For a piece of Middle Eastern geography, even one with millennia old Jewish history embedded in its soil, Israel plays an outsized part in Jewish life. Israel's significance goes far beyond history for the Jewish people.

This 260 mile long slice of real estate is so central to Judaism that a majority of Jewish practice, from Passover (e.g. the Passover lamb which needed to be brought in Israel), to pasta (e.g. an offering of grain called the ‘Omer’ needed to be brought in Israel before anyone could eat their annual new crop of grain) is tethered to it.

The land of Israel is a kind of embodiment of Judaism itself. Which, if you think about it, is quite interesting for a religion brimming with spirituality, scholarship and celebration. All that represented by a piece of land?

That said, it isn't the only instance in life where we ascribe such significance to something as quiet and dormant as earth. In fact, it's not so uncommon at all.

Take Toy Story for example. While the film told a great story (and continues to do so, nearly thirty years later), it's perhaps the very setting of Toy Story which made the 1995 film such a success. The idea of toys having their own, secret world, hidden from human view, was something which people connected to instantly. It's as if everyone was always wondering what toys did when we weren't watching, and Toy Story just gave us the inside scoop. There seems to be a kind of universal understanding that the dormant, silent elements of our planet have much to them than meets the eye.

And that is precisely why Israel is so important to the Jewish people. The Jewish journey has always been about listening to the whispers of the dormant and the silent, the whispers of nature - of the earth itself. If we listen carefully enough it becomes clear that the world is wired to be a caring, peaceful, holy place. Observing the crashing waves, the beauty of nature, even just the rolling hills of a meadow makes it near obvious that the world is built for peace. If we'd only listen to G‑d's peaceful nature and not get carried away by outside human pressure. It isn’t for naught that the most important Jewish prayer begins with the words ‘Shema Yisrael’ - 'listen O Israel'. 

The land of Israel highlights Judaism’s firm belief that our world does not need to be fundamentally changed or altered. It just needs to be used properly, to be filled with light until it shines. How much more so people. We don’t need to be changed. We need to let our inner selves, our Jewish Neshamas shine, and help others do the same. The result is 'to infinity, and beyond'.

Rabbi Avrohom