The Value of Burial in Israel
Yaakov, the last of the Avos, lives his last moments of life in a country full of idol worship and false philosophy. When Yaakov realized his death was near, he made Yosef promise to bury him in the Maarat Machpelah. Yosef, later on, does something similar in making Shevatim promise to bury him in Israel, and when the Shevatim couldn’t do it, their obligation carried to future generations.
The question is, what is so important about where you are buried? Once you have left this world and gone to Olam Haba, why should it matter where your physical body is?
We can see that Yaakov’s request of Yosef had three components: he shouldn’t be buried in Egypt, he should be buried in Canaan, and he should be buried in the Maarat Machpelah. Yaakov specifically didn’t want to be buried in the land of Egypt, where the people worshiped false gods and lived based on incorrect philosophies. This was his way of showing all further generations that he wouldn’t ever volunteer to live in an immoral country such as Egypt. This shows us how important it is to be in a morally correct society. Instead of being buried in Egypt, he wanted to be buried in Israel, more specifically in the Maarat Machpelah, in order to further establish the “Godly” way of living that the Avos before him represent. Certainly if Yaakov thinks its this important for a person to be buried there, more merit must be granted to a person who actually resides there. Israel represents the relationship between God and the jewish people through our forefathers, and living there means you’re putting faith in God’s protection. Even if you are not able to live in Israel, we see from here that just being buried there is enough to represent your faith in God.