(Like) A Love Story
Eyal Dodson

Already in Kindergarten they built block towers together. Even in third grade, when the class decided on a mutual boycott between the boys and girls, Ami and Yisraela, without shame, were friends. In the boy scouts, when you saw Yisraela - you saw Ami, and when you said Yisraela, you said Ami, and when they reached 12th grade no one joked about them anymore. When they became youth leaders, of the same group of course, they were the only team that got along and never fought.

Once, Ami said to Yisraela that it was hard for him to explain, even to himself, how a relationship like this remained so strong even after so many years. Yisraela told him that it is something inside, deep in the heart, real, that makes her feel strong when she is with him, and without him she feels unnatural.

But one day, the whole school was shocked! Ami and Yisraela got up and simply, simply... broke up! At the school kid's council there were those that said that it must be the distance between the Yeshiva and the Ulpana. Others said it was the pressure of 12th grade studies. Others said that that's how things are when you get older, while still others just made dirty jokes. But the fact remained, and if you asked anyone there who still believed in love you would have gotten a unanimous answer.

A month passed and then two, a year passed and then two, and it seemed that the world, and even Ami and Yisraela, kept on living. Ami didn't even do so bad; every now and then he would show up with a girlfriend. Yisraela didn't show much interest in boys and there were those that said that deep down she always knew Ami would find his way back to her.

You might say it is the hand of fate, or just human weakness, or maybe it is the power of  love, but - Ami and Yisraela are once again in the headlines. True, they are big kids now - Ami is deep in Hesder and Yisraela after two years of National Service - But they are still in love, just like in third grade.

"Remember how we once tried to explain to ourselves what the meaning of  love is?" Ami asked one day of Yisraela."Yes", she smiled. "It's nice to remember..." "Today I think I can explain it to myself", he said. Yisraela waited with anticipation for the beautiful words she had wanted to hear for so long.

"I love you because it's fun to pass the time with you, and we like the same music, you dress just the way I like, and of course you are the prettiest girl in school, and exactly the right height for me, and..."

"Stop! Don't go on!" Yisraela cried out and burst into tears, "I thought you loved me because I was me!"

The story is real - only the heroes, the time, the surroundings and a few details are fictitious. Yes, the people of Israel and the Land of  Israel are a love story; a wonderful love that is revealed in the commandment to the father of our nation: "Go out of thy land... Unto the land that I will show thee". And it continues to be revealed for thousands of generations - in the land and during the long exile, in wars and in dreams, in commandments and in prayers, through fire and water - a wonderful bond between a nation and its country that dispersion, destruction and separation did not blur. A country that all the nations of the world tried to settle, while she waited, mourning and desolate, for her Israel.

And when generations of dreams are fulfilled, and the nation of Israel returs home, we find out what true love is: "We love you, oh Land of Israel, because you have security value and political value too, and you have wonderful scenery. And anyway, the weather is great, and of course, you are a safe haven for the Jews!"

"And if I wasn't safe, would you stop loving me?"

"Well..." stutter the People of  Israel, " I love you, I mean, I can't be without you, but you have to understand. If the Arabs and Americans press us..."

"Any love that is dependent on something", our sages wrote in 'Avot', "If that something is cancelled - then the love is cancelled. But love that is dependent on nothing - never cancelles."

" I live in Israel, because here I can have a true Jewish community". "I love the scenery in this country". "I think only the Land of  Israel can be a safe haven for the Jews". "I live here because I was born here, and my whole family is here". "I have historical feelings for the land". There are good reasons to love the land, but if I prove to you that a Jewish community thrives better in Brooklyn, and it can be safer for the Jews in Uganda or Arizona, and what if I like Switzerland's scenery better, and what will you say to him whose whole family is in England and he wasn't even born here??!

"If the something is cancelled," our sages said - That is, if the reason because of which you love disappears - the love itself will vanish.

But there is a love which is not dependent on anything. A belief that the bond between a Jew and his land is not like an Italian's bond to Italy, or a Canadian's bond to Canada. A belief that we are a special nation - unlike the other nations that have arisen because their people joined together in order make their material life better. Our purpose is to bring to the world the values of humanity and charity, truth and justice, to fulfill G-d's image in man. In order to fulfill those aims in the material world, the nation has to be in its own land, because its national development is not possible anywhere but in its national environment. This is not the natural bond between a nation and its land, a bond that was created after generations of national events and occasions. This a divine bond that began even before Abraham our forefather stepped into Israel, and has continued for thousands of years even after we were taken out of the land. This is a covenant between a nation and its G-d, and its bible. This is love that is dependent on nothing. This is pure Zionism. He who backs away from this covenant between himself and G-d, is bound to back away from other values, even from Zionism.

And that is what is happening to Israel's government today. Because anyone who explains his bond to the Land of Israel with political or defensive or financial reasons is capable of dispersing Jewish settlements. Can dry up and strangle even... Jerusalem. Because these places don't comply with the above reasons. And those who harm Jewish education today, tomorrow will have to explain their connection, not to Hevron or Katsrin or Shechem or Rafiach, but to Tel-Aviv, Naharia, Kiryat-Gat and even Jerusalem.

And so it happens that when the dream is fulfilled, and Ami and Yisraela are back together to build and be built, we find out that it is hard - that the Land of Israel is bought with pain and the living conditions are hard. The happiness of reunion dwindles and questions arise as to the future. When Rabbi Tsvi Yehuda Kook's (Z"ATSAL) students asked him during one of the hard times, "Rabbi, what will be?"   He answered: "Know that the hardest problem and the most complex is your worrying. The other problems are much easier to solve." The facts don't decide history, but how we relate to them. Man can weaken and break before reality, but he can strengthen too. Like a student who fails a test: he can either raise his hands in despair and give up or he can decide to take himself in his own hands.

What will be? We will strengthen, believe, and act. We will approach the present and future from the past and bless G-d that he has brought us this far. The joy in what exists, and the strength from our faith will push us forward. We will be the ones that spearhead the Zionist endeavor. We won't give up and won't let go. For that is why we are Bnei Akiva.