A Spiritually Feminine Perspective

There’s something about the Land of Israel. An invisible tether which tugs every Jew toward our homeland, and as a student, professional, wife, mother, and grandmother, my home is always there for me when I need it.

An Inherited Love: A Child’s Perspective

I have vivid memories as a little girl sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast beside my father whose ear was tuned to the news. Israel was always on my father’s mind, especially as those were the days of the Yom Kippur War, the victory at Entebbe, and the fight for Israel’s continued precarious existence. I grew up with the voices of Henry Kissinger and Golda Meir in my home. Even so young, I understood how remarkable it was that the Prime Minister of Israel was a woman. I just knew that what happens in Israel is important in my home in Brooklyn. We always prayed for the people in the Land of Israel, and I counted down the days until I would finally get to visit our Holy Land.

I attended a Bais Yaakov school from elementary through seminary, and the importance of the Land of Israel, Eretz Yisroel, was ingrained by my teachers as an intrinsic part of who we are, not only as Jews but as women. Though so many of us live in the Diaspora, the heart of the Jewish people is in Israel.

Even more, the unique love the Jewish women have for Israel didn’t only start 75 years ago when our home became a state, but well before we even reached the Promised Land.

In school we studied the story of the Meraglim, the spies, sent from the desert to scout out the land before conquering. “Send for yourself men,” G-D told Moses, when asked about sending spies. Commentators agree this curious wording is because G-D was leaving the decision in Moses’s hands. Twelve men went and only two came back with a favorable report. The outcome of this scenario wasn’t exactly favorable.

We were taught that the great commentator Kli Yakar, citing Yalkut Shim’oni (Numbers 13:2:4), tells a different truth. The wording in regard to the spies was because G-D wanted Moses to send women not men, because unlike the men who wanted to return to Egypt, the women loved Eretz Yisroel and would have returned with a favorable report.

Along with this, the daughters of Tzelafchad inspired me as well. Again, the precisely worded Torah relates the story of five daughters whose father passed away, and they come before Moses to ask for an inheritance in the Holy Land. Moses didn’t know how to respond, and when he turned to G-d, He ruled in the favor of the women. The Torah doesn’t only relate to this to document laws of inheritance, but also to highlight the women’s deep love for Eretz Yisroel.

The Jewish women’s love of the Land of Israel is old as our nation itself, and three thousand years later my teachers ingrained that love in me as well.

As I grew older, one story in particular rooted deep. Every year on Tisha B’Av, we read about the promise G-D made to our matriarch Rochel recorded in Sefer Yirmiyahu (31:16, 17):

 כֹּה אָמַר ה׳, מִנְעִי קוֹלֵךְ מִבֶּכִי, וְעֵינַיִךְ, מִדִּמְעָה: טו כִּי יֵשׁ שָׂכָר לִפְעֻלָּתֵךְ נְאֻם-ה׳, וְשָׁבוּ מֵאֶרֶץ אוֹיֵב: וְיֵשׁ-תִּקְוָה לְאַחֲרִיתֵךְ, נְאֻם-יְהוָה; וְשָׁבוּ בָנִים, לִגְבוּלָם טז. 

A mother’s tears opened the heavenly gates prompting G-D’s promise to His children that we will one day return to our land. Our generation is witnessing the fulfillment of this prophecy, the land calling its people home, and no matter where we are or where we come from, we all want to be part of it.

My First Trip: A Young Professional’s Perspective

In 1983, I was working as a legal secretary and saving my money for the Israel Torah Tour. Back then there were no sponsored trips like the incredible Birthright program, so I worked for months, anxious to fulfill my dream of finally seeing the land I’d learned to love so much. The Torah Tour was a group of about 70 Bais Yaakov girls embarking on a six-week tour of the Holy Land. We saw it all. We climbed the mountains of Jericho, watched the sunrise at Masada, swam in Ein Gedi, and swayed and prayed at all the holy sites we’d learned about. History wasn’t for the past but a living testament to the strength and endurance of our people. Rachel’s Tomb wasn’t just a centuries-old gravesite, but a witness of the promise G-D had made that Rachel’s children would indeed return, and not just for six weeks, but forever.

