Taste of Hebrew title graphic


September

Érets Yisraél (Ashkenazi: Érets Yisróel) 'The Land of Israel'
'Yitzhak isn't here, he's in Erets Yisroel for his sister's wedding.'


For over 2000 years, since the close of Bible times,Erets Yisrael was the name by which Jews the world over knew their tiny land -- or plain Erets. Names like 'Palestina' were alien. In 1948, after hurried consultations (funny how people leave things to the last minute), it was decided to name the new-born Jewish State Medinat Yisrael 'the State of Israel' -- but to this day, many Ultraorthodox Jews in the USA and elsewhere, whether out of custom or out of objection to Israeli secularism, still call it Eretz Yisroel.
    And why Yisrael? Because Yisrael , meaning 'overcoming a mighty force', was the name given to Jacob following his struggle with an angel -- and his descendants, from the outset, were called BneiYisrael 'children of Israel' or simply Yisrael 'Israel'.

When Yisrael (the Jewish People) are worthy, the land is called Erets Yisrael ; when they are unworthy, it is called Erets Kenaan (The Land of Canaan).
The Zohar (the classic book of Kabbalah)

Erets Yisrael is not something apart from the soul of the Jewish people; it is no mere national possession, serving as a means of unifying our people and buttressing its material, or even its spiritual, survival. Erets Yisrael is part of the very essence of our nationhood; it is bound organically to its very time and inner being. Human reason, even at its most sublime, cannot begin to understand the unique holiness of Erets Yisrael.
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (modern mystic)



By kind permission of Oxford University Press,
publishers of The Joys of Hebrew by Lewis Glinert.



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Last Modified February 12, 2006