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The headlines about Iran attacking Israel this week, for the first time directly, have once again made many anxious for the security of Israel and its millions of inhabitants. 

I felt it would be opportune to write a few words about Israel - specifically what it represents to us in every day life.

In 2010 Elie Wiesel penned an article/ad in the NYT, ending with the words, 'Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.'

Jerusalem, and the Land of Israel, are not only the heart of the Jewish people, but of the entire world. It is through the soil of the Holy Land that God's presence can be felt throughout the globe. 

Why is the Land of Israel the heart of the world? 

For that matter, what is a heart? Why do we need one? I'm not talking about the cardiological function of blood circulation, but of the spiritual function the heart plays. The heart is emotions. The heart is feelings, from depression to happiness

The heart seems to be the place where a lot of problems start too. Rarely is a crime committed, an act of anger carried out or a lie told that isn't primarily driven by emotions. On a logical level, it doesn't take long to convince someone of the importance of doing something good - anything, no matter how big. Everyone wants to be a 'mentsch'. We all understand the importance of being kind, sharing, patient and generous. Who'd argue with that? 

So why aren't we always endlessly kind, sharing, patient and generous? 

One word: The heart. 

While those are ideals we all acknowledge as optimal, we also know that they're much easier said than done. We may have all the perfect behavior formed in our mind, but when actually bringing it to fruition things tend to get bumpy.  

Of course, the heart can be kind, happy and compassionate too. But if left alone, without being kept in check by the mind, it would take us on a very wild ride.

So why do we need a heart? 

Again, one word: You. 

You, the real you, are not your mind. No matter how brainy you are, you are still not your mind. 

You are an individual, and You cannot be in two places at one time. You can think about two things nearly simultaneously, fluctuating from one thought to the next in milliseconds. You can even have different thoughts about a single item, person or place simultaneously. But feelings? It is practically impossible to feel positive and negative (about the same thing) at the same time. 

Why? Because the real You resides in the heart, and there's only one of You to go around. However frivolous the heart is, that's where the real You is found. You won't hear someone tell you to do something 'with all your brain'. They'll tell you to do it 'with all your heart'. 

Judaism has plenty of mind-stuff, of course, and don't get me wrong, that mind-stuff is crucial. We need direction, we need to fill our minds with Torah, we need to know what to do in order to be good people, good Jews.  And the way to influence and guide ourselves is through the mind. Connecting to God through Torah study is a connection like no other. But it's all in order to get the real You involved.

Israel has always represented that very idea - connecting the real You to God. Israel represents the heart, because it represents the Jewish people living as real people in the real world. Since becoming a people at the time of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, the Jews had been involved primarily in study and spirituality. They spent forty years in the desert after receiving the Torah in this state. Only after entering the Land of Israel did they have jobs, farms, and a country to maintain. Just as the heart represents you the way you live real life, not the lofty ideals in your mind, so too did the Land of Israel represent the Jews living in the real world, and bringing those lofty ideals into concrete reality.

Israel represents the emotional element of the Jewish people, where the real 'we' was to be found. Mt. Sinai was the mind, the Land of Israel the heart. It was where Abraham lived, where David composed his psalms and where Solomon built the Temple. It's been the heart of the Jewish people since Abraham and Sara set foot there 3,775 years ago, and so it shall forever remain.

Rabbi Avrohom