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"So Ya'akov called the name of the place Peniel - 'For I have seen the Divine, face to face, yet my life was spared'" (Bereishis 32:31).

Many years ago, I wrote that that someone I know was having a hard time settling in Israel. He contemplated returning to the Diaspora, but his conscience bothered him about abandoning the Holy Land. In desperation, he approached Reb Binyamin Hatzaddik, Rabbi Binyamin Zilber shlita, and argued that it is written that "the whole earth is full of His glory" (Yesha'ayahu 6:3). "What, then, is the difference if I live in Israel or in the States?" he asked. "Hashem can be found all over!"

Patiently, Reb Binyamin explained to him. "You are definitely right. Hashem is all over. And in the United States too, if you look for Him, you will find Him. But the difference is that in Israel, if someone wants to ignore Him, he has to close his eyes and turn his back to Him! Because here, the Hashgachah (Divine Providence) is so much more visible."

Those who are privileged to live in the Holy Land can bear witness that the Rabbi's words are definitely true. The revelations of Hashem's presence are so often and so clear that sometimes it is mind-boggling.

My daughter, Esty, helps her husband Eliezer, who heads an outreach project for university students in Carmiel. Last week, she interviewed 2 girls who came to enroll for the new semester. Upon inquiring about their background, one of them said that she and her family all knew absolutely nothing about their Jewish roots. She had thought it would be nice to check out and so she had encouraged her friend, the second girl, to attend classes with her.

The second girl, however, said that her family, although not at all observant, did know a bit about the Tradition and that her mother was studying Torah with a Rabbi's wife. Esti remarked that if that were the case, then her mother probably would be happy that her daughter signed up for this course. The girl replied that not only would she be happy, but that, actually, what happened was amazing. Just yesterday, she said, her mother had told her teacher that she wished that her daughter would study about Judaism too. The Rabbanit replied that surely Hashem would help and she would soon get an interest to study the Torah too.

Just a few hours later, her friend invited her to join the course with her!

(I wanted to write another story I just read in Borechi Nafshi, but I was just informed that my father just passed away - may he rest in peace - and I must end here.)

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel