Without question, the Torah commandment to live in the Land of Israel is the most challenging commandment there is for a Jew. For Jews who still live in the Diaspora, fulfilling the commandment means a formidable change in life that a majority of people balk at.
Because this mitzvah is so holy and vital to the service of Hashem, the yetzer hara (evil inclination) rises up in opposition, presenting ever worry, doubt, and argument it can to discourage Jews from fulfilling the mitzvah, a precept so fundamental to the complete observance of Torah that it is considered equal in weight to all of the other precepts of the Torah combined.
Torah commentators reveal that Moshe offered 515 prayers to Hashem, begging Hashem to let him enter the Land of Israel. They are encapsulated in the first verse of this coming Shabbat, "Ve-etchanan el Hashem" - "And I beseeched G-d."
Now, at a time when Corona rages in the Holy Land, and increasing unemployment and economic worry trouble the country, many Diaspora Jews have a new reason not to make Aliyah. But the mitzvah to live in the Land of Israel is independent of all other factors, such as the presence of fierce giants in the Land, as during the time of the Spies, or the fact that idol worshippers dwell there, as in the time of Avraham Avinu, who journeyed to Israel with simple faith in Hashem, abandoning his birthplace, parents, and economic security to fulfill the will of His Maker.
Given the uncertainties surrounding Aliyah, and the strategies of the yetzer hara which works overtime to discourage Jews from performing the incomparably exalted commandment, prayer can be a powerful and necessary weapon in winning the battle. Since some people have trouble making up prayers if they aren’t written out for them in a siddur, here is a prayer I wrote for coming to the Land of Israel. It may be the most important prayer you say in your lives.
Prayer to Come to the Land of Israel
Please G-d, and G-d of my fathers, please help me to come to the Land of Israel, Your chosen Holy Land, the Land where the Torah is meant to be kept, the Land where the commandments have their true value, the gateway to Heaven where all prayers ascend, the Land that You watch over from the beginning of the year to the end, the Land of the Shechinah and Prophecy, the Land where our holy forefathers longed to dwell and never wanted to leave.
Deafen my ears to all of the excuses for not coming, however reasonable they might sound, whether it be the fear of Corona or economic insecurity, or my fear that my children will have to serve in the army, and that I will have to learn Hebrew, and that the country contains non-religious people who oppose the Torah and make light of its teachings and laws.
Please G-d, fill my heart with a burning desire to reach the Land of Israel and to live there, for I know that the service of G-d can only be complete there, in the Land which You created especially for the Jewish People and for the Torah, as it says over and over and over again in the Torah, and just like our Prophets and Sages have told us in dozens and dozens of ways, emphasizing that it is the Land of our life, the only place we can have our own Jewish Nation, the only place where we can live as free men and not minorities in foreign countries, where we are immersed in foreign cultures which pollute our true understandings of Torah – our eternal Homeland to which every Jew is destined to return.
And now that You in Your infinite mercy have opened the gates of aliyah after almost 2000 years, in fulfillment of Your promises in the Torah, and in fulfillment of the words of our Prophets, please help me to come to the Promised Land and do my share in the Redemption that is unfolding in our time. Now that the 2000 year longing, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” has become a reality, please let me shed all of my doubts, worries, and fears of the future, and my fear of started out anew, and let me race after You with blinders, trusting in You and You alone, not listening to anyone who tries to discourage me from attaining the ultimate goal of a Jew – living a Torah life in the Land of Israel.
Please Father in Heaven, and Master of all the Earth, gather me to our Cherished Land with the millions of Jews whom You have already brought home, let me take my place beside them in building the Land, Your chosen Holy Land, which is the beauty of all the earth, which our teacher, Moshe, yearned to reach all of his life, and now that I, a simple Jew like myself, has the chance to do what Moshe was denied, how can it be that I won’t do everything in my power to come?
I beg you, my Father, my King, strengthen my conviction until it be like steel, so that all of the distractions don’t confuse me along the way and prevent me from making aliyah, because I know that coming to Israel is the most important thing for a Jew and that the evil inclination rises up against him with all of its strength to prevent him from reaching the desired goal, even confusing people who are far greater in Torah than I am, just as it twisted the thinking of the Spies in the Wilderness, who were all great men, leaders in Torah, but who rebelled against Your command to journey on to the Promised Land because they wanted to remain in the wilderness without having to face the challenges of conquering and dwelling in the Land.
Deafen my ears to all of the excuses for not coming, however reasonable they might sound, whether it be the fear of Corona or economic insecurity, or my fear that my children will have to serve in the army, and that I will have to learn Hebrew, and that the country contains non-religious people who oppose the Torah and make light of its teachings and laws. Please put true faith in my heart that in doing Your will, You will surely guide me on my path and watch over me, even though the journey be hard, testing my faith and resolve all along the way.
Give me the strength to overcome all difficulties and setbacks, and the wisdom to know that all of the tests are for my good, to break down the walls of my stubborn heart and swollen ego so that I may become Your true humble servant, trusting in You and living according to Your will in the Land that you promised to our Forefathers.
Please G-d, grant me the unsurpassed blessing of coming to Israel and dwelling in the Land, the Land of the Jews, the Land which my grandfathers, and their grandfathers before them, yearned to return to for 2000 years, and now that You have opened its gates and given us our own Jewish State, in such a miraculous fashion, how can I turn my back on the blessing which You have bestowed upon us. Don’t allow me to crumple under the weight of a hundred worries and seemingly justifiable excuses. Strengthen me and don’t let my yetzer hara triumph over me by persuading me to live in a foreign Gentile land when I can dwell in the Land of the Jews, the Promised Land, where You have commanded me to live.
Please G-d, fill my heart with trust in You and with holy courage, for I know from the Talmud that three things are acquired through sacrifice and suffering: the Torah, the World to Come, and the Land of Israel.
Therefore, strengthen me on my journey and let nothing stand in my path.
Draw me to You like a magnet and let me rise higher and higher in Your service, always with the joy in knowing that I am doing Your will, and always remembering that whatever befalls me is to teach me in Your ways by making me into a better and more modest Jew.
Bring me to the Land of Delights, the Cherished Land, the Good Land, which lacks nothing, as the Torah avows, and let me always see the Land only in a positive way, always as the good Land, just as our teacher, Moshe envisioned the Land, and please don’t let the guiles of the evil inclination and the spirit of the Spies deceive me into having any negative thoughts or feelings whatsoever about Your holy dwelling place, the Land You have chosen for Your People for all generations, the Land which You love and care for out of all the countries of the earth.
Please, Father, my King, may my prayer of longing for the Land of Israel be pleasing to you, and may You bring me there as fast as possible, bring me home to our own Holy Land, along with the rest of the Jews who are still lingering in exile, before we sink into the darkness of foreign lands and become totally lost in their deceptive lures and values.
Please G-d, help me to always set Jerusalem above my highest joy, above every other desire and pleasure, and bring me there soon, to Zion, for on this my whole life depends, lest I die in a strange foreign land and never merit the greatest blessing of all – to be Your faithful servant in Your chosen Holy Land.
May the words of my mouth and the yearnings of my heart be pleasing before You. Amen.
Twelfth in Arutz Sheva's aliya series.
Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Jewish Culture and Creativity. Before making Aliyah to Israel in 1984, he was a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbis A. Y. Kook and T. Y. Kook. His other books include: "The Kuzari For Young Readers" and "Tuvia in the Promised Land". His books are available on Amazon. Recently, he directed the movie, "Stories of Rebbe Nachman."