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The Mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel, By Rabbi Binyomin Radner

eretz yisroel tls 2The Source. The Torah states in Parshas Masei, 33:53 Vehorashtem es ha’aretz veyishavtem bah ki  lachem nasati  es  ha’aretz  lareshes  osah – And you banish the inhabitants of the land of Israel and then you shall live there, for to you I have given the land to conquer it.”

Rashi explains that the Pasuk is telling us that it is a mitzvah to banish the inhabitants of the land and that if this mitzvah is fulfilled properly, then we are assured that we will be able to live there. Meaning, the war of conquest for Eretz Yisroel is the actual mitzvah whereas the act of taking up residence living there is a havtacha and the reward for the war of conquest. But to live there is not a mitzvah per se in and of itself but rather a reward.

Ramban argues that it certainly is a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel as well, in addition to the war of conquest for the land. The mitzvah has two parts to it, first the war to conquer Eretz Yisroel and then to settle in the land. However, conquering other lands outside of Eretz Yisroel like the lands of Shinaar or Ashur would be in violation of the commandment, as it only applies to Eretz Yisroel. This Pasuk is the source for the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel and it is reiterated by the Torah in numerous places due to its paramount significance.

Ohr  Hachayim explains that at issues of debate between Rashi and Ramban is whether Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is a mitzvah in and of itself or just a havtacha, but not on the list of the 613 mitzvos which we are commanded in. Ramban holds that it is one of the 613 and Rashi holds it is not.   Ohr Hachayim himself sides with the view of Rashi that the mitzvah is only the war to conquer Eretz Yisroel, but settling there is not a mitzvah but rather a reward for conducting the war. He cites proof to this from the wording at the end of the Pasuk, “For to you I have given the land to conquer it (lareshes osah)”. He argues that if it would be a mitzvah to live there then the Pasuk would have said,” For to you I have given the land to live in it (lasheves bah.) “ 

Background.

The Gemara, Kesubos 110B relates,” Both a man and his wife are entitled to compel his/her spouse to relocate from chutz la’aretz to Eretz Yisroel if he/she so wishes. The same is true with regards to relocating from any city in Eretz Yisroel to Yerusholayim, that each spouse may be compelled to move there. Additionally, one should always preferably live in Eretz Yisroel even if living amongst Gentiles, than to live in chutz la’aretz and even if living amongst Jews. For anyone who lives in Eretz Yisroel it is as if he has a G-d, whereas anyone who lives in chutz la’aretz it is as if he has no G-d.”

Tosafos, d.h. Hu notes, “This does not apply nowadays as the journey to Eretz Yisroel is fraught with danger (sakanas derachim.) “Tosafos brings a second reason from Rabeinu Chaim that “There is no longer a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel nowadays because there are many mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz with penalties attached to them, and we are not able to be completely meticulous enough to fulfill them with all of their specific details.”

So Tosafos offers two views for why the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is no longer applicable. Firstly because of the dangers of the journey and secondly because of the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz which remarkably, are better to avoid than to attempt to fulfill. This is due to their complexity and to the penalties incurred by one who does not fulfill them in their entirety. At first glance it would seem that in modern times the first reason no longer applies as it is no longer unsafe to travel as it was in the days of old, whereas the second reason does still apply. But one important question to ask is was the second reason actually said by Tosafos??

Quite interestingly, the Maharit, Shailos Veteshuvos 2:28 takes strong issue with the view of Rabeinu Chaim cited in Tosafos that the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel no longer applies due to the mitvos hateluyos ba’aretz. He vehemently dismisses this and goes so far as to say that it is an error and that Tosafos themselves never actually said that! Rather a mistaken student (talmid to’eh) recorded this and negligently attributed it to the Balei Tosafos, hence it is not authentic and completely unreliable, despite the fact that it appears in our text. (It seems that this problem of misquoting/distorting the words of Poskim is not unique to our generation…) Maharit cites backing to this view from that which can be discovered upon a careful analysis of the words of the Mordechai , Kesubos 12: 313 who quotes Rabbeinu Chaim as saying that the reason the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel does not apply nowadays is solely because of sakanas derachim.  Mordechai makes no mention of the other reason that the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz are too difficult and detailed to perform. Hence Maharit relies on this inference as proof that the text of Tosafos, according to Mordechai, did not contain the clause of the difficulty of mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz. Rather only the first reason of sakanas derachim was in the original and authentic text of Tosafos. So the view of Maharit is clearly in line with the view of Ramban that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel certainly does apply nowadays. To take this further, according to Maharit it would seem that there would be no valid reason whatsoever for why the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel shouldn’t apply in our times. As the second reason of Tosafos is not authentic and the first reason of sakanas derachim is certainly irrelevant thanks to the advances of modern technology and transportation.  

