A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey
Yael Eckstein | August 23, 2021
He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey… — Deuteronomy 26:9
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Ki Tavo, which means “when you have entered,” from Deuteronomy 26:1–29:8.
Israel is a land that is both old and new at the same time. It is home to the sites of the stories in the Bible, and it is a young country of recent immigrants who are building and growing. You can stand on a hilltop overlooking the Elah Valley where David killed Goliath and when you turn around, you see cranes lining the horizon, building neighborhood after neighborhood to house the ever-growing number of Jews who have returned home after thousands of years of exile.
It is a modern country with a cutting-edge high-tech economy, a center of innovation, as well as a place where ancient teachings and customs are meticulously preserved like nowhere else on earth.
As a Jew, Israel connects me to my future as well as my past.
A Land of Milk and Honey
I believe that this special combination is one of the deeper meanings of the famous biblical description of the Promised Land as a land flowing with milk and honey, mentioned near the beginning of this week’s Torah portion.
Milk is produced by mothers. The purpose of milk is to nurture the growth of the young so that they will be strong for the life that awaits them. Milk is about the future. Honey is different. One of the amazing and unique characteristics of honey is that it does not spoil. In fact, in the ancient world one of the main uses for honey was as a preservative. Even if honey is many years old, it will still taste just as sweet.
Israel is a land of both milk and of honey. Like milk, Israel nurtures the future of the Jewish people. It is a place where our people grow stronger and healthier as a nation. It is also the future hope of all people of Biblical faith as the center of God’s kingdom here on earth. At the same time Israel is a land of honey, preserving the history, traditions, and values that have been passed down since biblical times.
As people of faith, we celebrate both — old and new, ancient and future — in this land “flowing with milk and honey” that God calls His own.
What are some of the key values and stories from the Bible that you preserve? What are your hopes for the future?