2 Cheshvan 5781 / Tuesday, October 20, 2020 | Torah Reading: Noach
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Judaism of Joy in the Land of Israel    

Judaism of Joy in the Land of Israel

Whether Breslevers or Beatnicks, anyone can be seen in Israel's breathtaking nature reserves, enjoying all the amenities that Hashem's holy land has to offer…


There is an ongoing joy that every child on earth can have. You don’t need to spend money. You don’t need video, and you certainly don’t need a Smartphone. In fact, to share this joy these things should stay in the trunk of your car.


My family had the greatest weekend. I took a day off from work, and we went to Nahal Amud, a nature reserve in between Meron and Sefad. We walked down about half a kilometer to a running stream. There were fish swimming all around. My youngest daughter screamed in laughter as they nibbled at her toes.


I became worried about our water. We drank most of it hiking down the mountain. I asked my wife what we were going to do once we had to hike back up, without enough to keep us hydrated. She calmly smiled as she pointed at the stream. Fortunately for us she grew up on a farm.


We were wading in clean, running water. We filled up a bottle and inspected its contents for sediment. It was perfectly clear. I took a taste – the finest bottled water doesn’t come close. Our kids spend hours playing. My son grabbed mud from the bottom, made mud balls, and threw it at everyone. My girls were dancing. My wife discovered a small cave that led to a larger pool. Where the fish were the size of foxes!


We were in paradise. We spent the night in tents, listening to the howl of wolves. We woke up to a hot cup of coffee, the fresh mountain air, and our children gathering rocks to make a castle to defend the tents. We bumped into religious Jews, secular Jews, Arabs, and tourists from abroad. They all asked us where we were from, “Netanya.”


It sounds so natural.


While driving home we took a little detour to Sefad. There was a poster of the Lubavitcher Rebbe along with a message, “Not a single Jew left behind in Exile.”


They got it right.


The Land of Israel is the Judaism of Joy. Home is anywhere outdoors. A barbeque is our national pastime. Hikes are for everyone, and loving the Land of Israel includes its rocks,  dirt, flowers, water, many paths, birds, trees, bushes, scents, air, and fish that bring joy to everyone who is wise enough to sense it all around them. This is something everyone has in common here. Whether Breslevers or Beatnicks, anyone can be seen in a nature reserve with sweat atop their brow and a smile across their face.


This mitzvah, Living in the Land of Israel, a mitzvah that the holy Rambam equates with every single mitzvah in the Torah. When observed, it becomes the joy of Judaism. We make it a point to go somewhere every Friday. Baruch Hashem, we have kept it up for years. When we can’t do it, we all feel sick to our stomach. When we are outside, we feel an inner peace that rivals any other emotion of calm and serenity.


Our children are happier than we could have ever dreamt. They are active. They are healthy. They have imaginations reserved for just the most uncommon of dreamers, and the most common of kids.


We live in Netanya, a city that is 50% secular. Not a day goes by that we see non-observant people doing things that look like fun. We even see non-Jewish people do things that no Jew would do, but to a kid it looks interesting.


Our kids are beginning to ask questions like, “Why not eat that?” or “Why not watch that?”


It’s a blessing. We get to answer them every day. In answering them at every opportunity, we answer ourselves. We remind our children and each other how important it is to follow Hashem’s Commandments not to follow our eyes and our heart. It’s an exercise of ongoing remembrance.


We are celebrating the Judaism of Joy in the one place on earth G-d created for us to enjoy it in.


The answers come easy. Life is sweet. Our kids love being Jews even with every other option are right before their eyes.


If you are searching where to find the Judaism of Joy, there is a place that hovers somewhere above the earth, and someplace right next to Heaven that is welcome to anybody who needs a smile.

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