For the Sake of the Mitzvos Hateluyos Ba’aretz.

 The Gemara, Bava Basra 91a teaches that one should not leave Eretz Yisroel to go to chutz la’aretz unless the situation for parnasa is unbearable. Rashbam explains that the reason for this is ‘shemafkia atzmo min hamitzvos’, that by leaving Eretz Yisroel one divests himself of the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz. Some argue that if Yishuv Eretz Yisroel would in fact be a mitzvah in and of itself and independently of the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz, then the Rashbam would have said simply the words ‘shemafkia atzmo min hamitzvah’ in the singular tense.  It would seem that Rashbam refers to numerous mitzvos and not just the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel as he chooses to use the plural form of mitzvos.  Rashbam would seem to hold that the primary basis for the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is precisely due to the numerous mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz which do not apply in any other locale. This view of Rasham is in stark contrast to the view of Rabbeinu Chaim  cited by Tosafos that the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz are a reason to refrain from moving to Eretz Yisroel. If the performance of the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz is the main reason for why one should not leave Eretz Yisroel in the first place, then certainly it would not be valid grounds to deter one from moving to Eretz Yisroel. Rashbam seems to hold the opposite of Rabeinu Chaim which is that exactly because of the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz one should not take leave of Eretz Yisroel unless absolutely necessary.

Similarly, the Gemara, Sotah 14a relates that Moshe Rabeinu wanted very much to go into the land of Eretz Yisroel in order to fulfill the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz. Some commentators argue similarly based on this that the Gemara does not say simply that Moshe Rabeinu wanted to go into the promised land to fulfill the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel, but in order to fulfill the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz. This would also seem to indicate that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is not a mitzvah in and of itself but rather a means of being able to perform the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz.   

The View of Rambam

What the opinion of Rambam on the topic of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is or is not, is a hotly contested issue amongst many of the great Poskim, some of which we will attempt to explore:

The Ramban, Mitzvah #4 in his work the Shic’chas Ha’asin (a work which enumerates the mitzvos which he contends that the Rambam ‘forgot’ to include in the Sefer Hamitzvos, hence the name Shic’chas Ha’asin- The Forgetting of the Mitzvos Asei) tells that although the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel was forgotten by the Rambam, it does not change with the times and certainly applies nowadays as well.

The reason why Chazal went so far so as to say that one who lives in chutz la’aretz it is as if he is an idol-worshipper who has no G-d, was in order to solidify the importance of this very vital mitzvah. Ramban brings several proofs likewise to this view that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is a mitzvas asei and in full effect nowadays. He cites the Sifri, Parshas Re’eh which mentions the following:  “There was an incident in which 5 great Tanaaim were traveling en route to chutz la’aretz.

 When they reached a certain point in their journey they remembered Eretz Yisroel, and became so distraught at having to leave the Promised Land that they began to cry tears and then proceeded to rend their garments. They exclaimed that we derive from the Pasuk of ‘And you shall live in it’ that the mitzvah of settling in the land of Eretz Yisroel is weighed as equal to all of the mitzvos in the Torah combined!”

It can be inferred from here that the Sifri does not say that the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz are weighed equal to all mitzvos in the Torah. Just the mitzvah of settling in Eretz Yisroel in and of itself, is weighed equal to all the mitzvos in the Torah. And so it certainly applies to each individual and during the times of exile as well. Ramban is quite emphatic about this and leaves no room for doubt that the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is still in full force today and does not change with the times. He does not even entertain the notion that either sakanas derachim or the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz would be possible grounds to theorize that the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel no longer applies. So we see that the Ramban in the Shic’chas Ha’asin, which appears in the back of the Sefer Hamitzvos of the Rambam, mentions the same opinion leshitaso that he mentions in Parshas Masei, that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is still in full force today and does not change with the times.

