Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Tammuz 5766 - June 28, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Volume One

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach
Reviewed by Home and Family Editor

The Jewish Learning Library, a project of Ohr Somayach International,

presents, in conjunction with Targum Press

The Gladstone Edition, 117 pp

You've heard the one about two grandmothers on the park bench, babysitting their beloved grandchildren, pointing out their endearing qualities and expressing polite mutual admiration.

"Well, if you think they're cute," says one with clinching logic, "you should see their photographs!"

It would be sacrilegious to compare such sentiments with the true inborn, even genetic love of Eretz Yisroel which every Jew has nursed in his heart ever since Hashem's commandment to Avrohom Avinu to go forth and wander, without a definite road map, to where his heart leads him, under Divine guidance.

Our Love of the Land accompanies us morning and evening, through all of our prayers, as we face eastward and align them with our Jerusalem compass. In fact, it is interesting to note that an enterprising, scientific-minded young Kollel student in Jerusalem has recently come up with a unique prayer compass, already being marketed for seasoned travelers, which points to Jerusalem from any spot on the globe!

The Love of the Land Gladstone deluxe edition is a coffee table centerpiece, a gift item, to expand the hearts of Jews with Love of the Land, wherever they are, even in Jerusalem. It spreads before us full-page panoramas, scenic tableau, artistic photography of breathtaking views to swell the heart. Poignant messages very effectively complement them in evoking a deep love and admiration for the Creator, Who poured forth measures upon measures of beauty in creating a Promised Land for His Chosen Children.

Where was all this lush green, this dazzling kaleidescope of color, which is laid before the viewer/reader, during two milennia of exile? Was it only toil and water that made the desert bloom after all that desolation? Why is it that no other nation — and conquerers there were many — was able to coax life out of the barren hills and plains, through all those years of foreign occupation?

The answer is simple: Hashem preserved this beauty for His children, and once they returned, their (and His) Love of the Land helped make it bloom. Witness the miracle of Gush Katif, before, after, and after-again, without going into politics. Not even a month after the evacuation, the Palestinians were unable to persuade growth from the same sands that had supplied an entire Jewish world with bug-free produce.

The eye feasts and the soul soars with the messages in this book, succinct — so as not to compete with the full- color visual effect — but powerful geography-history- hashkofoh lessons, most of them from Talmudic sources, many familiar, many, eye-openers. Let us step into a page or two . . .

Photo: A rolling, grassy slope dotted by humble olive trees.

Message: "The touching scene of Jews kissing the earth upon their arrival in Eretz Yisroel has its roots in the words of King David and in the actions of our Talmudic Sages. Rabbi Abba kissed the rocks at the port of Acco. Rabbi Chiya bar Gamda rolled in the dust of the Land. Rabbi Chanina went even further by repairing the roads so that his beloved country would not have a bad reputation with those who traveled upon them (Kesubos 112)."

We turn the pages to . . .

Photo: A stream, gurgling (yes, you can hear it) over a rocky bed, inviting the reader to plunge into history.

Message: "Gilgal — the first korbon Pesach in the Land We Love

"Although you will find nothing on the map or in geography books about the place, it was the most important site in the first years of the Nation of Israel in Eretz Yisroel. Here is where the Israelites, under Yehoshua, camped after their miraculous crossing of the Jordan River and here is where they placed the twelve large stones which they had removed from the river bed to serve as a remembrance for generations of that miracle (Yehoshua 4:20)."

Why is the Land so good? The Torah tells us that "one of the rivers flowing out of Eden is described as encircling Eretz Yisroel `where there is gold and the gold of that land is good' (Bereishis 2:11-12).

"The gold here refers to the words of Torah which are more precious than gold itself . . . It teaches us that there is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisroel and no wisdom like the wisdom of Eretz Yisroel'" (Bereishis Rabbah 16:4).

Inlay this gem-message on a background montage of golden sands and you have a visual-spiritual tour de force.

In the second section, "Lessons of the Land," we learn about the little known city of Azeikah mentioned in the Talmud, about Mount Tavor and why it made a plea to have the Torah given on it — and why the plea was rejected. We visit the bibilical Shiloh, Tekoa, Ein Dor and learn about their historical significance, and . . .

Better yet, buy the book for yourself, give it to those who will surely appreciate it; learn, see, experience and cherish the Love of the Land for yourselves.


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