Shalom to Everyone,
Minister of Education,
Participants of the International Bible Quiz for Young People,
And warm and special greetings to you, Shmuel Dovid Alpert, winner of the International Bible Contest,
It is not by chance that the Declaration of Independence begins with the words, “Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) was the birthplace of the Jewish people… [Here they] created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.”
The eternal Book of Books – the Bible – is the birth certificate and the identity card of the Jewish people. And if the Land of Israel is also called the Land of the Bible, it is because the Land is one of the central heroes in the Book of Books.
Another hero is, of course, the people of Israel, whose eternal bond with this Land is entirely rooted in the verses of the Bible.
The Land of Israel is won in several ways.
The most pleasant is by foot – by a direct path, through trips and journeys – in which its landscapes are revealed to man:
Breathe in the most beautiful of sunsets over the peaks of its mountains, be amazed by the flowering fields in the valley, by the beauty of the Judean desert, wander in its paths, quench our thirst from the waters of its springs, and rest in the shade of its trees.
During the Quiz, you displayed an enviable knowledge of Bible passages and a deep familiarity with the sources. These are wonderful things – but you must not settle just for that.
See in the verse from Genesis “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth” a command to act – and know the paths of this beloved land, which is your land.
I hope that in the trips you take across Israel, the Land will speak to you – and that you, when you hear its voice, will heed its call and come live here with us, in this nation which is also your nation, the nation of the entire Jewish people.
Until then, may you be blessed – and Chag Atzmaut Sameach.