Some people mistakenly think that Judaism has nothing to do with a piece of land. Let me bring you just a small taste from the abundance of verses, sayings, laws and basic tenets of Judaism that speak of the centrality of the Holy Land of Israel in the full life of the Jewish nation.

1] The first words of God to Abraham concerned the Holy Land: "Go forth from your land… to the land that I will show you… I will make you into a great nation, bless you, make your name great and you will be a blessing… and all the nations of the world will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12, 1 - 3).

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2] The first words of G-d to Isaac concerned the Holy Land: "Live in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and your descendants I will give all these… and all the peoples of the world will be blessed through your descendants" (Genesis 26, 2 - 4).

3] The first words of God to Jacob concerned the Holy Land: "I am G-d the Lord of your father Abraham and the Lord of your father Isaac; the land that you are sleeping on – I will give to you and to your descendants… and all the nations of the world will be blessed through you and your descendants" (Genesis 28, 13 - 14).

4] The first words of God to Moses concerned the Holy Land: "I will go down to save [my nation] from Egypt and bring him up from that land to a good and wide land, to a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3, 8).

5] The first things Moses mentioned that God told the Jewish nation at Mt. Sinai concerned the Holy Land: "God our Lord spoke to us at Chorev saying – too long have you stayed by this mountain. Turn and go to… the land… see that I have given you this land, come and possess the land that God promised to your forefathers…" (Deuteronomy 1, 6-8).

6] Even the pursuit of justice is tied to the Holy Land: "Justice justice shall you pursue, in order to live and inherit the land that God your Lord gives you" (Deuteronomy 16, 20).

7] Our very faith and connection to God is intertwined with the Holy Land: "I will give to you and your descendants after you the land of your dwelling, all of the land of Canaan for an everlasting inheritance and I will be your Lord" (Genesis 17, 8). "I am God your Lord who has taken you out of Egypt in order to give you the land of Canaan to be your Lord" (Leviticus 25, 38).
The Sages (Ketubot 110b, and many other sources) point out that only in the Holy Land is a Jew truly a servant of God. Jewish life outside of the Land of Israel is an abnormality. The ability to survive exile and dispersion while continuing to grow spiritually is a miraculous occurrence in history, not the norm of our nation.

8] Therefore it was always clear to those who lived and thrived in Judaism that even if exiled – the Torah tells us we'll return to the Holy Land: "G-d your Lord will return you, taking mercy on you. He will again gather you from all the nations where He had dispersed you there. [Even] if you'll be dispersed to the ends of the world – from there G-d will gather you and take you. G-d will bring you to the land that your forefathers had inherited, and you will inherit it" (Deuteronomy 30, 3-5).

9] That return – which we are living today and began two hundred years ago – will be even more miraculous, even though it comes in the guise of a natural process. "Days will come… and no longer will it be said: 'By G-d who redeemed Israel from Egypt!', but rather: 'By G-d who redeemed Israel from the lands of the north, and from all the lands to where He had dispersed them!' –because I will return them to their land…" (Jeremiah 16, 14 - 15).

Shana Tova!
 
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