In our generation we will see the majority of Jews living in the Promised Land for the first time since King Solomon’s Temple stood in its glory. In 1948 there were 600,000 Jews living in the re-established Nation of Israel. That was less than 10% of the Jewish People. Today, 43% of all Jew’s call Israel home. Birthrates among Jews in Israel are skyrocketing. Jewish communities outside of Israel are diminishing at an alarming rate.
Conquering the Land of Israel is no longer a military feat. The challenge today is not politics, diplomacy, or even defiance. Today’s mission is to live here with gratitude and joy.
It’s a lot easier said than done.
The Gemara teaches us that the Land of Israel is given to us through suffering (Berachot 5a). We don’t live here and find happiness off the bat. We experience trials and tribulations at every turn to atone for our sins, and the sins of our brothers and sisters in this generation and generations past.
There is a persistent feeling here that things aren’t the way they are supposed to be. It feels like there is so much pent up energy just waiting to be released and it’s our actions which are holding things back. It’s so tempting to blame others.
Life is not a movie. Difficult moments don’t come and go with the ending credits. A problem in livelihood sticks with us every moment of every day until it eases. A conflict in the family can hurt even more. They are struggles we have to contend with day in and day out for as long as the tribulation persists.
Things do get better. On this sacred soil the best is yet to come. This is not a question or an uncertainty– it is Divine Prophecy. Hundreds of promises which G-d swore to us thousands of years ago have already been fulfilled right before our eyes in the very times we are living in.
The key to conquering the Land of Israel is to live here with optimism. It is to pass the tests we are given by accepting all that Hashem wants us to experience so we can be ready for the best times ever.
The great battle begins at that point where suffering becomes bitterness. Hashem tells us directly: Behold, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil (Deuteronomy 30:15). It is up to us to decide what we see. In a period of suffering, without even realizing it, we very subtly start to focus on only the bad in others because we can’t see past the bad in ourselves. The key to enduring in the Land of Israel, raising a family, and conquering the country is by adhering to G-d’s Commandment four lines past: You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live (Deuteronomy 30:19).
We reach a state of endless joy by striving to express our a constant gratitude.
The true fact of life is that for every one instance of something seemingly bad, there are 500 occurrences of good happening at the same time. The sky is majestic. Flowers bloom all around us. Our heart pumps. We inhale air painlessly. We have friends and family that love us. Hashem is always right here beside us doing everything for our benefit. Suffering retreats at the point of bitterness when we constantly remind ourselves of G-d’s unceasing gifts.
Dedicating a part of our daily personal prayers to thanking Hashem for all the good He gives us in this world is the ultimate way to perceive everything as essentially good. Turning off the media, which focuses on all the bad in this world and always gives us someone else to blame for our problems, is a great way to slash the heaviest resistance to meeting our objectives. When we feel things are not the way they should be, we no longer point a finger. We cry out to G-d and yearn for the days when all of our hopes and dreams will be fulfilled. We cry out from the depths of our heart for healing, forgiveness, and Redemption. We stop screaming at our brothers and sisters. We scream for them. We plead on their behalf.
The last time we conquered the Land, it was preceded by an unprecedented outpouring of prayer and supplication by our brothers, for our brothers.
It is up to us to make history repeat itself again and again. This is the real battle. This is how we truly conquer the Land, and safeguard it until Moshiach comes.
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Dovber Halevi is the author of Sex, Religion, and the Middle East, a book about personal holiness and happiness. He lives in Israel with his wife and three children.