Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Reconnecting with the Land of Israel

Last night I had the distinct privilege of visiting some friends who live in Sde Boaz, a newly established Jewish community just outside of Neve Daniel in Gush Etzion.

I want to share some special things that I noticed about Sde Boaz:

* Sde Boaz is situated on one of the highest points in Israel, and as such, one can see for miles (kilometers) in every direction. There are likely few better places in Israel from where one can take in so much of the Land of Israel - and I believe that it is for this reason that this area was frequented by our forefathers.

* Sde Boaz is surrounded by beautiful hills and valleys full of nature. The air is crisp, cool and fresh. With every breath that one inhales, he is cleansing his body, both in a physical sense, as well as spiritually, as the very air seems to have a mystical quality to it.

I had the opportunity to visit the spring just outside of Sde Boaz (which has goldfish in it), and to eat figs right off the trees that surround Sde Boaz. This had an added signifigance, as figs are one of the 7 species special to the Land of Israel, and as such, I got to also make a Shehechiyanu blessing on the fruit (as I had not had one in quite some time), thanking G-d for having blessed me with the opportunity to partake of the fruit of His chosen land, the Land of Israel, as a proud Jew, who had returned home.

* Sde Boaz, home to about 25 people, is full of both religious and secular Jews, new immigrants and native Israelis, who live together with a shared love for the Jewish People and the Land of Israel and the desire to live in a Jewish State.

* Sde Boaz is not surrounded by any fences (that would otherwise restrict the natural growth of the community), and all work that is done in the community is done through Jewish labor.


* Sde Boaz also happens to be, in the eyes of the world, and some in Israel, an illegal outpost which the State of Israel has committed itself to remove.

* Sde Boaz is considered to be an illegal outpost even though it is built on state owned land (via the Jewish National Fund) that was purchased through money that was collected by our grandparents, who stood on street corners holding the small, blue JNF tzedaka boxes, in order that Jews would be able to live anywhere in the Land of Israel.

Illegal outposts like Sde Boaz are communities full of some of the most wonderful Jews around, modern day pioneers who believe in working the land and in building new Jewish communities throughout the Land of Israel, Jews who do not apologize for believing in the right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel - and who are committed to this ideal not merely in word but in physical deed, Jews who are willing to live with less material comfort, but whose lives are full of a richness that money simply can't buy.

Even for one who lives in Israel like myself, it is easy, in the course of day-to-day living, to have one's physical connection to the Land of Israel become a bit removed. Thankfully, last night, I was able to recharge my batteries. There is just something special about walking through the hills and valleys of the Land of Israel, eating the fruits of the land right off the tree, and doing so with my fellow Jewish brothers and sisters who also have chosen to make Aliyah and build their lives in the Jewish homeland.

Next time one hears of the need for Israel to remove these illegal outposts, consider the following:

* Is it really the presence of communities like Sde Boaz and the Jews who live there that are standing in the way of peace with the Arabs?

* Are the values of self-sacrifice and dedication towards one's fellow Jews and to the Land of Israel, as well as the value of a Jew to being able to live anywhere in the Land of Israel as a proud Jew - the very foundations upon which communities like Sde Boaz are built upon - are these values that we want to remove from our society?

* Ask yourself what exactly an illegal outpost is. Can it really be illegal - a crime - for a Jew to live, build and settle in the Jewish Homeland?

* If one believes in the right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, will removing these communities serve to strengthen or weaken our claim to the Land of Israel?

Think about it.


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