Avraham avinu, our father Abraham, was the first oleh chadash (new immigrant) to Eretz Yisrael. In this week’s Torah portion, the eternal connection between us and our geographical place in the world begins to take hold. This is not something rational. It is impossible to explain how we remained loyal to a certain place for thousands of years, despite so many exiles, hardships, and many different, if often assimilating, cultures that surrounded us. The Or Hachaim Hakadosh, an 18th century Moroccan Torah commentator who spent his last years in Eretz Yisrael, writes about the message that G-d is transmitting to Avraham avinu.
“The Land of Israel is meant for you – and you are meant for it.I will show it to you – and I will show you to it.Because without each other, the divine presence has nowhere to rest — neither on the land nor on you.”
It’s a kind of shidduch. The nation and the land, promised to each other in the Torah, cannot live apart. I don’t think that Jessica Meir, the American astronaut, was thinking of this week’s Torah portion when she took a picture of Israel from the space station where she is currently a resident. Next to the picture, Meir wrote about her father’s inspiring journey from Iraq to Israel when he made aliyah. Thousands of years after Avraham, our journey to the Land of Israel – and our connection to the land even when living in a space station – continues.
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin