A Soldier's Connection
"It is an honor to live in and defend the holiest place on earth."
Rav Noach Weinberg once said, “Find what you’re willing to die for and that’s what you should live for.” I’ve thought a lot about that quote in my life. What is it that I’m willing to die for? What do I love more than anything in the entire world? The answer has always been my family, and as an extension, the Jewish people and Eretz Yisroel. The Sefarim HaKedoshim teaches us that the body of the Jewish collective soul is the Land of Israel. Ironically, I write this the day after Tisha B'av on a plane to America. As I write, I am thinking about the entire reason the Jewish people have Tisha B'av. We are taught that if the Meraglim had given a positive report about the land then there would have been no suffering. We must ask, then why didn’t they? The Lubavitcher Rebbe gives the answer that in the desert it was a wholly spiritual life. Food rained down from the heavens, there was a pillar of fire, prophecy- Pure spirituality. Entering Eretz Yisroel would force the Jewish people to bring the spirituality into the physical land -war, conflict conquering. How could that be spiritual? The answer is that according to the Midrash Tanchuma in Parshas Naso, the entire purpose of creation is to bring spirituality into the physical world. This is why the tzaddikim teach us that Eretz Yisroel is the body and the soul of the Jewish people. According to Rashi, in order for the Meraglim to not be noticed while they were scouting out the land, Hashem made funerals to distract all of the local inhabitants. The Meraglim, upon giving their report, thought the land was killing its inhabitants. ״ארץ אוכלת יושביה״ that the land eats its inhabitants. Rav Nachman of Breslov teaches this in a positive note. He says that this is the essence of the land of Israel. Everything that is physical becomes consumed in the holy land. The mundane becomes spiritual. We are able to elevate every aspect of our lives. Even the most physical aspects such as an army. The Pele Yoetz writes in his section on Eretz Yisroel, מצוה גדולה על”הבנים להשתדל בכל מאדם ובכל נפשם למעבד נייח רוחא (לעשות נחת רוח) לאביהם ולאמהם להסיעם לארץ ישראל כי כבוד זה גדול מאלפי זהב וכסף.” It is a great mitzvah for the sons to try with all of their might and all of their soul to give pride to their parents by coming to the land of Israel because this honor is greater than all of the worlds riches. I was privileged to move to Israel and do my part defending our land. It is an honor to live in and defend the holiest place on earth.