By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
Praise of Eretz Yisroel’s greatness is seen many times in the Torah. We will discuss how this greatness impacts halacha. Chazal tell us that Eretz Yisroel is in the middle of the world. We know that the world is round, so how does the fact that Eretz Yisroel is in the middle of the world impact us? Some say that the climate of Eretz Yisroel is the average climate and therefore is considered the middle of the world. Halachically, we learn that Eretz Yisroel is used as a focal point regarding figuring out when the molad of the new moon occurs for the new month. According to the Chazon Ish, the day begins in Eretz Yisroel and therefore the time zones are affected since they are based on beginning there. This is why there is a machlokes regarding when Yom Kippur falls out in Shanghai.
We consider Eretz Yisroel to be the highest point in the world. This may not be true in the physical sense; however if one makes a neder that he will leave Eretz Yisroel and go to a higher country, the person receives malkus right away since it is considered a shavuas shav (swearing falsely and for naught.)
Eretz Yisroel is a place of mountains and valleys; therefore we may not daven for rains to stop. The halacha is that one is not supposed to daven for too much good and a hilly terrain thrives with lots of rain. The gemara says that the waters of Eretz Yisroel are very good; therefore the gemara says that doing laundry in Eretz Yisroel during the week of Tisha B’Av has the same quality as doing gihutz (ironing) in Chutz L’aretz.
In Eretz Yisroel there is no need to make the month of Elul an extra day while in Chutz L’aretz there may be such a need since we don’t want Yom Kippur to fall out on Friday or Sunday and it would affect having fresh vegetables and/or the burial of dead people. Since Eretz Yisroel has good air quality, the vegetables will not rot and neither will the meisim smell.
Based on the air quality in Eretz Yisroel, we say eretz tova urechava in bentching. Eretz Yisroel is also called an Eretz Chemda. The gemara has a tzad to say if someone doesn’t mention this in bentching, one is not yotzei.
There are other differences in halacha concerning Eretz Yisroel that we will not mention right now. Let us all daven that we should have all these brachos returned to us with Moshiach’s arrival and we will be zocheh to live inEretz Yisroel.