Come and Possess the Land!

Come and Possess the Land!


In Parshat Ekev 8:1 we read: “The entire commandment (mitzvah) that I command you today you shall observe to perform so that you may live and increase and come to possess the Land that God swore to your forefathers”.


According to the Ramban in Vayikra 18:25: The essence of all of the Mitzvot is that they be performed in the Land of Israel.


Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook points out that according to the Chafetz Chayim the Mitzvot performed outside of Israel have only 1/20 of the value of those performed in the Land of Israel.


Rabbi David Samson and Tzvi Fishman in their book “Lights On Orot”- The Teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak HaCohen Kook explain that the Land of Israel is the only place on earth where the Torah can be observed in all of its fullness (Kuzari 2:14). The mitzvoth which we perform outside of Israel are only reminders until we can return to Israel to observe them properly (Sifre Ekev 11:18). Outside the Land of Israel the mitzvoth have an educational value but the Torah repeatedly tells us that the Land of Israel is the place for their performance.


This week marks five years since I packed up my life and made aliya with my husband Josh and our sons Dov and Moshe. We felt that we wanted to take our mitzvah observance a step further and have the opportunity to observe the mitzvoth that we were already performing in a more meaningful way in the Land of Israel as well as take on mitzvoth that can only be observed by those who are living in the Land of Israel- Mitavot HaTluyot BaAretz.


Living in Israel for five years, I have found that some mitzvoth are easier to observe here. Let’s take Kashrut for example. Kosher food is everywhere in Yerusahalayim. However, you still have to watch out for fake kashrut certificates as well as make sure that the mitzvoth of Terumot, Maasrot and Shmitah are being observed- mitzvoth that are only observed in the Land of Israel.


Observing Shabbat is also easier in Jerusalem with many synagogues to choose from and many places of business are closed on both Friday and Shabbat. I remember the days in New York when I had to work until half an hour before Shabbat and then rush home in order to get Shabbat ready on time. However, what we could still use in Israel is a Sunday that is not a regular work/ school day.


Although it may not always be easy to live in Israel, it is an honor to have the opportunity to come and possess the Land that God swore to our forefathers.