Focusing our attention on the Land of Israel brings us closer God

Aug 5, 2021

אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ דֹּרֵשׁ אֹתָהּ תָּמִיד עֵינֵי יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בָּהּ מֵרֵשִׁית הַשָּׁנָה וְעַד אַחֲרִית שָׁנָה׃

It is a land which Hashem your God looks after, on which Hashem your God always keeps His eye, from year's beginning to year's end.

E-retz a-sher a-do-NAI e-lo-HE-kha do-RAYSH o-TAH ta-MEED ay-NAY a-do-NAI e-lo-HE-kha BA may-ray-SHEET ha-sha-NAH v'-AD a-kha-REET sha-NAH

Deuteronomy 11:12

How is it possible to come closer to God? The Hebrew Bible provides the answer. Leviticus (19:2) commands us, “to be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Based on this verse, Judaism uses a Hebrew expression, “v’halakhta bidrakhav” (you should walk in His ways) and Christianity applies the Latin phrase, “Imitatio Dei” (Imitation of God) to stress the importance of striving to be more God-like.

Centuries ago, the ancient rabbis of the Talmud (circa 200-500 CE) asked a simple but profound question based on this verse. How can any of us strive to achieve Godliness? Isn’t that a bit presumptuous for mere mortals like ourselves? They answer with a practical lesson right out of the Bible. Exodus (34:6) states that the Lord is compassionate, loving, merciful, and slow to anger. In those ways, we are to act the way God acts. When we get frustrated at our children for not listening properly, or when a colleague at work misses a deadline, we must remember God’s merciful patience and do our best to emulate His ways. While it is true that we can’t actually achieve Godliness in its ultimate form, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

There is one time, however, that the Bible goes beyond mentioning Divine attributes and specifies what the Almighty does each day, “from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.” With unusual precision, Deuteronomy (11:12) describes God lovingly looking out for Israel each day. “It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” This is much more than a general description of God’s qualities, this is the only time in the entire Bible that it tells us how He spends His time each day!

Scripture is teaching us a powerful lesson, that if we want to come close to Him we must do what He does and love what He loves. Of course, the Almighty is concerned with every tiny town and major metropolis on the planet, but the Bible goes out of its way to describe God’s special love for the Land of Israel as the place upon which He directs His eyes each and every day.

The application for our own life is so easy to achieve. We can get as close as possible to the Divine! All we have to do is pray for the peace of Jerusalem each day, stay informed and educated about Israel, visit the Holy Land as often as possible, and do whatever we can to support the Jewish people who have finally returned home. In fact, it is this verse that inspired Rabbi Tuly Weisz to start “Israel365,” which enables hundreds of thousands of people all over the world to connect with Israel each and every day of the year.

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