What about Israel do you find most special?
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This question has unlimited answers. Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi (1075-1141) and Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook (1865-1935) both teach us about the holiness embedded in the Land itself.
Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi , Kuzari 2:16, 20
Abraham was not fit to gain the Divine Influence, and to enter into a Covenant with God until he came to the Land of Israel. The Land was even granted its own Sabbaths, as it is said, “Sabbath of the Land” (Vayikra, 25:6) and “The Land shall keep a Sabbath unto the Lord” (Ibid, 2)….
Thus the “Sabbaths of the Lord” and the “Festivals of the Lord” depend on the Land which is the “inheritance of the Lord.” It is also called “His holy mountain,” “His footstool,” “the Gate of Heaven,” and it says, “For the Torah shall go forth from Zion” (Micah, 4:2). Our Forefathers endeavored to live in the Land while it was in the hands of pagans, they yearned for it, and had their bones carried there, as with Jacob and Joseph. Moses prayed to see it, and when this was denied him, he considered it a profound misfortune. Thereupon it was shown to him from the summit of Pisgah, which was to him an act of grace.
Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook
The Talmud teaches “Rebbe Abba used to kiss the boulders of Akko (Ketubot 112a).”
Rabbi Kook asks, “What was so special about these rocks? Why did Rebbe Abba kiss
the rocks as opposed to the ground itself?” Rabbi Kook explained, “Had Rebbe Abba
kissed the ground itself we might have thought that he did so because the earth yields
fruits. Rebbe Abba kissed the boulders, which are incapable of producing fruits, and
therefore demonstrated that his love for Eretz Yisrael was unconditional and the sanctity
of the Land is embedded in the Land itself.
(Based on An Angel Among Men, Simcha Raz, p.272)
Video based on story told by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
A rendition of the story appears in Tzlotana Barbara Midlo, Lamed Vav, p.79
Rabbi Avraham Dov of Avritch (1765-1840) served as a rebbe in the Ukraine. At the age of 65 he made aliyah to Tzfat where he served as an Ashkenaz rabbi. He is famous for his book on Chassidut called Bat Ayin. Just before Rabbi Avraham Dov passed away in the epidemic of 1840, he announced that his would be the last life claimed by the terrible plague. And so it was. Reb Avraham Dov is buried in the holy cemetery in Tzfat. The synagogue where he served as the rabbi still stands today and is used for prayer for the community. The synagogue carries his name, the ‘Avritcher Shul.’