Learning from the Land

When Dovid Hamelech (King David) said, “I lift my eyes to the hills…”1 what was he teaching us? When Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk ז”ל wrote “…the Land of Israel has a soul…2 What did he mean?

Soul implies life, awareness, individuality, and self-expression. But how can skies, mountains, rivers, or trees speak? Any perception of beauty transforms us, and studies in aesthetics have established that a universally shared perception of beauty is hidden within landscapes.3

The Land of Israel “speaks” with twelve distinct voices corresponding to the twelve sons of our forefather Yaakov (Jacob). Through traditional Torah texts and close observation of nature we can perceive the eternal resonance between each of the Twelve Tribes and the natural qualities of their nachala (inherited allotment) in Eretz Yisrael. This correspondence also relates to the particular spiritual qualities of the Hebrew calendar’s twelve lunar months.4

On this page I’ll be sharing pictures of Israel’s landscapes month by month, nachala by nachala, because each region is imbued with a special grace – חן – (chen) that reveals particular facets of our heart.

The varied landscapes of Eretz Yisrael, when seen in Torah’s light, become bright, clear mirrors in which we can glimpse our hidden potentials — as individuals and as a People. Through exploring, month by month, each nachala, we can deepen our appreciation for the inner dimensions of Israel to become worthy of becoming part of her soul and her song.

קְחוּ מִזִּמְרַת הָאָרֶץ בִּכְלֵיכֶם

Take, in your vessels [or musical instruments], the produce [literally ‘melodies’] of the Land…” 

Bereishis 43:11

מִכְּנַף הָאָרֶץ זְמִרֹת שָׁמַעְנו

From the furthest reaches of the Land we heard song…”

Yishayahu 24:16


Show 4 footnotes

  1. Tehillim (Psalms) 121
  2. M. M. of Vitebsk, in a letter to his congregants written from Eretz Yisrael.
  3. Dutton, D. citing Alexander Melamid (2002) Aesthetic Universals
  4. B’nei Yissachar, Rabbi Zvi Elimelech ben Pesach Shapiro of Dinov.
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9 thoughts on “Learning from the Land

  1. Ayelet Hashachar, Little Stranger, How did she know, Why is this night different… The profound influence these songs have had on so many influential young creative minds can’t be overstated, We were inspired to translate our heritage into a fresh and vibrant reality, We found our voice and it was honest and confident. We were shown the poetry of Yiddishkeit for a new era and we would never be the same.

    • Thank you for your kind comment! I hope we can use the technology wisely to bring light into our lives, and our world. With you!

      • i am so happy i found this site. I saw you in concert many years ago and have your CD with Little stranger and How did she know, etc. I find your muisic real, touching and inspirational.
        Do you have a CD with these songs? And do you LIghts on a CD or DVD?

        • Glad to connect! Yes, I have CDs of songs and Lights. I’ll contact you at your e-mail address to give you information on how to order. If you want to hear my music for free – you’re always welcome to visit my YouTube channel called “10andnot9″ – Hanukah Samayach!!!!

  2. Ashira,
    I was so excited to come upon your website and youtube videos. I unfortunately misplaced your tapes long ago (I had the first two) and recently I’ve been replaying some of your songs in my head (Castle of Water, Hello Little Stranger) and wondering how I could get hold of your music again. When I originally heard your music I was still a girl and didn’t fully appreciate it’s depth and I listened to it tonight with renewed appreciation. I was disappointed that Hello Little Stranger wasn’t on your youtube channel. Please let me know how I can order your CDs. Thank you!


  3. I just came upon your you tube channel and I am so excited. I used to listen to your cassette day in and day out while I was learning in Neve Yerushalayaim in 1985. At the time, I was so confused as to what path to choose. Almost 30 years later, as I sit in my kitchen on a Thursday night cooking for Shabbos for my family, I can’t thank you enough for your beautiful songs. They were so inspirational to me then and they still are. Thank you.

    • Stephanie, thanks so much for your comment! The whole idea for Ashira back then was to strengthen a sense of community, and these heart to heart connections are lifelines that nurture in both directions. May Hashem stream blessings and light our way!

  4. Dear Ashira,

    Years and years ago I learned the midrash about Rachel from your song, taught by a counselor at a camp I attended when I was a kid. The song left such a powerful impression on me that I still sing it to myself every Tisha Bav, I still remember the music and lyrics well. I was singing it to my daughter and she was wondering if you would mind sending us the recording via email. If it appears on a CD we would be happy to purchase if you could let us know where and how.


    • Dear Atara,
      Thanks for being in touch! Yes, the song is on my second album, produced in 1985. I’ll be happy to send you a CD by exchanging e-mail addresses off-site and you can send payment after you receive it. Also, my most recent album, “Faith is Like a Garden” is available via download from i-Tunes. All the best!

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