The second phase of coming into the Land of Israel is the work of settling the land. This is the vigorous labor of building homes, tilling fields, planting trees, establishing government, etc. It is the toil of integration–the process of sinking roots. Psychologically, this entails training every aspect of the self–the physical as well as the spiritual–to adapt to these changes. In Judaism, this is accomplished through Torah study, fulfillment of commandments, and prayer.
This is also where the religious educator or spiritual mentor becomes most useful to the student seeking meaningful spiritual growth. He can assist the student by clarifying issues and giving encouragement. Frequently, such advice is based on the premise that changes in character traits can be facilitated by studying what the Torah teaches about the problem, as well as strengthening and perfecting the specific spiritual task (mitzvah) that relates to that quality or change the student is seeking to make.
Of immeasurable aid in this process is prayer. First, prayer is meditation that arouses wholesome, rectified emotions. These emotions motivate healthy behavior and thus exert a powerful cleansing influence on the student’s character. Second, prayer is heartfelt devotion–both as expressed through the formal liturgy and Psalms, and through the spontaneous outpourings of the heart. (We will address this issue in detail in subsequent chapters.)
Change can only be accomplished through hard work–both spiritual and physical. Yet, God guarantees that if we labor in good faith, He will bless our efforts and ensure their fruition in growth and change.