Wednesday, October 27, 2004

HaRav Hershel Schacter on the Mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael



Go on, read it here – and then make Aliyah!

Some excerpts:

In view of the difficulties inherent in the approach of the Megillat Esther, most Acharonim conclude that Yishuv Eretz Yisrael constitutes a mitzvah according to both Ramban and Rambam.

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In Baba Bathra the Gemara lists poverty as grounds for exemption from the mitzvah. One who cannot make a comfortable living in Israel is not required to live there in penury. This rationale is cited by the Pitchei Teshuva and many other Poskim, including Rabbi Shlomo Kluger and the S'dei Chemed. In fact, as we shall see, the Avnei Nezer builds upon it his elaborate responsum explaining why Yishuv HaArtez was often neglected by Jewish leaders. It must be stressed, however, that a comfortable life in Israel does not mean a life with every luxury available in the Diaspora. Even if one's standard of living drops in Israel, it is not grounds for exemption unless the new style of life is indeed intolerable.

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The Yerushalmi offers a novel interpretation of a law cited in Masechet Gittin. The Gamara in Gittin permits asking a non­Jew on the Sabbath to write and sign the document necessary to purchase a house in Israel from its non-Jewish owner. Commentators speculate what precisely was the mitzvah involved which made possible the suspension of the rabbinic prohibition of Amirah LeNachri, (asking a Gentile to do work on Sabbath). The Tashbets suggests that it is Yishuv Eretz Yisrael, settling in the land, that takes precedence over Amira LeNachri. The Ramban and Rivash, however, suggest that it is the mitzvah of Kibush Eretz Yisrael, conquering it, that carries the day. The Ramban writes that since Kibush HaAretz is incumbent upon Klal Yisrael (the Jewish people) as a whole, it is classified as a Mitzvah D'Rabim (of the many) and, unlike ordinary mitzvot, a mitzvah D'Rabim is of a higher priority than the prohibition of Amira LeNachri.

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