These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Eretz HaQedoshah

Posted on February 18, 2013 by Michael Sassoon

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I shared these words with the Pardes community at
Community Lunch last week before my (temporary!) departure:

My experience here in Israel and at Pardes has been breathtaking. I feel the following verse playing itself out here for me in terms of things I’ve done, places and people I’ve seen, delicacies I’ve tasted:

אנכי ה` אלקיך, המעלך מארץ מצרים, הרחב-פיך ואמלאהו:

I am Hashem Your G-d, who brought you up from the land of Mitzrayim, open your mouth and I will fill it. (Tehillim 81)

I’d like to publicly thank Hashem for all the good and all the experiences he has provided me in my life thus far. I’d like to pay a deep hakarat hatov to Rabbi Landes, to Falynn, Meesh, Donna, all my teachers, and especially to you all who have welcomed me with open arms, with warmth, showing personal interest in my experience and having good times inside these walls and outside.

Parashat Terumah is about crafting the radio with which we converse with G-d. Following this, G-d will dwell in us (WeShakhanti Bethokham). We human beings are an integral component in that radio transmission process. We have to work hard to fashion ourselves – work hard on ourselves to constantly improve the quality of the signal. Just like the gemstones for the breastplate, the acacia wood for the ark, the gold, the techelet and the argaman – we need all the best ingredients to get ourselves up to scratch: our jastrows, our sokoloffs, torat hayims, Rav Steinsaltz, and all the iOS and tablet apps we can get our hands on. Most important is to roll up our sleeves and get cracking.

Rav Matis Weinberg said in a shiur recently that reading or hearing about Torah makes as much sense as reading about the new York times. Rather: learn Torah directly.

This is what we do at Pardes. Apply ourselves assiduously to the texts, and to the meta texts.

In line with this, if you haven’t experienced Rav Elisha‘s Torah- what are you doing? It is brilliant, brutally honest, and challenging in a unique and mind-blowing way. Don’t be put off by the time. 7:30-9:30pm Wednesdays – it’s worth every minute. GO. Even once, to try it. Theres one article you can read to get you into the swing, please see R. Elisha or Abayiss afterwards. Trust the Australian.

What you have in front of you (See PDF) is a song I frequently hear on a special sort of radio. An almost heavenly Galgalatz, if you will.

It beautifully captures my feeling for the land, and my yearning to return even as I depart. It extols the richness of the land like a lover would to his or her beloved – as if to say Israel’s eyes, her lips, her hair…

A word on a word before I give you my rendition: HemdaR’ Dr. Ari Lobel explains this word to mean potentially attractive in an intimate way. This idea was discussed in a series on Daniel, where Daniel is referred to in this way. And it is apt: one is drawn to Israel – it is holy, it is special beyond material value, and it is physically attractive, too.

It is a land that fills you with a special form of lust or desire known as Hesheq. It is Eretz HaHashuqa. You want it. You want to be filled by it and you want to wrap it in your arms.

So without further ado, here is a rendition of the indicated stanzas of a particularly dear song to me.
(listen to MP3 below)

Selection of Eretz HaQedoshah