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ERETZ Furio Aharon Biagini/English

Eretz, the word that gives this exhibition its title in Hebrew means "land". From the first summoning call of Abraham to the foundation of the Jewish people in Sinai, the Jews have a special relationship with the land, specifically with the promise the Holy One gave to the Israelites.. In biblical history there are fierce battles for the conquest of the land, but what Israel takes from the literature is that the Eternal gives the Chosen People the indispensable element to call themselves such: a land on which to serve Him.. For Israel, the land is not motherland, but land- bride. A land that Israel must accept, on a daily basis, with which to establish a unique relationship, since only on that land can it fulfill all the Mitzvòth, the 613 precepts that every Jew must observe. 

The Land: a precise, concrete place, given by the Holy One. Given, however, with conditions.. In the Torah, whenever the Eternal speaks to Israel about the land, it is understood; "If you keep the precepts. If you are faithful ". And whenever Israel is not faithful, the first gift that is taken from it is the land. And because it is given, because it is a gift, the land must be a land of hospitality. It is not owned by the Jewish people (just as the Earth is not owned by man). In residing there as a guest, the Jews have a duty to exercise the same hospitality towards foreigners that Israel benefited from when it was also a stranger. Israel is therefore a "foreigner" and "tenant" on that same land, it cannot claim the right of possession on it and can inhabit it only with the awareness and recognition of being guests there.

The verse of Leviticus should therefore be translated as follows: "Since the earth is mine, you can only remain there as guests, hosted by me, the Host". The affirmation that "the earth is of the Lord" finds its deepest and original meaning in the institution of hospitality where the appearance of man in the world coincides with his own being welcomed and hosted. Precisely because we live, in a world that has been given , man cannot rightfully pronounce the verb to have or the possessive "mine". 

The real land or the true homeland of man is where the language of wonder, welcome and gratitude is spoken; like in this land of Puglia, which has been sympathetic and welcoming to those who came from the Hell of the Nazi concentration camps and here they returned to life and found hope. In this sense, then, as the Masters teach us, the whole earth becomes the Holy Land. 

It is not so important to live in Eretz Israel, which maintains a special status, in order to observe the law. By decentralizing holiness and making it transferable it is possible to allow a relationship with the sacred everywhere and at all times. This idea sanctifies the whole earth and urges us, as Jews and as men and women, to create a religious and emotional bond with our planet. We cannot exempt ourselves from making this land a place where the presence of the Eternal, the Shechinà, may reside, so that the whole earth becomes a holy place to live. 

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