Dead or Alive
Throughout the generations Jews in foreign lands have made a special effort to be buried in Eretz Yisrael. When this was impossible there were those who asked that some earth from the Holy Land be placed in their grave.
Where did this all begin and why?
The answer lies in this weeks Torah portion.
The deathbed wish of the Patriarch Yaakov was that he be buried, not in Egypt where he lived his last years, but in Eretz Yisrael. His son Yosef, the Egyptian potentate whom he asked to arrange this for him, repeated the same wish to his brothers. The wishes of both were fulfilled, Yaakovs upon his passing and Yosefs when his people were liberated from Egyptian bondage.
Our Talmudic Sages saw a great spiritual significance in becoming a part of the Holy Land after death. But they saw an even greater significance in becoming a part of Eretz Yisrael while still alive. Despite all the problems facing our beloved country in terms of security and economics, it is hard to recall a time in the history of our two millennia exile when it was easier for a Jew to come to Eretz Yisrael and improve the spiritual status of himself and his family. The more Jews who realize this and seize the opportunity for aliya, the greater the guarantee for Israel forever.