by Reb Akiva of Mystical Paths
As you become interested in Judaism and start reading the tefilot (prayers), you notice reference after reference to Israel. As a Jewish American (order intention) who’s looking to learn more about religion, the constant mentions of Israel are downright confusing.
Learning a bit more it gets even more confusing! Why do we say “moreed hatal” or “mashiv haruach umoreed hageshem” (who makes the dew fall or who brings the wind and rain) at different times of the year which may not match the local weather pattern? Because that’s when it rains or doesn’t rain in Israel!
Sitting back as an American, why am I suddenly expected to be praying about Israel all the time? Isn’t this kind of a political thing? Do I have to instantly become a zionist and supporter of the Israeli government to be religiously Jewish?
It takes some time to learn the proper balance and perspective. That is…Israel is the Holy Land and G-d’s gift to the Jewish people. Judaism is intimately tied up with Israel, such that over half the commandments can ONLY be fulfilled in Israel, every set of prayers and even birkat hamazon (blessings after a meal) mention Israel and the mystical side of Judaism teaches that all our prayers must travel via Israel on their way to the kisay hakavod.
While it is possible to be Jewish and religiously Jewish in any part of the world, Judaism is designed around Israel, Jerusalem, and the Beis HaMikdash (the Holy Temple currently in ruin with a mosque sitting on the site). This is not a political statement, this is religious statement that is a fundamental part of Judaism and Jewishness.
Now how Jews should deal with this in relating to a secular Jewish Israeli government operating a secular Jewish nation-state with a majority Jewish population in PART of the historical and biblical Land of Israel and incorporating Jewish culture and holidays is another question altogether.
But regardless of one’s political position there’s two things that can’t be denied. Judaism and Jewishness is directly tied to the Land of Israel. One cannot deny this without denying the Torah, the Mishnah, the Gemora, the Mishneh Torah and the Shulchan Aruch.
And the current State of Israel has a whole lot of Jews living there. Just about 1/2 the Jews of the world currently live in Israel, with Jews from 63 different countries making their home there. The threats to the State of Israel are existential, meaning life and death, existence or genocidal slaughter.
So one quickly learns as a religious Jew that the Land of Israel involves every Jew and every Jew’s essence of Judaism. And while the State of Israel as a political entity is a separate matter, the threats to the Jews living there make it a matter of Ahavas Yisroel (love of your fellow) to support their safety.