However, the Megilas Esther, (a commentary which defends the Rambam primarily against the attacks of the Ramban), argues that the Rambam did not forget but rather deliberately omitted the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel. As it was only applicable during the times of Moshe, Yehoshua, Dovid etc. that the Jewish nation was living securely in Eretz Yisroel. However once the Jewish people were driven into exile it no longer applies until the coming of Moshiach.  Furthermore, according to the Gemara, Kesubos 110a we are discouraged from using force to conquer the land until the time of Moshiach. He further contends that all of the praises mentioned by Chazal about the land of Eretz Yisroel only applies to the pre-exile era, not once we were driven into exile. Interestingly, the Megilas Esther also does not discuss the reasons of Tosafos , sakanas derachim or the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz.  He just simply stipulates that according to the view of Rambam the mitzvah   only applies during the era before we were driven out of the land.

So whereas the Ramban contends that the Rambam forgot to mention the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel altogether, the Megilas Esther justifies the Rambam’s omission by pointing out that it does not apply anymore in the times of exile until the coming of Moshiach.

This view of the Megilas Esther which maintains that the Rambam held that the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel no longer applies, is rejected by numerous commentators including Avnei Nezer, R’ Moshe Feinstien, Chazon Ish, and R’ Ovadaya Yosef amongst others.

The Chazon Ish, Mesechta Sheviis, Siman 24 d.h. Umevu’or states clearly that we are in fact obligated in the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel even in exile and nowadays as well. As backing for this he cites the words of the Rambam, Hilchos Melachim Chapter 5 which records the law of ‘compelling’ as being applicable even nowadays as well. The Chazon Ish clearly does not agree with Megilas Esther’s understanding of the Rambam, as he maintains that Rambam’s view is that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel still applies today. This view of the Chazon Ish can be found again in the Igros Chazon Ish, Part 1 Letter 175 leshitaso that the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is still in full force today as per the views of both Rambam and Ramban.

R’ Ovadaya Yosef, Yechaveh Daas 3:69 as well, dismisses the view of Megilas Esther completely. He point out that the Rambam, Hilchos Avadim,8:9 and again in Hilchos Ishus 13:20 record the laws of ‘compelling’ as being applicable nowadays as well. Meaning, that one is entitled to compel his/her spouse to relocate to Eretz Yisroel even today. Also the Rambam himself says so explicitly in the the Shailos Vetshuvos Harambam, Siman 180.

 Many commentators understand that if you hold of compelling then it follows that you hold of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel as well. However others feel that this is inconclusive since it could be that the law of compelling applies due to a variety of other reasons without Yishuv Eretz Yisroel being one of the 613. According to those who argue with the Megilas Esther and understand that the Rambam does hold that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel applies, the question would remain. If Rambam held of it then why is it that does not appear on the Rambam’s list of the 613 in his Sefer Hamitzvos?

The Tashabaitz, 3:288 cites the words of the Ramban that the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is certainly one of the 613 mitzvos and further expounds upon the greatness of living in Eretz Yisroel citing some of the incredible things that Chazal relate about living in Eretz Yisroel. He does not entertain the view that it does not apply nowadays.        

The Shailos Vetesuvos HaRashBash, Siman 1-3, the son of the Tashbaitz, sides with the view of the Tashbaitz and of Ramban that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is in full effect in our times and has not changed. He expounds upon the importance as well as the glory of settling in Eretz Yisroel. He mentions that those who do not hold that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is dioraysa would hold that is a mitzvah dirabanan and that the law of compelling is enforced based on the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel even though it is dirabanan. So we see that not all are convinced that the applied law of compelling alone would be sufficient evidence to prove that the origin of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is min Hatorah. So for example, Rashi who holds that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is not mentioned in the Pasuk as a mitzvah but rather as a reward, obviously held that despite the rabbinic origin of the mitzvah, it is still strong enough to legitimize the concept of compelling. According to this school of thought the mere fact that compelling is in effect is inconclusive to ascertain that it is a dioraysa. It seems that compelling can be triggered by a mitzvah dirabanan as well.  Nonetheless we see that many great Poskim did feel that it was conclusive, including the many commentators who argue that the Rambam holds that it is a dioraysa based on the fact that he holds of compelling. This is one point of debate in why there are differing views as to what the Rambam held to be the origin of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel. Some emphasize fact the Rambam omitted Yishuv Eretz Yisroel from his list of mitzvos dioraysa, wherea others stress the fact that he does rule that the laws of compelling apply nowadays as well.

The Pe’as Hasulchan, Hilchos Eretz Yisroel 2:20 suggests that the Rambam held that the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is only rabbinic in origin and therefore is not mentioned in the Sefer Hamitzvos which only lists mitzvos which are midioraysa.

