22 Sivan 5776
In response to my post for Parshat Sh'lach last week, this is the question I received as a comment: "Are you a dirt worshipper?" Since this week is Parshat Sh'lach in the Diaspora, it is still relevant, so I will answer this question now.
If by "dirt worshipper" the commenter means as follows...
"For Your servants hold dear her stones and cherish even her dust." (Tehillim 102:15)
The touching scene of Jews kissing the earth upon their arrival in Eretz Yisrael has its roots in the words of King David and in the actions of our Talmudic Sages. Rabbi Abba kissed the rocks at the port of Acco. Rabbi Chiya bar Gamda rolled in the dust of the land. Rabbi Chanina went even further by repairing the roads so that his beloved country would not have a bad reputation with those who traveled upon them. (Kesuvos 112)
...then I must plead guilty. I think Eretz Yisrael is the most beautiful land on the face of the Earth and I never tire of extolling her virtues to whomever is willing to listen. It's our marital home with HKB"H. How can I not love it? Every image of her thrills my soul.
Every day I look out across the hills of the Judean Desert towards the towers and spires of Holy Yerushalayim and I thank God and I think dayenu!
I listen to the happy little birds singing their hearts out from the walls and the trees and I know that this is the song they sing so joyfully - every single day: The Beautiful and Holy Land of Israel!
May we merit to witness the elimination of all idolatry and houses of avodah zarah from our Holy Land.
See also: Ohr Somayach's Love Of the Land Archives - Selections from classical Torah sources which express the special relationship between the People of Israel and Eretz Yisrael