Shir Ha-Ma'alot #10

Second blessing of the Birkat Ha-Mazon

"Yehoshua established the blessing for the Land when they entered the Land" (Berachot 48b). Why did Yehoshua bin Nun connect the Land of Israel to the act of eating? Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzhak Ha-Cohain Kook, explained: Ostensibly a person eats for his own personal good, to benefit and strengthen his body. This is certainly proper, and nevertheless a person is called upon to exalt himself to a higher level than his personal existence, i.e. to be concerned about the entire Nation. Therefore, after one gives thanks to Hashem for the food which grants him natural existence, he is raised to an understanding that with this he is able to be a trustworthy member of his Nation, and to devote himself to building it in its Land (Olat Re’eiyah vol. 1, pp. 362-363). Our Rabbis, the Achronim (later authorities) considered why no blessing was established on the fulfillment of the mitzvah of settlement in the Land of Israel. The Vilna Gaon explained that in fact Yehoshua bin Nun, when he entered the Land of Israel, established this blessing in the prayer after eating for this very purpose.