The Land and the People
by Rabbi Myer Kripke
The scouts who spied out the Land of Israel for Moses described it as a land flowing with milk and honey. And indeed, compared with the desert areas the Israelites had traversed, the land was very good. It was a land of brooks and fountains, of rich deposits in the rocks of its hills, and of agricultural produce beyond anything they had known.
All of this is comparative, of course. Today, Israel would gladly give up the modest copper mines it has for a fully flowing oil field or two.
The breadbasket we live in here in the Middle West of the United States is infinitely more blessed by nature that Israel’s grudging soil and climate.
Nature has a way, though, of making land and its people spiritually inseparable. It is not unusual, then, that ancient Jews should have extolled the Land of Israel and its beauties.
Nonetheless, it is far beyond the usual that Jews should have held a central part of their hearts open to Eretz Yisrael for almost 2,000 years, long after the warmth would normally have cooled down. No other people has ever displayed anything like this. Only the Jews, and only the Land of Israel.
If it is not a land flowing with oil, or even milk and honey, it is a land flowing with the great ideas of Judaism. It is a land where men confronted God and where God confronted men with the concept of human duty. It is the land of Torah, of ethnical sensitivity, of the concept of brotherly love, peace, freedom, and human redemption.