Rav Kook points out that just as most of the tree is roots, trunk, branches and leaves, despite the fact that the goal is the fruit, similarly most of life is preparations (e.g. eating, dress, work, cooking, raising children), and often one doesn't even achieve his goal. Does that mean that he wasted his life?! The basic question is, if most of life is "tree", and I want to have meaning in life, I have no choice but to find a way to have "taste" in the tree, not just in the fruit. This was the original plan in Eden, and is meant to be the ideal lifestyle, as expressed in the Etrog where the tree tastes like her fruit. Eretz Yisrael is likened to Sukkot, where even the secular/mundane/"tree" has meaning/taste/holiness, and it's all a mitzva.
Why is it that throughout history, from Avraham Avinu, to Egypt, to the M'raglim, to the time of Ezra, and until today, most Jews don't want to make aliya? This sharp question, pertinent to this very day, will davka help us understand the secret and the beauty of Eretz Yisrael! Aliya is not just a problem of having "guts", but even the most motivated religious-Zionists who intend to and would like to make aliya, deep down have difficulty believing how my connection to God and His Torah is really improved by being in a particular place. We tend to think that spirituality is not connected with the physical. This sheur shows 6 "contradicting" midrashim, which, upon analysis, helps us understand the problem & the secret beauty of Eretz Yisrael.
These oft-debated issues of "hasbara", demand good answers. Rav Shvat suggests 4 replies to the accusation of Israel occupying arab "territories" based upon the difficulty western & rational man has in understanding why the arabs could be the aggressors if they always suffer more casualties? The world doesn't understand the Jihad mindset which doesn't mind losing wars and being suicide bombers which in fact, defies logic and prevents deterrance. History, both old and new also bolster the Jewish claims. Anti-semitism is an additional unfortunate clouding factor. Among several approaches to why the moral mitzvot are geared particularly to Jews: is simply that the Torah addresses Jewish life, among Jews, in the Jewish Land for the Jewish People, and more.
A concise & encompassing explanation of WHY chazal teach us that "Living in Eretz Yisrael is equated with all of the mitzvot combined"? Proofs and 5 reasons why this mitzva is unique and special among the mitzvot aseh, and 9 additional points why especially today, Israel is that much more important to Judaism, including halachic, philosophic, historical, logical, national, religious, and spiritual reasons.
We saw last time that Israel has those who celebrate with fire the light of Torah and others who sit around bonfires to emulate non-religious pioneers. We looked to unify the two, which we will get to this week.
Shemitta, with which our parasha opens, is one of the land-based mitzvot, which give expression to the sanctity of the Land of Israel in comparison to other lands. Rav Kook (Shabbat Ha’aretz, intro. to ch. 15) cited the Radbaz’s question: If the pre-Shemitta sale of the land to non-Jews eliminates the Land’s sanctity in regard to Shemitta, how can one fulfill the mitzva of living in the Land? Rav Kook answered that the Land’s sanctity is not a result of the possibility to fulfill the mitzvot related to it. Rather, the kedusha of the Land and the mitzva to live in it exist even when laws such as Shemitta do not apply. The gemara (Chagiga 5a) posits that exile of the Nation of Israel from its Land caused the greatest undoing of the Torah. Just as with the greatness of Torah, the basic level exists independently of the ability to fulfill the mitzvot commanded in it, so too the Land of Israel maintains its core value even if certain of its mitzvot are not in force.