Around the Campfire: Soul Searching in the Land of Israel

Israel.  It’s the only country in the world that’s universally recognized as “The Holy Land.” This land has earned its nickname.

For those seeking a path towards spirituality, Israel has so much offer.  Holy sites, places of worship, religious institutions, and graves of the righteous can be found everywhere in the country. But there’s another aspect of Israel that speaks to the spirit: the physical land itself. 

Hiking through forests, dipping in hidden springs, and walking through the silent deserts of Israel inspire my soul.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, a late 19th century Jewish mystical thinker believed that connecting to the actual, physical, Land of Israel was one crucial part of spirituality. As he wrote, “The Land of Israel has intrinsic meaning.  It is connected to the Jewish people with the knot of life.  Its very being is suffused with extraordinary qualities.”

When I walk through Israel, I feel inspired: by the incredible beauty and diversity of the land.  I feel inspired by the meditative deserts, which bring me back to the early days of the Jewish people.  As I wander through forests, I encounter ruins, whose remains lay crumbled under the tangled roots of tall trees. And I can’t help but think of the incredible circle of life.

Climbing a mountain, walking on the beach, seeing the power of a rushing waterfall – these things lead me to inner peace. 

In Israel more than any other country, almost every hiking trail bears testament to the spiritual nature of the land.  A trek to a cave is also a visit to ancient monasteries (Haritoun Cave). Even quiet little hilltops (like Tel Azeka) become journeys into Biblical battles of the past.

When we hike, I see wild wheat and olive trees.  I encounter sheep grazing and date palms.  Israel is the Land of Milk and Honey: spiritually, physically – they’re both connected.

The Land of Israel is not some external entity,” wrote Rav Kook.

For those seeking spirituality, hiking through Israel and connecting to the Land can take us further on the journey to true meaning.

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