Hiking in Israel

1 Jun

By Ilan Bloch

Image courtesy of zuzafun.com

As we begin the summer season of hiking and touring in Israel’s nature, it is pertinent to reflect on the writings of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Heschel argues that we must not take things for granted, that we must not assume that all can be understood by man or that every enigma can be solved. Man must approach God and His creation with a sense of awe, wonder and mystery. By doing so, man will be inspired to cleave to God and devote himself to the perfection of God’s creation. This radical amazement is both a pre-requisite for the higher levels of scientific knowledge and, in its archetypal state, represents prophecy itself.

Certainly, an increased sense of awe and wonder about the natural world around us can serve several positive purposes.

Firstly, it may lead man to understand that he is part of the natural order and that he does not exist outside nature as its master, and that he is therefore responsible for its stewardship, leading to a heightened sense of environment consciousness and responsibility.

Secondly, it might lead man to a higher level of spirituality/cleaving to God, which may bring about a better society, through man seeking to perfect God’s creation.

Thirdly, it might lead to a greater level of creativity, joie de vivre and a heightened appreciation for all beings and things extrinsic to oneself (which may lead to a less egotistical, competition-driven society).

As we hike on Israel’s trails this coming summer, let us appreciate not only what we can learn about Zionist/Israeli history, but also about our relationship to God, and our own spirituality.

Ilan Bloch is the Director of Teaching Israel.

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One Response to “Hiking in Israel”

  1. Norbert Lipszyc June 1, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    I like hiking in Israel, I like Heshel, I represent the SPNI in France. I love your commentary. I will make use of it. Every day I discover that sustainable development is already presednt in Talmudic litterature and we can find there all the principles to guide us to a sustainable world, and therefore enjoyable world.
    Keep this going

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