Still others suggest that it is a mitzvah koleles since the goal of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is to be able to fulfill the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz. Meaning, many of the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz are already mentioned by the Rambam elsewhere and therefore it was not necessary to spell out the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel individually. Since after all, one must be in Eretz Yisroel in order to fulfill the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz. They hold that it goes without saying that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is still in full effect. 

Halacha

The Rosh, Kesubos 110 and the Tur, Even Ha’ezer 75 rule that the laws of ‘compelling’ still apply nowadays as well. Although they do not mention outright that the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel still applies nowadays, that is what their intended viewpoint is as explained by Perisha, E.H. 75 in his notes on the Tur. He also seems to agree to the afore-mentioned opinion that in order for something to be powerful enough to trigger the laws of compelling, the origin of it must be midioraysa

The Shulchan Aruch,Even Ha’ezer 75: 4-5 records the law that spouses have the right to compel one another to  live in Eretz Yisroel but is not machria (does not issue a decisive Halachic ruling favoring one view over the other) if the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel applies nowadays or not.

The Bais Shmuel notes that whether the mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel applies in modern times or not is dependent on the dispute between the afore-mentioned view in Tosafos that it does not, and the view of Ramban and other Rishonim that it does. However the Bais Shmuel  as well does not seem to be machria between the two differing views.

Interestingly the Be’er Haitaiv notes that since there is a great debate among the commentators as to whether this mitzvah still applies, to the point that many Halachic authorities who pasken clearly on other issues abstain from taking sides on this issue, he is also not quite machria whether it applies nowadays or not. Therefore, since it is unclear if it still applies, he rules that nowadays the concept of compelling would not be in full force. Meaning, that if the case were brought to a bais din, they would rule that one does not have the right to compel his/her spouse to relocate to Eretz Yisroel against his/her wishes.

However Pischai Teshuva, Even Ha’Ezer 75:6 clearly favors the view that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is in effect nowadays. He states that not only did the Maharit hold that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is a mitzvah midioraysa which applies nowadays but that this was also the opinion of the Nesivos Hamishpat as well as the vast majority of the Poskim. The mitzvah does not change with the times and most Poskim are unanimous that the mitzvah is still in full force in our era as well. Not only that but the law of compelling still applies now as well and one would in fact be entitled to compel his/her spouse to move to Eretz Yisroel. Pischai Teshuva notes that a pre-condition to one going to live in Eretz Yisroel is that he must be able to make parnasa there comfortably (berevach.)     (Just as the Terumas Hadeshen, Siman 88 tells that Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is a tremendous and lofty endeavor provided that one has parnasa when he gets there.)

He goes on to say that one who lacks parnasa after moving there this can cause one and his children to go against the will of G-d, to be maavir al daato v’al daas kono. Praiseworthy is one who reaches the exalted level of living off of the sweat of his brow and not being dependent on others for his livelihood. Furthermore those who travel there and must take handouts from charity, whereas if they would have stayed in chutz la’aretz they would be able to make parnasa, are not doing the proper thing. He cites the Gemara, Brachos 8a which relates,” Greater is one who reaps the benefit of the work of his hand, even more than one who is a G-d fearing individual. For about one who is a G-d-fearing individual it says only, “Ashrai  ish yarei es Hashem – Praiseworthy is he who has fear of G-d”.  Whereas about one who benefits from the work of his hand it says,” Yegia kapecha ki sochel ashrecha  ve’tov loch. He is praiseworthy and additionally it is good for him.”  The Pasuk is more verbose in its praise. More so the Gemara states, “Asei shivticha chol v’al titztareich labriyos – It is even preferable to have Shabbos like a weekday than to resort to receiving handouts from people.”

The Gra, E.H. 75:17 seems to hold that the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel applies today because of the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz. Furthermore, the law of compelling which applies nowadays only applies as far as that the husband can compel his wife to move to Eretz Yisroel. But a wife cannot compel her husband to move to Eretz Yisroel. The reason for this is that since the Temple is no longer standing only men are obligated in the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz. The view of the Gra is clear that the idea of compelling, as well as Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is in effect in order to fulfill the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz.

This idea is also mentioned in the Shailos Veteshuvos Bais Halevi, Part 2 in the very last paragraph, that the concept of compelling is still in effect as far as a wife being compelled to relocate by her husband, but not the reverse.

