planting in Eretz Yisrael
planting in Eretz YisraelCorurtesy

After the destruction of the First Temple, when the Jews were exiled from the Land of Hashem they invented a new religion and called it Judaism - the ISM of the outcasts of Judah which was the shell of the Torah without the Land of Israel. In a matter of decades, under the influence of the gentile culture around them, Judaism morphed into Babylonianism.

The Prophets Ezra and Nechemiah tried to return the Jews to Eretz Yisrael and true Torah, but the great majority of Babylonian Jews weren't interested, preferring the comforts of Babylon and their watered-down version of Babylonianism. And so it remained until today when we have Diaspora Harediism, Chabadism, Modern Orthodoxism and the other branches of Jewish life without the most important part of it, the Land of Israel. The only difference is that today Babylonianism has become Americanism and Francism and Australianism and UKism - all of which can be categorized under the general heading of Materialism.

Now that Hashem has given us the State of Israel and welcomed us back to His Land, the lovers of the Diaspora cling to gentile lands, not because of the Rambam, or the Rebbe, or because of Rabbi Feinstein or the Mashiach, or any other halakhic excuse, but because of Materialism, Geltism, Good-Lifeism, Bocaism and California Dreaming. As Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi noted in "The Kuzari" almost a thousand years ago, "Next Year in Jerusalem" has become the "chattering of nightingales."

Living in Israel, one is privileged to observe the commandments binding only in the Holy Land, thus connecting its fruits to our Creator and our fellow man.

And during our festive Tu B’Shvat meal, we eat the seven species of fruits of the Land in a special order based on the Torah verse, “A Land of wheat, and barley, and grapevines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a Land of olive oil, and date honey….” (Devarim 8:8). For instance, after partaking bread (wheat and barley) and wine (grapevines) because of their importance, we first eat the species of fruit that is closest to the word “Land” – which is olives.

In a similar light, Rabbi Kook writes that the person who is more engaged in the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel is closer to perfection and first in receiving a Divine blessing. Similarly, our Sages have taught us, “The mitzvah of living in Israel is equal in weight to all of the commandments in the Torah,” (Sifre, Reah, 80).

Happy Tu B'Shvat. Come home.