ברכות ה,א – שלוש מתנות נתן הקב”ה לישראל, וכולם לא נתן אלא על ידי ייסורים, ואלו הן: תורה וארץ ישראל ועולם הבא.

People like to quote this famous Gemara that Eretz Yisrael is acquired through suffering.

I wonder is there another way to acquire Eretz Yisrael?

What does it mean to acquire Eretz Yisrael?

Avraham Avinu journeyed with his father, Terach towards Eretz Yisrael. When they reached Charan they decided to settle there. The question remains, as to why Avraham did not proceed on the journey towards Eretz Yisrael?

The simple answer is that he felt that he should wait until after his father passed away, so he can properly honor his father. Based on the Mefarshim who learn that they went to Eretz Yisroel, as that is where Shem was, or because אֲוִירָהּ שֶׁל אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל מַחְכִּים, it would seem that Terach’s greatest wish would be that Avraham should continue. So, why did Avraham remain in Charan?

This question is one pondered by many Meforshim. I would like to focus on an explanation given by the Kedushas Levi, based on my understanding.

He explains that there are two levels of serving Hashem.

Level A:  Yirah – Fear/Awe of Hashem

Fear/Awe of Hashem comes with hard work, namely, learning and understanding torah, Davening properly, Doing Mitzvos and in general doing good things. One who has led his life in such a manner is able to then perform his actions with Yiras Hashem.

Level B: Ahava – Love of Hashem

If Yirah is on the surface, Ahava is digging down deeper and understanding what it is that Hashem really wants and what is believe dot him. In order to reach this degree of understanding, one needs to be meriltuous of Hashem’s revelation. With the revelation of Hashem, Hashem can then light up the way and show him who He is and then one can begin to love Hashem in the highest sense.

The Zohar explains that Avaraham Avinu understood that Eretz Yisrael is such a powerful land that as soon as one is there, one can understand how to serve Hashem in the highest and most perfect way. Therefore, Avraham embarked on the journey from Ur Kasdim to Eretz Yisrael.

The Kedushas Levi explains based on Midrashim  that the reason why Avraham stayed in Charan is that Charan is a reference to Yirah. Meaning, Avraham analyzed himself and he realized that he had ascended  in his Avodas Hashem and was in a state of serving Hashem with Yirah properly and on the highest level, so he stayed and continued to serve Hashem this way on this level.

Later, Hashem said to Avraham לך לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך go forth to the land that I will show you.

Hashem had to show him and lead him to the land, as one can only properly see the land through the revelation of Hashem, which is Ahava. Meaning when Hashem said Lech Lecha, He was saying, ‘Avraham, I will now bring you to the level of ahava, this is Eretz Yisrael”

Hashem did not show Avraham what Eretz Yisrael was, rather Hashem showed him what Ahava was.

One needs Yirah in order to enter Eretz Yisrael. Once one is in Eretz Yisrael, if he is on the level of being able to have Gilui Shechina, then he can serve Hashem in the highest possible way – with ahava.

Perhaps, based on this we can explain that one does not necessarily need to suffer in order to acquire Eretz Yisrael. Perhaps the suffering is a way to bring ourselves to a higher level of yirah and then we can serve Hashem properly in the highest way.

Perhaps the word נקנית (acquire) means the ability to serve Hashem B’Ahava

On a practical level, for those of us who are in Eretz Yisrael already B’H, perhaps we can do some deep thinking to understand what we are here for. Are we here because it is trendy or to be part of a historical process. Perhaps we are here because we want to serve Hashem properly we want to be better Jews. Let us look for that Giluy Shechina that comes to us and truly acquire the level of Eretz Yisrael in our Avodas Hashem.

When the Gemara said that one cannot acquire Eretz Yisrael without suffering, perhaps it means that at the low level we are on, the only way we can be מתקן ourselves and get to the highest form of yirah is through suffering.

I end off with a bracha that Hashem should give us a complete tikkun and mechila without the yissurim and we should all be zoche to Eretz Yisrael in the highest and deepest ways.