The Ultimate Unifier of The Jewish People Our People forget their differences when working the land
Years of study and/or training, can earn a person a profession or vocation such as an: accountant, lawyer, computer programmer, auto mechanic, building contractor, engineer, etc. Does your profession or vocation define who you are as a person? How many times have you been introduced to people and the first question they ask you is, “So what do you do?” I suppose if you are a micro biologist working in Pfizer in the middle of the pandemic, you would be proud to combine with what you do as work with who you are as a person.
Taking this another step further, there is the old expression of ‘clothes make the man’. In other words, you can tell a lot about a person by the clothes they wear. In Israel, certain basic style of clothing can only mean ‘Hareidim’. Knit kipot (Yarmulkes) usually mean Dati Leumi (National religious). No Kipot is assumed to be Chiloni (secular). Of course, among Hareidim there are Hardalnik (Hareidi but Nationalist), anti-Zionist, and pro Land of Israel but against a secular state. Then of course there Hasidim and Yerushalmi and Litvish Hareidim. Let’s not forget the differences between Sephardic and Ashkenazi. Among the knit kipa wearers there are the more religiously stringent Toranis. They are usually stricter about observing halacha than the more lightly observant Dati Leumi. Back to the not kipa wearers you have those who never put on a kipa and never go to synagogue and don’t keep kosher. You have some that pray every morning and say Kiddush on Friday night and wear kipot when doing so.
All of the above creates communities, sects, political alienation, etc. Many are categorized and you don’t see enough people looking different yet socializing together. Except of course, during wars. When the enemy attacks the Jews in Israel, he isn’t attacking him/her because of the victim’s level of religiosity or by what he/she is wearing or his/her accent. The enemy wishes to kill Jews, and unfortunately, it has taken wars to bring some of our people together for the first time in their lives.
We Pray for Rain in the Winter and Dew in the Summer
In our prayer books during the winter part of the year we pray for winds and rain to fall on Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel). The other half of the year we pray for dew. It is amazing that you can predict with certainty that there will be no relevant rainfall in the summer months in Israel, and that 99% of the rainfall will take place during the winter months. It has been this way for thousands of years. Some people are predicting environmental disasters from global warming and they cite different disasters from hurricanes to tornadoes, to earthquakes, to flooding, to forest fires. Yet they can’t explain why things are still so relatively predictable in the Holy Land.
Working the Land
We pray for rain because the earth needs water for nourishment. We have laws (mitzvot) how to grow fruits and vegetables as well as when we can begin to harvest fruit (orlah) and we must give the land a rest (every 7th year shmita). We even have to allow some of the fruit to be given to the poor even though we don’t know what our profits will be in advance. Yet it all works out.
When Jews started to come back and work the land and plant it and cultivate it, most of the work was performed by Jewish pioneers. Over the years through lack of priority from the government and education ministry as well as high taxes, Jewish farming has decreased in Israel. There are less Jews working in agriculture every year. Those who stay often hire foreign workers and Arabs to do the work. The result? Less appreciation for the land.
When we at Buy a Piece of Israel began our Avoda Ivrit (Jewish manual labor) projects, we wanted to encourage young people to appreciate the Land of Israel. We truly hoped that more people would get involved in owning the land and that that would also make more Jews less willing to give up territory in phony peace agreements that are not only against Jewish law, they weaken our security and our sovereignty over any part of the Land of Israel.
Something Magical Happened
This year instead of bringing buses of students to pick olives to assist our workers, we were severely hindered because the schools were not allowed to send buses because of the government rules of the pandemic. We had to think quickly and so we asked friends who asked friends and we picked a lot of the olives as Jews, some native Israelis and many immigrants from all over the world, worked together to get the job done. Most importantly, they enjoyed it!
This week, we were in Yavniel, and with the assistance of some of the recent land purchasers and many volunteers, we planted several hundred trees in Yavniel, in the Lower Galilee. This time, I was less stressed for time as I was during the harvest and I had time to notice some things. There were National religious Jews speaking with Hasidic Jews who were helping Jews without kipas. There were Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews. Jews from Israel, Canada, Ireland, United States, England, Russian, South Africa, and more! The most amazing thing was the camaraderie between them. This did not have the appearance of a typical Israeli street scene as portrayed regularly by Israel’s leftist biased media. This was a bunch of Jews from every possible background, enjoying planting another olive grove in the Galilee, in the Holy Land. It was Jewish. It was beautiful.
In all of my life, in all of the places I have lived, in all of the places I’ve traveled to, I never saw anything that came so close to perfect Jewish unity as I do when I’m out working the fields in the place of the Ultimate Jewish Unifier, The Land of Israel.
Come home and join us. We’re waiting for you!