001, settling in Israel, where he met his wife and where they raise their six children. He may be contacted at: [email protected]