The land of Israel is a crucial topic in the religion; we see how important it is all through out the Torah. We saw in Parshat Lech Lecha how G-d promised Abraham that the land of Israel will become an eternal heritage to his descendants, the Jewish people.

Abraham spent some years living in Israel and we see in Parshat Vayigash, after Yaakov and his sons lived there they moved in to the land of Egypt and dwelled in Goshen, after the death of the 12 tribes and the slavery of the Jews, Hashem gave the Jews the Torah and moved them in to the wilderness for forty years, in preparing themselves into going to the land of Israel.

Israel is a place of Holiness (Kedusha) and the mitzvah of living in the land is huge. Likewise though, transgressions done in the land of Israel are much more severe than outside the world. When the 12 spies went to check out the land of Israel (as related in parshat Shelach), 10 of the spies, slandered the land of Israel, in turn Hashem meted them out with the punishment of death. We actually see in this weeks parshah (Acharai Mot) how Hashem cannot tolerate sins caused in Israel, ‘so that the land not vomit you out also when you defile it as it has vomited out nations before you,’ (Vayikra 18:28) Just as the tabernacle rested in the land of Israel, so did the two Temples, the first one being made my King Solomon.

Hashem’s shechina dwells mostly towards the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem. It was Joshua who escorted the Jews in to Israel and divided the land among the various tribes. For a period of time, the united twelve tribes were led by a series of rulers known as Judges. Solomon built the first temple in Israel, however after his death, his son Rechavim took charge of the land, and the kingdom got divided up as Yeravim Ben navot from the tribe of Ephraim gathered 10 tribes and moved away from Jerusalem, where Judah, parts of Shimon and Benjamin lived. (As related in book of Chronicles and Kings). This caused many problems, eventually leading to the exile of the 10 tribes as Israel was conquered by the Assyrian ruler Shalmaneser with the elite of these 10 tribes being exiled to Aram-Naharaim, Assyria and Media.

In the Jewish year 3338, Nebuchadnezzar finally exiled all the Jews in to Babylon, where the Jews went into exile for 70 years. As his sidekick, Nebuzardan, destroyed the temple. The Jews in Babylon never lost the affinity they had for Jerusalem as well as their faith in salvation. Around 70 years later the Jews in Babylon were allowed to return to the Land of Israel, due to Cyrus's declaration, the decree of Cyrus, the ruler of the Persian Empire that had conquered the region and then allowed the Jews the right to go back to Jerusalem, and rebuilt the temple. Around 50,000 Jews, led by Zerubabel returned to the Land of Israel and built the Second Temple of Jerusalem, A second group of 5.000, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, returned to Israel (as related in the book of Ezra and Nehemiah) After the second temple was standing for 420 years, the Jews were defeated by the Roman emperors Vespasian and Titus. This was due to the transgression of baseless hatred and lashon hara between Jews.

Since the English year 1948 (year of Independence of land of Israel), Israel has been involved in a series of major military conflicts, including the 1956 Suez War, 1967 Six-Day War, 1973 Yom Kippur War, 1982 Lebanon War, and 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. There is huge Holiness to the land of Jerusalem and I will now speak about the Kotel (Western Wall) and its significance. It was around this area where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Yitzchak, Yaakov had his dream (in parshat Vayetze), Noach built an alter, King David discovered it to be area of the Temple, the two Temples stood, the tabernacle stood and much more. It is a place of massive importance for all Jews where the divine presence rests. Hopefully soon in our days we will be experiencing the rebuilding of the Third Temple!!!!!