Yehoshua Wiseman, Beis Yisroel, Yerushalayim
The blossoming of this Land of HaShem is a source of inspiration for me. It can be in the fields, by the trees, around the streams of water. In can be of the new Jewish homes being built, both the ones made of brick and mortar and the ones made of a chosson and kallah. As for the physical homes being built, I recently had the opportunity to say the bracha of Baruch Matziv Gevul Almanah [reinstating the border of the widow], said upon seeing a new neighborhood in Eretz Yisroel, with Sheimand Malchus [HaShem's Name and Kingship—Elokeinu Melech ha'olam]. As for the Jewish homes of new chassanimand kallahs—at every wedding here, when “Od Yishama” is sung, I practically cry. For some things, we don’t need faith here; we can actually witness the fulfillment of age-old prophecies in front of our eyes.
Eretz Yisroel is a Land of nissim. Of course, HaShem’s hashgacha is everywhere, but over here we really feel His hand while being cradled in His embrace. Every Jew who lives here can tell you how they feel and see His hashgacha in matters of chinuch, parnassah, and many other areas. I have personally seen so many miracles here with parnassah that they could probably fill an entire book. In this Land of emunah, HaShem guides you to find the resources for whatever you need. A reaction to your missing needs might include going to the koselto daven, saying tehillim, and singing to HaShem, to help make yourself a kli[vessel] for the reception of HaShem's bracha and hashgacha. If only for that, it would be worthwhile to live here. I also think that because of this closeness to HaShem, people here are happier.
The light of Torah seems to shine much more here. In chutz laAretz you may read about Avraham Avinu, but here, you can see where he walked and lived. You can go on a tiyul [trip] with the children and trace the footsteps of the personalities from Tanach. I feel there is more sincerity here. The discussions taking place here are more often about purpose in life and other such elevated subjects.
Yes, there is a strong battle going on here about the essence of Eretz Yisroel and Am Yisroel. Is a goy whose grandfather may have been Jewish, which the secular State is often importing to the country, considered a Jew? Is Eretz Yisroel the fertile ground for fulfilling Am Yisroel's national mission of being a mamleches kohanim ve'goy kadosh [holy and priestly nation] and an ohr la'amim [light unto the nations]?
Opening the gates for goyim is definitely an accursed part of the “Law of Return” of this still secular State, causing a serious problem of intermarriage that it doesn't yet seem to be bothered about. The fact that the law does allow for any Jew to come here is of course a blessing, but it must be utilized by each and every one. Every Torah observant Jew who is here pushes out more of the sitra achara [lit. other side; forces of evil]. Every Jew is critical in tipping the scales towards the G-dly enterprise of the supreme dominion and revelation of Torah. This is a great zechus, but it's also an obligation. We must be involved not only in our own issues, but also together as a nation in our Heavenly ordained joint enterprise.
A Jew needs mesirus nefesh to fight for a stronghold for kedusha and for raising the banner of Torah above this Land. Although it is a battle, we have here with us what Dovid HaMelech would say, “HaShem tzilcha al yad yeminecha” [HaShem is your shadow on your right hand]. We can feel “ke'ilu amaram Dovid HaMelech” [as if Dovid HaMelech himself had said those words (from the supplication after recitation of Tehillim)] for our own struggles, as he would for his own.
I've heard people say that if there weren't Jewish philanthropists in America, we would have no yeshivos here in Eretz Yisroel. I am sure that if all those people who are keeping the Torah were physically here, they would have much more of an impact on the government’s priorities.
Many tourists come visit my painting studio in the Old City. I try to pass my inspiration onto the canvas, with the intent of in turn inspiring the viewer, whether to aspire to higher levels of avodas HaShem, to arouse their love for Eretz Yisroel, or to increase their yearning for the Geula [Redemption] and for the Beis HaMikdash. I have goyish tourists who express interest in the paintings of visibly observant Jews davening in a forest or other such portrayals of authentic Jewish life. Even the goyimfeel that this is the real thing, the epitome of dignity, the ideal aspiration for kedusha. This is the truth about the observant Jew, and it contrasts starkly with the images created by some “outsider” non-observant artists who portray images of old and sad people. Those who keep the Torah are the real and vibrant expression of Jewish life—where is there a more proper place to express it on a national level than in Eretz Yisroel?
When I first came to Eretz Yisroel as a searching college student, I made it a point to immerse myself with Israelis, so I would know how to speak the language and otherwise get along easily here. It was then that I got to see many frum people from up close, something that had not happened in my hometown of Pasadena, California. It did not take too long for me to decide that I would also become observant.
Although I eventually ended up marrying an Israeli, I try to speak English at home, so my kids can know enough English to get by if they need it, even if they're not fluent in it.