Connecting to Eretz Yisroel by Michael Winner/7/20/2023 Finally, my oldest daughter will be returning after a month-long exile from home! I think nobody is happier than her 12-year-old sister, who has done a great job taking her place with household chores, and has promised us that she will be going on HER vacation immediately.It was an interesting experience. When my daughter first came up with this idea of working at a camp with a friend, we were a bit hesitant. However, we made some calls to other parents who had sent their kids to do the same, and everybody responded positively, saying "she'll come back better."And while she hasn't come back yet, she has mentioned to us how surprised the Israeli girls were in regards to the spiritual level of the non-Israeli girls. Some people get this thing in their head when they live in Israel, they are automatically on a higher spiritual level than those living outside of Israel. (Perhaps 60 years ago there was something to it, but it was not automatic … but today … sorry.) So, it was a pleasant surprise for her to see that it certainly was not true; to the point that she and another girl from Bnei Brak were discussing what to take from the [spiritual] experience to bring home and how keep it."… as far as the Great River, the river Euphrates" (Devarim 1: 7).When commanding the Jewish nation to head towards Eretz Yisroel, Hashem refers to the Euphrates River as "the great river." Rashi writes that the only reason that the Euphrates is referred to as "the great river" was because of it's relationship with Eretz Yisroel.Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz cites a Midrash to bring out this point. Yosef was granted a burial in Eretz Yisroel because he was an "Ish Ivri" (a man from the other side [of the river]), referring to Eretz Yisroel. Yet Moshe, who was called an "Ish Mitzri" (an Egyptian man) was not.A person's connection to Eretz Yisroel, whether he is actually living there or living in another land, can have a positive impact on his spirituality. When he recognizes the greatness of Eretz Yisroel and the potential that is within Eretz Yisroel, and when he cleaves to it in his or her davening, he makes a connection to it.However, one should be warned that this does not come automatically.The Gemara (Kesubos 111a) says "Whoever lives in Eretz Yisroel lives without sin." The Pnei Yehoshua writes in his commentary, "It would appear that this is only true if the person lives there solely to fulfill the commandment of settling the land of Israel, in contrast with someone who only lives in Israel on a transient basis or because he was born there or because it is a nice place to live…"So it seems that our connection, whether by living in Eretz Yisroel or yearning for it, needs to be for spiritual reasons. Being, a person living in Chicago, yearning to return to Eretz Yisroel in all its spiritual glory, will have more of a connection to it, than a person who lives in Yerushaliyim simply because they were born there, who does not give any thought to the spiritual aspects of Eretz Yisroel.With that, I wish you all a "good Shabbos."