The first time I welcomed Shabbos in prayer at the Kosel Friday night, I was glued to the stone fence surrounding the area. Tanach is replete with references to Kibbutz Galuyos, the gathering of exiles, and the prophecies were unfolding right in front of me. Jews from around the world, diverse ethnicities, cultures, appearances, and traditions, Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Chassidic, Mizrachi, young, old, observant, secular, traditional, or any other categorization of a Jew, were all there. Absolute pride for being part of such a people burned in my heart. Only in Israel can such a kaleidoscope of people unite as one in such joyous celebration and spiritual devotion. We are a people unlike any other, and only in our land do we fully see the truth that makes it so.

Each day was filled with the sound and sites and smells of the land, and each night I relived every experience, knowing deep down that now that I was learning to love the land all over again, I would be back. Something deeper than the places we visited was calling to me, the Kedusha, the spiritual holiness of the land which transcends the physical boundaries of time and place. I was finally beginning to understand how even in the desert, the women of the Torah could love the land so fiercely.

My Annual Prayer Trip: A Married Woman’s Perspective

During the years I worked as a legal secretary, I had a great job that suited the lifestyle of a young religious wife and mother. However, there was something about the environment that didn’t sit well with me. I struggled, should I stay in a job that seemed to check all the boxes or look for an office where I would feel more comfortable? I needed Divine guidance.

Every year, my husband makes an annual trip to Meron for Lag B’Omer to celebrate at the gravesite of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the Rashbi. Considering the decision I had to make, I joined my husband that year. In a city packed to bursting with every kind of Jew, at the gravesite of a rabbi who transcends every division of the modern age, I poured out my heart to G-D, begging for a sign.

When we returned from our trip, my husband told me there was a message for me on the answering machine. (That ancient communication device before cell phones, emails, and texts.) The message was from an employment agency I had interviewed at a while ago, telling me about an opening at a law firm in Manhattan. They were looking for a secretary familiar with Hebrew because the firm had an exchange program with a law firm in Israel. Hello, sign!

I was assigned to work with a young Israeli lawyer, and she and I are still friends today. That year, I decided that I would be traveling to pray in Meron every year.

My Children Studying in Israel: A Mother’s and Grandmother’s Perspective

Like the generations of women before me, my love for the Land of Israel deepened through my children. I have three sons and three daughters, in that order, and when my sons went to learn in a post-yeshiva program in Jerusalem, it took a leap of faith to send them abroad to give them a once in a lifetime experience. Pride intermingled with fear, joy for what lay ahead mixing with any mother’s worries over the success and safety of her children. But, one thing was sure, spending time in Israel would be worth it. Not only would they gain their own experiences in our homeland, but they would also join thousands of other Jewish students in studying the Torah of our forefathers in the very land they walked.

As each of my daughters graduated high school, it came as no surprise that they also wanted to study in Israel. What was surprising (though with all I’d learned, it probably shouldn’t have been) was that my daughters’ love and connection to the land was so deep, they each “temporarily” moved back after they married so their husbands could have the unparalleled option of continuing their Torah studies in Israel.

I don’t know how many years “temporary” is supposed to be, but I’m now a long-distance savta watching my grandchildren grow and flourish in Israel. The sense of nachas, the pride and joy, I have for my Israeli grandchildren cannot be reduced to words.

Today: A Jewish Woman’s Perspective

My love for the land of Israel is a link in an unbreakable chain, implanted when I was a young child, rooted deep during my first visit, and only continues to grow and flourish over time. The ability to experience Judaism in Israel was only possible through divine providence Hashgacha Pratis and the sacrifice of so many Jews over the centuries. The sacrifices of those Jews who plowed the earth and made a desert bloom, those spiritual leaders who established academies for Torah learning, those who bravely fought off our enemies, those who labored to form a state and functioning government, those who prayed and studied fervently, and those who continue to support, visit, and defend the land today.

I’m proud to see how advanced Israel has become in high tech and its infrastructure. I’m so proud to see how Torah learning in yeshivas has burgeoned and flourished, and I’m so proud to be a part of a people for whom love of our homeland is intrinsic to who we are, it unites us in a way unlike any other.


Ruchie Freier is a proud mother and grandmother. She’s also an Acting State Supreme Court Justice in Kings County, Brooklyn, NY.  Prior to becoming a judge she was a social activist for youth at risk. She’s a volunteer paramedic and director of Ezras Nashim, an all women’s volunteer ambulance service. Judge Freier has been invited to lecture around the world and offer her perspective of Jewish affairs and public policy