In Parshat Toldot, at the beginning of Breisheet, Chapter 26, there is a famine in the Land and Yitzchak goes down to Grar (the Gaza strip).
In verses 2-3 we read:
God appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt. Settle (Shechon) in the Land that I will make known to you. Stay temporarily (gur) in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands…”
We learn in Bresiheet Raba 64:3: The land that you should live in temporarily is Grar, a place of poor soil, and you shall permanently dwell in the rest of Israel- cultivate the land, be a sower, be a planter- plant seeds, plant trees.
Breisheet Raba also brings another interpretation- Shechon- cause the Shechina (Divine Presence) to dwell in the Land.
Rav David Avraham Spector teaches that not only should we not leave the Land of Israel at a time of crisis, it is the time to develop settlements and agriculture. By building up, settling and cultivating the Land, we will cause the Divine Presence to rest there like it says in Shmot 25:8: “They shall make me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst.”
The Bach (Orach Chayim 208) teaches about the holiness of the fruits grown in the Land of Israel:
The fruits of the Land of Israel are nurtured by the holiness of the Shechina which dwells in the Land. That is why we say the “Bracha Me’ein Shalosh” after we eat fruits from the seven species of Israel: “to eat its fruit and to be sated with its goodness.” When we eat the fruits from the Land of Israel we are being nourished by the holiness of the Shechina.
We complete the bracha with “al peiroteha,” “on her fruit” when the fruit of the seven species was grown in Israel, as opposed to “al hapeirot,” “on the fruit” when the fruit was grown outside of the Land. This is a constant reminder to appreciate the fruits that are grown in Israel which are imbued with an extra element holiness.
On Simchat Torah, in addition to the tremendous loss of life, Hamas destroyed a lot of the crops in Southern Israel by burning down the farms and fields on the kibbutzim. They also murdered and kidnapped many of the foreign workers from Thailand who worked in the fields. Most of the surviving workers were brought back to Thailand.
Moshe Saiid who was best known as Dod (Uncle) Moshe, an Israeli version of Old MacDonald, was murdered on his Kibbutz, Nir Oz and his wife, Adina was taken hostage and is in Gaza. His company, Dod Moshe, promises to continue working the fields to produce the best vegetables including potatoes, radishes and carrots.
Israelis are stepping up to the plate and volunteering to help pick all types of produce including avocados, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. We need more Israelis to seriously consider working in agriculture in order to continue the mission of settling the Land of Israel and benefitting from its produce.