Kenneth Cohen

Feeling Israel’s Spirituality

In Parshat וילך, Moshe Rabbeinu tells the people that he is now 120 years old, and he is no longer able to continue with his life.

We learn from this statement that Moshe’s reason for living, was to constantly work at growing spiritually. If there was no spiritual growth, life was not worth living.
This is the reason why he longed to enter Eretz Yisrael. He saw that there were a number of commandments that could only be observed there. And their observance would allow him to grow spiritually, as he would be able to feel a closeness to G-d, not felt anywhere else in the world.

There were many more Mitzvot that were possible to be observed in Moshe’s time than there are today. There was a Mishkan, that was a portable Beit Hamikdash, with the Jews from the time they were in the desert. They were able to offer sacrifices, and do the daily Temple service.

For those of us who are privileged to live in Israel today, we are meant to feel that same spiritual elevation. Despite not having a Temple, there are numerous Mitzvot today, that are only observed in Israel.

We have just completed the Shmitta, or Sabbatical year. Fruits that came from fields left fallow, have intrinsic holiness, or Kedushat Shviit, the holiness of the Sabbatical year. It is quite special to partake of these fruits.

The Priestly blessing is recited every day in Israel, and only recited around ten times for Ashkenazi Jews outside of Israel. Fruits and vegetables in Israel need to be tithed, even today. There are even rules applicable today only in Israel, regarding first born animals, and gifts to the Kohanim.

In addition, the air of the Land of Israel is holy. And every four cubits we walk in this land is a Mitzva.

We should see ourselves as being fortunate to have these opportunities for sanctity that we did not have for nearly two thousand years. It is truly miraculous and remarkable that there are over seven million Jews now living in Israel.

It is my hope and prayer that all Jews will have this longing to grow spiritually in our Holy Land, as we observe Hashem’s commandments, and feel His closeness.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at