For the week ending 21 May 2005 / 12 Iyyar 5765
The Stone Test
Last weeks 57th Independence Day was a cause for celebration by many Jews inside and outside Israel. The universal Jewish love for Eretz Yisrael and appreciation of its unique holy character finds expression in the story our Sages tell about Rabbi Chanina Hagadol.
On his way to Eretz Yisrael from Babylon he encountered no signposts or border guards to indicate that he had arrived in the land of his dreams. So he picked up stones along the way and felt their weight. As long as they seemed too light he discarded them. When he finally picked up stones of real substance he kissed them and declared that these were indeed "Eretz Yisrael stones".