Love of (the People and land of) Israel

In many respects, Ahavat Yisrael is an extension of the value v’ahavta l’reacha kamocha (loving your neighbor as yourself). The Talmud declares that love for the people Israel is the most important principle of the Torah (Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 30b). Judaism teaches that the value of Ahavat Yisrael refers to love that exists from the depth of one’s heart. This affirms the notion that kol Yisrael arevim zeh b’zeh that all of Israel is responsible for each other (Sanhedrin 27b). In addition to Ahavat Yisrael referring to love for the people of Israel, it also is connected to the land of Israel. The Psalms teach that Jerusalem, and as an extension, Israel as a whole, fosters togetherness (Psalm 122). Our Midrash speaks of Jerusalem and the land of Israel being the light of the world and describes the land as one of splendor and one of beauty (Genesis Rabbah 59:5). Our link to the land is based in our history as a people. Israel represents not just a homeland for the Jewish people, but the realization of a promise made between Abraham and God nearly 6,000 years ago.

Questions for Reflection

  1. In what ways are many Jewish values linked to the notion of Ahavat Yisrael in terms of loving the people Israel?
  2. Why is important to have a relationship with the land of Israel?
  3. How can you incorporate the value of Ahavat Yisrael in your classroom?

We should love the land and people of Israel.