One of my favorite parts of seminary in E"Y was the history that surrounded every step.
Here in America, if you go on a trip, while you do see the wonders of creation, you don't get a mitzvah for every step you take. You don't think that this is your land, your past, and your future. In Israel, you do.
I remember when we went down south to the Negev on one of our last tiyulim (trips). As we were going through the desert, we saw these stubby little trees. (I took a picture, but I can't find it now.) Our tour guide told us they were Atzei Shitim, the trees from which the Mishkan was built (hence the connection to this week's parsha :P).
The question is, though, how did those trees get to the middle of the midbar? Deserts don't usually have trees - cacti, yes; trees, not so much. She answered that Yaakov Avinu saw that in the future we would need wood to build the mishkan, so he planted them there.
The fact that they were still there when I was on that tiyul, that we could still see pieces of the past alive today made my Israeli experience, every tiyul, a wonder. Just seeing the past so alive helped my Emuna so much because it was so clear that the Torah was real. It's real, and it's staring you right in the face. There is no way to deny it.
[Just a funny point from this same tiyul: You know how in upstate New York there are signs for deer crossings? Well, in the negev, there are similar signs for camel crossings. I thought it was hilarious. ]
6 days ago