The Avnei Neizer Y.D. 454 discusses the topic of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel at length filling more than 8 pages of information on the topic. He rejects the claim of the Megilas Esther that the opinion of Rambam is that the mitzvah is no longer applicable. The Rambam counts other mitzvos that only apply in the times of the Temple and not today. So even if it didn’t apply anymore that would not be a valid reason to justify omitting it from the list. After all the list of 613 has plenty of mitzvos that are limited to the time of the Temple and yet are still mentioned. He also struggles to understand why it is that so many great Torah scholars throughout the ages did not move to Eretz Yisroel and explores several different possibilities. Along the same train of thought as the Pischai Teshuva, he also points out that the highest level of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is when one who lives in Eretz Yisroel also has his parnasa from Eretz Yisroel. Whereas one who lives in Eretz Yisroel and gets supported by generous benefactors in chutz la’aretz does get a mitzvah, it is nonetheless a secondary level of the performance of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel and not the ideal.  He also likens the concept of moving to Eretz Yisroel to putting on a four-cornered garment in order to become obligated in tzitzis. Similarly, one who moves to Eretz Yisroel becomes obligated in the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz. One who does not move to Eretz Yisroel without a valid reason is similar to one who refrains from putting on tzitzis. He also encourages everyone to move to Eretz Yisroel if they are able to. Although there is not an active mitzvah chiyuvis to move to Eretz Yisroel, one who does so gets a mitzvah kiyumis which is weighed as equal to all of the mitzvos in the Torah.

Furthermore, Avnei Nezer says that even those who live in chutz la’aretz can attain somewhat of a mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel by purchasing a parcel of land in Eretz Yisroel.                                                                                  

(Chasam Sofer Y.D. 234 also struggles to understand why many Gedolim throughout history did not move to Eretz Yisroel.)

See Iben Ezra, Vayishlach 33:19 who also mentions this idea and that one who has a chelek in Eretz Yisroel it is as if he owns a chelek in Olam Haba.

As far as visiting goes, the Shiltai Hagiborim, Shavuos, dafei Harif 8a cites the view of the Tashbaitz that one does not fulfill the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel by merely visiting temporarily.

 However see Mogain Avrohom, O.C. 248:15 who suggests that even if one goes to visit Eretz Yisroel temporarily then he gets some credit for performing the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel, just as one who walks four cubits in the land does.                    

The question whether there is currently a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel or not was posed to Harav Moshe Feinstien in the year 1952, mentioned in the Igros Moshe, Even Ha’Ezer 1:102 in the last paragraph of the teshuva. R’ Moshe writes as well that that it depends on this dispute in the Rishonim whether we hold like Ramban that there is, or like Rabeinu Chaim that there is not. R’ Moshe tells that most Poskim hold like the Ramban that there is in fact  a mitzvah nowadays as well. However it is not a mitzvah chiyuvis but rather a mitzvah kiyumis. For example, there is no requirement that one must wear tzitzis on his shirt. But if one goes ahead and dons a four-cornered garment, only then is he commanded to affix tzitzis to them and then he gets rewarded for performing a mitzvah kiyumis. This is the same analogy to what we mentioned previously from the Avnie Nezer. If Yishuv Eretz Yisroel were indeed a mitzvah chiyuvis and incumbent upon every Jew in exile to relocate to Eretz Yisroel, then it would be forbidden to live in chutz la’aretz at all and anyone who does so would be in violation of a mitzvas asei, just like one who dons a four-cornered garment and does not affix tzitzis to them.  R’ Moshe points out that the Rambam therefore chose his words carefully and did not say simply that it is prohibited to live in chutz la’aretz. Rather Rambam says that it is prohibited to leave Eretz Yisroel in order to live in chutz la’aretz, which implies that the issur to leave Eretz Yisroel only applies to the inhabitants of Eretz Yisroel. But if one is already living in chutz la’aretz then there is no issur in remaining there. R’ Moshe concludes the teshuva with pointing out that since it is not a mitzvah chiyuvis, the concern of Rabeinu Chaim that people will not be able to properly fulfill the many complex and detailed mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz, is certainly a valid concern and must be taken under consideration.  R’ Moshe does not pasken emphatically like the view of Rabeinu Chaim mentioned in Tosafos that the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel does not apply anymore because of the complex mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz. Rather he opines that the issue of the complex mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz raised by Rabeinu Chaim is a valid Halachic concern which needs to be taken under consideration. So on one end of the spectrum the Maharit tells that the view of Rabeinu Chaim is not authentic, a mistake, and completely unreliable. On the other end R’ Moshe tells that this view should be taken under consideration as a matter of practical Halacha. Interestingly,  although many commentators grapple with the opinion of the Maharit that the view of Rabeinu Chaim was a mistake in the text, it is  not even mentioned by R’ Moshe at all who maintains that the view of Rabeinu Chaim certainly is authentic to the point that should be taken under Halachic consideration.

