This coming Shabbat, the Torah portion (Shelach) that recalls the sin of the spies, is read. These were the 12 men that Moshe sent to scout out the Land of Israel before entering.
When they returned, their reports were distorted and negative and caused a 40 year delay before the Children of Israel could enter the Promised Land.
Today despite the challenges that come with living in Israel, we New Olim are witness to all that is good and special about living here and it is in our ability to tell our family, friends and neighbors abroad what those things are.
In honor of Parshat Shelach, here are 12 things that are special about living in Israel.
1. Being part of and contributing to the Jewish nation "at such a time as this"
2. The feeling of Home and belonging, everywhere I go "to and fro throughout the land."
3. Old City - a 20-minute walk from my apartment. I can walk to the Kotel every day!
4. "The air of Jerusalem causes wisdom"
5. When I say "Shabbat Shalom" to people on the street, they say it back instead of looking at me like I'm crazy.
6. The lowest place on Earth (Dead Sea) and the Holiest place on Earth (Temple Mount) within an hour's drive of each other.
7. All Jewish holidays are national holidays AND we only have one day of Yom Tov.
8. Living in Israel is a mitzvah that ONLY can be performed in the Land of Israel, and there are many other mitzvot that can ONLY be performed in Israel itself and not "Chutz L'Aretz" ("Outside of The Land").
9. Get on any bus and eavesdrop on arguements about the fine points of halacha between Haredim, Chasadim, Religious Zionists and regular housewives - any time of the day!
10. Meeting Jews from Russia, Ethiopian, France, Iran, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, India, Texas and everywhere else...and we're all trying to learn to speak Hebrew together!
11. Incredible beauty and holiness of the Land itself
12. Every location and vista is connected to Jewish history and has a fascinating story to tell.
If you'd like to know more about the viability of living in Israel, and how Nefesh b'Nefesh can help you make the dream of Aliyah a reality, visit http://www.nbn.org/.