by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
What is so special about the Land Of Israel? According to the Rambam,[i] a slave who is living outside the Land can force his master to come live in the Land. He writes that this is true even today during this time of exile. The accepted halacha (applicable Torah law) rules that once you are in the Land, there are only four reasons that you are allowed to leave, even temporarily. These reasons are: 1) if you cannot find a proper Torah teacher, 2) if you cannot find a proper spouse, 3) to escape invaders, or 4) if you cannot earn a proper livelihood.[ii] It seems to me that we can add one more good reason for leaving: if leaving the Land will enable you to help Jews who otherwise would not be helped. If you are the only one who will help them, then this is also a valid reason for leaving. So again, we have to ask, what is so special about this Land?
G-d assigned various lands to various nations. These lands are their inheritance. This small, special land, the Land of Israel, He promised to give to the descendants of Abraham and Sarah. This is our inheritance forever. It is special to us just because it is ours. It is also special because it is a beautiful land, but there are many beautiful lands in the world. So besides being ours, what makes it so unique?
When you live in your own land you thrive both physically and spiritually. This is simply the natural result of being where you belong. But this Land is called the Land of the Prophets. This not only means that the prophets came from this land, which they did, it means that living in the Land actually made them into prophets. Taking just four steps in the Land increases our spiritual awareness. The sages say that whoever walks even four steps in the Land is guaranteed a share in the World to Come.[iii] And this spiritual benefit increases with every additional four steps you take. But, since this increase in awareness increases so subtly, most people are not aware of it. It is like sitting in a pond of water while the temperature increases a quarter of a degree. You would have to pay strict attention to be aware of it.
However, even if you do not notice anything startling while you are here, you will notice it when you leave. As soon as you walk out of the airport in that other land, you will ask yourself, “What’s missing here?” Unless you are sensitive, you will shrug off the feeling, thinking that it is due to the cultural change. Then you will run after your daily business, wondering if you really did feel anything different in the Holy Land.
When you touch a holy object in a significant way, some of that holiness spreads to you.[iv] How much more so is this true when you live in the Holy Land? Here you are not merely touching a holy object, you are living in it.
Soon, in just a few years, for the first time in 2,000 years, the majority of the Jewish people in the world will be living in the Land of Israel. This will not only be a unique physical milestone in the long history of the Jewish People, but it will also bring about a significant spiritual change. As the holiness of the Land spreads to more and more Jews, the level of spiritual awareness in the Land will increase. This increased holiness will be experienced more openly, and it will even overflow and go out into the rest of the world. As it is today, the spiritual awareness will be experienced most vividly in Jerusalem. But to a lesser degree, it will spread and touch the entire world.
What does this mean today? It means that there is a guaranteed way for each of us to increase our spiritual opportunity. Simply walk four steps in the Holy Land.
[i] Rambam Hilchos Avodim 8:9
[ii] Rambam Hilchos Melachim 5:9
[iii] Gemora Ketubos 111a
[iv] Leviticus 6:11
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא