In 1936, Britain sent the “Peel Commission” to Eretz Yisrael to decide whether to establish a Jewish State in Palestine or not. The commission asked the Chief Rabbi, the illustrious Rav Kook, the following question: Is Eretz Yisrael really important to Judaism and the Jewish people? Rav Kook replied: The land is so important to Judaism, that it is mentioned in almost every chapter in the Tanach and there is not even one chapter in the Holy Zohar where Eretz Yisrael is not referred to.
Hashem could not wait until the Revelation at Sinai to give us the crucial Mitzvot of the Torah. For example, the great Mitzva of Shabbat; already in the very first Parsha of the Torah, Parshat Bereshit, Shabbat is mentioned: “And G-d blessed the 7th day and sanctified it” (Chap II, verse 3). Similarly, Eretz Yisrael also had to be mentioned in Parshat Bereshit. The very first Rashi in the Torah highlights the significance of the Holy Land – that Am Yisrael is entitled to inherit and settle The Land since the Almighty created the world and gave Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish People.
We cherish and cling to Eretz Yisrael not simply as a Homeland for the Jewish People, but mainly in order to fulfill the Divine Will and Mitzvah of “You shall inherit it and dwell therin”. The importance of this Mitzva is explained by Rav Kook on the first page of his classic book “Orot”: “Eretz Yisrael is not something external, whose sole purpose is to serve as a means to an end – to serve as a Homeland, as a material basis for the nation, or even to serve as a base for the spiritual development of the nation; Rather, Eretz Yisrael is an intrinsic part of the nation, it is like a limb of the nation…….”