Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Aliya - "A Midda Ha-Chasidus"

(Painting by David Avisar)

Rabbi Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel commenting on Aliya Forum:

In the previous posts there is a mixture of halachic and hashkofic viewpoints (amongst others as well). One can only consider these clearly if the halachic baseline is determined first.

The nature of the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel absent the Beis Mikdash is not a clear cut chiyuv. The earliest halachic (non-aggadic) reference is Ramban commenting on Bamidbar 33:53, which is the potential makor of the chiyuv. According to the Ramban, there is a chiyuv d’oraisa to pack up and move to Eretz Yisroel. However, later Rishonim and the Acharonim wrestle with the fact that the Rambam does not include this mitzvah in his enumeration of the 613 mitzvos.

Additionally, the Shulchan Aruch is mum on this issue. While the Mechaber paskens repeatedly that certain mizvos operate differently or apply differently in the Land, there is no actual statement that one must pack up and move there.

Many meforshim have tried to explain the omission in the Rambam. Some explain that yishuv Eretz Yisroel is only a hekhshar mitzvah (see Rashbam to Bava Basra 91a). Others explain that the mitzvah was abrogated with the destruction of the Beis Mikdash (see sefer Megillas Esther on the Rambam – I have several kashos on this deah, though). Then, of course, there is the aforementioned comment of the Tosafos to Kesubos 110b that there is no mitzvah due to the hardship associated with living in the land. Incidentally, this remark doesn’t actually state that there is no mitzvah, only that one is potur due to the hardship. In our days, however, we can legitimately question the applicability of this svora.

The le-maase question of whether one is obligated to pack up and move to Eretz Yisroel was the subject of Teshuvos from both Rav Moshe ztz”l (Igros Moshe, Even ha-Ezer I:102) and Rav Ovadia Yoseif, shlit”a (written in several places, and heard personally many times).

According to Rav Feinstein, the mitzvah of yishuv ha-aretz is a reshus, meaning that one is under no halachic obligation or pressure to make aliya. However, if one did, then he is praiseworthy and accredited a mitzvah. The understanding that there is no chiyuv of yishuv is found in many other Ashkenazi Acharonim: see Rav Yaakov of Lissa to Kesuvos 110b and the Chofetz Chayyim in his Mikhtavim. They both state the halacha is like the Rambam and that there is no chiyuv of yishuv in our days. Such appears to have been the interpretation of the majority of the Ashkenazi poskim.

Among the Sefardim, the poskim tended to read the Ramban literally and hold that the mitzvah of yishuv is a chiyuv. In the early 1980’s Rav Yosef became the strongest proponent of this interpretation and has argued strongly against Rav Moshe.

All in all, that is the halachic baseline: for the Ashkenzaim, according to the rov, yishuv is at best a mitzvah reshus and not a chiyuv ( Rav Kook ztvk”l was a minority in his view). For the Sephardim, it is a chiyuv.

Knowing this, I read Rav Breiter hy”d (of whom I am a BIG fan) as stating that, while there is no halachic chiyuv of yishuv, one must do everything possible to go. In this sense it is a midda ha-chasidus, potentially akin to donning Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin, or going daily to the mikva. Note that he says “Every day of your life, yearn, pray and make a practical effort to live in Eretz Yisroel, or at the very least to walk four steps there.” If we were talking halachic chiyuv, then there would be no “at least.” A chiyuv d’oraisa is a chiyuv (in all honesty, though there is wiggle room to say that concepts of lechatchila & b’dieved do exist by d’oraisa’s that are halachos le-moshe misinai – see the Pri Megadim’s hakdama to hilchos shechita, however here we are talking about a d’oraisa she nikhtav be-kra). One may legitimately say, though, that this midda ha-chassidus is stronger than that of wearing Rabbeinu Tam since it has a makor be-kra, but it is very hard to split hairs in this area.

Practically, then, it means that if your are one who holds of the Breslov shitta (which is Rav Breiter) then you should always endeavor and make it one’s goal to live there. However, since it is a midda ha-chasidus, mitigating factors will be much more influential in creating leniencies.


At July 29, 2008 at 7:50:00 AM EDT, Blogger Leora said...

Lovely painter. Thank you for the introduction to another talented artist.

(And the aliyah discussion is interesting, too).

At July 29, 2008 at 8:37:00 AM EDT, Blogger גילוי said...

It is well known that Yishuv HaAretz is one of the 7 (or 8, as I'ev seen elsewhere) mitzvot that are weighed against all other mitzvot.

Let's take one of those mitzvot which are equal to all others: Tzitzit. It is well known that a person does not, with modern clothing styles, need to fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzit ever. Yet we go out of our way to wear a tallit katan. Think about all the people that you look up to in Torah observance. They all go out of their way to be required to be obligated in this mitzvah, for every mitzvah is more precious than gold. The mitzvah of tzitzit is mentioned but twice in all of the chumash, in Parshat Shlach and Ki Tetzei, whereas the inyan of Eretz Yisrael as in far more places.

The Ramchal explains in Mesillat Yesharim that Midat HaChassidut is going beyond the regular requirements and determining what is pleasing to Hashem and then doing that action. He says that it is something that requires many cheshbonot, and not every bit of chassidut is a positive thing in all circumstances. I don't believe this applies to Yishuv HaAretz based on the halachot that are brought down; for example, the mishnayot at the end of Masechet Ketubot, as well as kibbud av v'em. Furthermore, this is a mitzvah / inyan that is mentioned in most (per pshat) / all (per sod) parshiyot of the Torah. The will of Hashem here is obvious. We do not require lengthy cheshbonot to arrive at what Hashem wants here, we do require lengthy cheshbonot, however, to do this properly. But our direction must be towards doing.

Kol tuv

At July 29, 2008 at 9:13:00 AM EDT, Anonymous R' Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel said...


These are all non-halachic statements.

I agree that we should all strive to live in the land. This is an ideal that we have.

However, practically, one may be lenient since there is no halachic chiyuv. Also, this means that one jew cannot cast aspersions upon nor criticize another for not wanting to make aliya due to practical considerations.

Also, as a midda ha-chassidus, this mitzva does have the kabbalos rabbim of Tzitzis in that the majority of Jews are out side E"Y. If a Majority was there in E"Y, then you would have Kabbalos rov and could legitimately say that the midda ha-chasidus (for ashkenazim) of living there was comparable to tzitzis.

At July 29, 2008 at 9:15:00 AM EDT, Anonymous R' Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel said...

Oops, again, left words out - meant to write that yishuv, as a midda ha-chasiduc DOES NOT hav kabbalos rov as does tzitzis.

At July 29, 2008 at 9:41:00 AM EDT, Blogger גילוי said...

Rav Bloomenstiel,

I don't think it is conducive to argue this as a halachic issue. You say that it is the Ashkenazi opinion that it is reshut. That itself has dissenting opinions, see chapter 5 part 2 of Kol HaTor for a treatment of the subject.

I am merely putting forth the treatment of the subject as part of our Avodah. It is absolutely obvious to anyone that pays attention Shabbos morning during kriah that Eretz Yisrael is a central inyan in Torah, and should be treated as such. There are certain de'ot that are proper according to Torah, and others that are not. Wanting to live in Eretz Yisrael is a proper de'ah. Unfortunately I encounted the other de'ah from people while spending shabbos with my late brother in Flatbush a few years back. Obviously we should all try to be mekayem any of these Torah de'ot that we have as well.


Post a Comment

<< Home