Adderabbi has tagged me to write this 12 for 12 piece! It originated with NBN suggesting that in honour of parashat shelach lecha and the story of the spies, people give 12 reasons why they love Israel (to reflect the 12 reports of the 12 spies.)
Well how can I resist the temptation to join the party?
Moses asked the people about the botany, the temperament etc. of the land, and hence I will divide my "good report" into familiar school disciplines. You will see that they ALL focus upon the fact that I love this place simply because it is home!
1. Linguistics: I love hearing and speaking the Hebrew language. Apart from the miracle of the revival of a 2000 year old language, it is simply a beautiful experience to be able to inject our everyday chatter with phrases from the Bible and Talmud.
2. Sociology - Everyone in Israel will share their views on life (and their salary information) with you. They will tell you how to dress your child. They will give you a devar Torah, or an ideological speech, sometimes even if they look like some scary street thug. You meet so many types of Jews, but at some level you realise that we are all family.
3. Geography - We have a beautiful stunning land. And in such a small space we have such range: dessert, rolling hills, beaches, the fertile Golan, the snowy Hermon, the forever sunny Eilat, the salty Dead Sea. Quite amazing.
4. History - Our land is so suffused with History, from every period; It is inspiring! I went biking with my son last Friday on Derekh HaAvot - an ancient footpath from Hebron to Jerusalem. Pilgrims to the Temple walked that road. And quite possibly Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did too! When my wife studied in Heb U. she rented an apartment. It was only months afterwards that she found out that Yoni Netanyahu had lived in that very apartment when he was a student!
5. Political and Constitutional Studies - So fantastic that our national symbols: our emblem and flag, our national ceremonies and holidays, the President's inauguration, the anthem, and so much more, is Jewish!
6. Gastronomy - I love it that Kashruth is everywhere.
7. Theology - When you pray the Amida, you are asking for Israeli current events: for successful agriculture and economy, for the Justice system, for Jerusalem, for Aliya, for Peace! The Amida comes alive!
8. Literature - This week is Israel Book Week. In every town and village square, Israelis are buying books. Again, Israelis are writing more about Torah and life, society, politics and pain, and whatever... creating a new vibrant culture. In the religious world, there are Torah programs in dance and film, art and poetry. The spirit of Jewish creativity is alive!
9. Archeology and Bible Studies - It is difficult to express the feeling of walking around with the Bible in the very stones you walk upon. Next time you are in Israel, visit Ir David, or the Temple Southern Wall excavations. The Bible comes alive!
10. Botany - I was raised in Bnei Akiva with the phrase "Our hands in the clods of earth." I love my garden. I love watching the Pomegranates ripening for Rosh HAshanna, taking Teruma and Maaser, and just knowing that I am working on a piece of our Holy Land.
11. Journalism - The cacophony of voices, at shrill tone, arguing and debating, examining every angle in the manner of a Talmudic Sugya permeates the Knesset and the journalistic world of Israel. We are the most open and argumentative of peoples. Even a compliment cannot be made without a cynical comeback. (Rav Yoel Bin Nun said the other day, that only Bilaam could have written such unreserved praise of Am Yisrael! If a Jew had said "Ma Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov," they would have suspected that he was standing for election!)
12. Talmud: We see an expansion of Torah learning with every genre, from Feminist Studies to Yeshiva pilpul; from Mussar to Poetry, from text analysis to literary readings, from Brisker Chakiras to now Medical Halakha. It is wide and deep and happening only in Israel.
But more than anything. This is my land; our land. Just like my kids are the most stunning kids in the world (and sometimes the most irritating) precisely because they are mine. Similarly our land is especially stunning and especially beloved (and frequently irritating) precisely because it is ours!