The Land of Israel and Birkat HaMazon (Grace After Meals)

Rabbi Dov Ber, the Magid of Mezrich taught that it is more important to have kavana, intense concentration, during birkat hamazon, grace after meals, than during tefilla, prayer (aside from the Shma). His reasoning is that birkat hamazon is deoraita, a mitzvah from the Torah while prayer (aside from the shma) is derabanan, a mitzvah instituted by the Rabbis.

The Gemara in Brachot 21a asks "From where in the Torah do we derive the obligation to recite Birkat HaMazon?" The answer is from the pasuk in Parshat Ekev, Dvarim 8:10: Veachalta vesavata uveirachta et Hashem elokecha al haaretz hatova asher natan lach, You shall eat and be satisfied and bless your God for the good land that He gave you.

Every time that we thank God for our food, we must also praise God for the land of Israel. Why is the land of Israel such an integral part of Birkat Hamazon?

1. Just like God doesn't want us to take the food for granted, He also doesn't want us to take the land of Israel for granted. Israel should constantly be appreciated.

2. Israel is the place where the most mitzvoth can be observed in the best possible way.

3. Israel has great produce that we should appreciate. Israel is a land of milk and honey and
the land of the seven species wheat, barley, grapes, fig, pomegranate, olive-oil and date-honey. It still excites me to walk in Jerusalem and see trees with the seven species.

4. Through the blessing of Israel, the whole world becomes blessed.

The next time you finish a meal, instead of rushing through, try to put more kavana into birkat hamazon. I hope and pray that the words with which we end birkat hamazon will speedily be fulfilled.

Hashem Oz LeAmo Yiten, Hashem Yivarech et Amo Bashalom, God will give strength to his people, God will bless his people with peace.