R’ Shlomo Zalman Aurbach (Minchas Shlomo,Tinyana 100:10) first cites the view of the Gra that the purpose of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is in order to fulfill the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz. Furthermore, both reasons of Tosafos do not apply anymore in our times. Sakanas derachim is certainly irrelevant thanks to the advances of modern technology and transportation. And even the issue of the complex nature of the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz does not apply anymore, thanks to the current modern day infrastructure in Eretz Yisroel which enables us to fulfill the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz with much greater ease than in the days of old.

(Perhaps R’ Moshe Feinstien would have agreed to R’ Shlomo Zalman that the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz are much easier to fulfill in our times, and that therefore the concern of Rabeinu Chaim would not apply practically. Considering that the teshuva from Reb Moshe was dated in the year 1952 perhaps he would agree that the reality has changed since then, that the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz are much easier to fulfill in today’s age, and that the concern of Rabbein Chaim is no longer as relevant as it once was.)

The Gemara, Brachos 8a relates that based on the pasuk of, “In order that your days will be lengthened on the land which G-d swore to you” that R’ Yochanan wondered how could there be older people living in Babylonia? Since the Pasuk mentions the blessing of long life only on the land which G-d swore to give to the Jewish people, this would seem to exclude those who live in exile. Hence he wondered how those who live in chutz la’aretz could merit the reward of long life. However after they reported to him that in Babylonia people would rise early and stay late in the houses of study/prayer, he reasoned that that must be the cause for their reward of long life.

 Kelai Yakar, Devarim 11:21 questions this: What indication is there in the Pasuk that one can merit long life by frequenting the houses of study/prayer early in the morning and late at night? The Pasuk only mentions long life in the land of Eretz Yisroel, it does not seem to extend to those who live in exile and frequent the houses of prayer.

He answers that the Gemara, Megilah 29a relates that in the future all houses of prayer and study located in exile will be relocated to the land of Eretz Yisroel. Therefore, the ground of the house of study/prayer in exile has the status of Eretz Yisroel. So the ground there is considered a chelek of Eretz Yisroel since one day in the future it will become part of Eretz Yisroel.   

Conclusion                                                                                               

The Gemara, Gittin 8a tells that so vital is the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel, that in a case where one wishes to purchase a house in Eretz Yisroel from a non-Jew, he is even allowed to have the contract written up on Shabbos by a non-Jew if need be.

The issur of amira la’akum involves having a non- Jew do melacha for you on Shabbos. It is generally only waived by the rabanan in cases of extreme need such as for a sick person. Even when it is waived it is only in an instance where the non-Jew will be doing a melacha which is a issur dirabanan. However with regards to Yishuv Eretz Yisroel and due to its vital importance, the Sages waived the prohibition of amira la’akum on Shabbos even for an issur dioraysa, and permitted having the contract written up on Shabbos by a non-Jew.

This halacha is brought in the Mishna Berura, Hilchos Shabbos 306:47. Based on this, the Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa, Chapter 29, Footnote #18  relates that R’ Shlomo Zalman Aurbach ruled that it is permitted for one to go to look at a house in Eretz Yisroel belonging to a non-Jew even on Shabbos, to consider buying it. This is how vital it is to Chazal that Eretz Yisroel be settled with Jews, that they relaxed the issur of amira la’akum for the sake of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel.

The Gemara, Kesubos 112a tells that various Amoraim would display their love for Eretz Yisroel in different ways such as: R’ Aba would kiss the stones of Akko, R’ Chanina would fix the roads, R’ Chiya bar Gamda would roll in the dirt of Eretz Yisroel, etc.

May we all merit fulfilling the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel as well as all of the mitzvas hateluyos ba’aretz soon, together with Moshiach Tzidkainu speedily in our days, Amen

It is certainly not within the scope of this work, nor the intention of this publication to be machria on the topic of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel. This work is strictly informational and barely scratches the surface of the topic. For a final ruling, a Halachic authority should be consulted. [TLS]

Written by: Rabbi Binyomin Radner. For any comments or questions or to receive this article in PDF, please contact the author at benradner@gmail.com

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