This appeared originally on Aish.com
Three reasons why everyone should grab the opportunity if they can.
Last week the wonderful opportunity arose for me to take a day off and go to Israel to attend my nephew’s bris. Going to a nature reserve for some bird watching or a farm for some blueberry picking are fun activities to do on a day off. How does it make sense to drive three hours to the airport, wait three hours for my flight, take a 10-hour flight, spend one day in Israel for the sake of a 2-minute service and breakfast, and go to the airport that night and do the same exact thing, only this time it’s a 12-hour flight since I’m flying against the wind?
I can tell you that it was 100% worth it, I would do it again without question, and I highly recommend you take a day off in Israel as well, for the following three reasons.
Reason #1: Israel is a place like no other. Any opportunity to go there is an outstanding privilege that should not be passed up. We are talking about the land that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob treaded with their own two feet. This is the place that Moses so desperately desired to go, but tragically couldn’t. This is a place that we have been exiled from for the last 2000 years. This is where God’s presence is so concentrated and easily perceived, where miracles happen every single day.
This is the center of the universe where being a Jew comes naturally. As I once heard quoted by a great rabbi, being Jewish in America is like being a Polar Bear in the Bronx Zoo. Being Jewish in Israel is like being a Polar Bear in the North Pole. How could I have passed up the opportunity to be in Israel even for one day? Just think what millions of Jews brutally persecuted in the Diaspora over the past 2000 years would have given for one day in Israel?
As I got out of the car Sunday evening in a lovely, quiet town called Nof Ayalon, I took an intense, deep breath, filling my lungs with the pristine, holy air of Israel, and I would have been content getting back in the car, going to the airport and heading home. That one breath of Israel reinvigorated me, rejuvenated me and reignited a spark from deep within me that words cannot adequately describe.
Reason #2: I was able to be with my family who I rarely see, at a major joyous life cycle event. If there is one thing my Pops taught me growing up, it is that family is everything. I was blessed growing up in a beautiful, loving family. In addition to my wife and kids, there is no one I would rather spend the holidays with than my Momma and Pops, my bro and his family, and my baby sister and her family. I was also able to see my uncle, aunt and four little cousins. Being with my loving family at such a collective, joyous event, celebrating the bris of my nephew, welcoming him into God’s eternal covenant with the Jewish People, was nothing less than magical. As my brother-in-law declared at the bris, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has enabled me to live, and has sustained me, and has brought me, to this season.”
Reason #3: My day off in Israel drove home a crucial lesson. The Mishna states: The day is short, but there’s a lot of work. Our time in this world is limited and the clock is ticking. Being in Israel for all of one day drove this point home. I had 24 hours in Israel. What was I going to do with them? Was I going to use those precious hours reading ESPN articles or playing snake on my phone? Or was I going to cherish every one of my precious moments in the Holy Land? My one day in Israel made me realize I had no time to waste. I had to wisely use every second.
And looking back, sitting on the plane flying home, I cannot believe that it was only yesterday I landed. It feels like an entire week ago! In the last 24 hours I bonded with my parents, sister, nephew, brother-in-law, aunt, uncle, four little cousins, and my sister’s amazing in-laws. I also learned Torah in Israel, prayed at the Western Wall, visited some old friends, went to my rugelech guy, and falafel guy, ate a mind-blowing sufganiya, and engaged in one of my favorite Israeli pastimes by shmoozing with an Israeli taxi driver. I accomplished an enormous amount in one day. Imagine how much I could accomplish if I use my time so efficiently 365 days a year for 120 years? The potential is endless.