Monday, July 28, 2008

"Let's Be Honest, Most Of The Heterim Have Fallen Away"

(Painting by Jordana Klein)

Akiva commenting on Aliya Forum:

I did not say one should not plan and prepare, or leap blindly. However, a mitzvah is being ignored, unless one has taken upon themselves the position poskined by the Satmar Rov, that there is no mitzvah of yishuva ha'aretz at this time (without the coming of Moshiach). If one holds such, then just like there is no mitzvah of shemitta outside of Israel, there is no mitzvah of settling the land.

Assuming one is not Satmar, one is relying upon the various heterim that one is not obligated to settle the land due to: danger (not valid in our time, life expectancy in Israel is HIGHER than in the US, including terrorism and army service), famine (not valid for most Americans with some reasonably employable skill, but qualifies for some who have no employable skills), Torah (no longer valid as nowadays almost everyone comes TO Israel to learn), or to find a spouse (and since everyone is in Israel learning, they often find their spouse here).

No, I'm not trying to poskin for the world, and one should always consult one's rav or an appropriate halachic authority. But given current conditions, lets be honest, most of the heterim have fallen away. People aren't coming simply because it's hard, and it's foreign. It is!

But does that negate the mitzvah? In previous generations it was life threatening, barely survivable, or literally impossible. Now it's just really really inconvenient and a seriously huge change, at least for most people (there are lots of really good exceptions - children with special needs, health care problems, and others).

If for whatever reason you can't do it today, for most, you should be planning and preparing, targeting doing it. Otherwise, you're ignoring a mitzvah asay, and I thought we didn't do that!

I know I'm being harsh. And I know there's no major rabbonim standing up about this. But seems to me Ezra HaSofer had the same problem.

The great community of Alexandria, with the shul that fit 600,000 Jews is gone. The great community of Bavel wrote the Talmud, but it's also gone. The great community of America, that nutured and allowed the Jewish people to restore their lives and rebuild Torah and their souls after the Holocaust will one day be gone as well.

14 Comments:

At July 28, 2008 at 2:31:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Michoel said...

While I agree that life expectancy is a very poor argument to stay in Chul, I think Akiva's framing of the question is somewhat telling. The comparison (if one is to be made) should be between frum Jews in America and Frum Jews in EY, and I highly doubt there is much difference. A friend from EY was a guest by us a few weeks ago. He told me that I should change my door because it was unsafe in my heavily black neighborhood. Bli ayin hara, I often leave my windows open at night. I didn't tell him that because he seemed to feel really good telling me that I was living in an unsafe area unlike him. Why should I spoil his fun?

The great community of Bavel is not "gone". It became the great community of the Rhine Valley, which became the great community of Poland, Rumania, Russia and Lita. And it produced a VERY GREAT number of tzaddikim and talmidei chachamim.

 
At July 28, 2008 at 4:41:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Moses said...

Akiva: There's one point that continues to be missed: No one will make alia because of halachik reasons. In order to make alia one has to be on fire about E'Y, and one has to be ashamed of living in chu'l because it's a chillul Hashem, as it sais in Yirmeyahu. Just like no one gets married because it sais so in the Shulchan Aruch, you understand...

Halachic reasoning can help guide a person to overcome his doubts that alia is indeed the right thing, but unless one is on fire, there will be no end to excuses...

 
At July 28, 2008 at 4:47:00 PM EDT, Anonymous R' Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel said...

Akiv's characterization of the halacha is inaccurate. For centuries, the Ashkenazi poskim have held that there is no chiyuv of living in the land. At best, see Rav Moshe, Igros Moshe, Even ho-ezer I:102, that yishuv is a mitzva reshus, not a chiyuv. This interpretation is based upon the Rambam who does not include yishuv ha-Aretz as a mitzvah and has nothing to do with the opinion of the Satmar Rov or that of R' Chaim Kohen quotes in Tosafos to Kesuvos 110a (who cites hardship as the reason for a heter). The Chofetz Chayim, Rav Yaakov of Lissa, and many many others have stated that, intrinsically, there is no chiyuv of Yishuv bizman hazeh.

The Sefardi Poskim, on the other hand, hold like the Ramban that yishuv is a mitzvas aseh and a chiyuv. Meaning: you have to pack up and go. The strongest proponent of this shitto in recent years has been Rav Ovadia Yoseif, shlita.

Thus, if one is Ashkenazi, they are not neglecting any mitzva by deciding to dwell outside of the Land. True, yishuv is an ideal and, according to Rav Moshe, one received sechar, but there is no positive requirement for one to make aliya.

 
At July 28, 2008 at 6:57:00 PM EDT, OpenID bahaltener said...

Akiva: There is a machloykes rishoynim wheither there is a mitzvo or not. Most poyskim hold thus, that it remains unresolved - i.e. a sofek, and not clear cut situation.

 
At July 28, 2008 at 7:00:00 PM EDT, OpenID bahaltener said...

Akiva: The fear of community being gone shouldn't be a drive for that. Any selfish motive in moving to Eretz Yisroel IS THE REAL obstacle for doing it.

 
At July 28, 2008 at 7:05:00 PM EDT, OpenID bahaltener said...

one has to be ashamed of living in chu'l because it's a chillul Hashem

And where did you find this? Chilul Hashem is irrelevant to the time and space and can be as well represented in the very living in Eretz Yisroel in an inappropriate way.

 
At July 29, 2008 at 5:39:00 AM EDT, Blogger Akiva said...

...and so said the generation of Ezra HaSofer.

I believe the Rambam also wrote that there are no mitzvot outside of Eretz Yisroel, and they are only practiced there to stay in the pattern. He also wrote of himself as a sinner for living in Mitzrayim. (But didn't encourage his community to leave either - though I don't know from the historical circumstances if it was feasible in his time.)

Michoel - of course the great communities are gone, their shul's, their yeshivot, all gone. The majority of the residents did not make it as the transition to the new Jewish center occurred. Further, except for Bavel, the Torah - the seforim of most of those communities was lost as well. (As we see from numerous references in seforim we do have to seforim that no longer exist.) You'll probably come back with notes about 1 great sefer from each community, and that's correct. Of all their Torah, each community was pretty much limited to 1 surviving sefer.

Moses - Sadly, I agree.

R. Blumenstiel - So wrote Rav Techteil (may Hashem avenge his blood) in Eim HaBanim Semechah, and then he spent the whole sefer refuting it. Given all of the mitzvah's of Eretz Yisroel, the tefilah references, and the literal statements of kedushat haaretz and the relationship between the Jewish people and the Land, I find it odd that people would work so hard to refute it. When conditions were such that it was a life risk, it's understandable to back away. Things have changed, and that must be taken into account.

Regarding the sephardi vs. ashkenazi position, I'm astounded. It's one thing to say there's differences of opinion on minhagim (Pesach kitniyot for example), or script (in tefillin or mezuzot) or particular standards of shechita. It's another to say, for example, "sephardim say tefillin is a mitzvah, ashkenazim say it's a middas chassidas." Wow.

Bahaltener - My point was not one of fear, rather one of learning from history. There's a reason our investments in chutz la'aretz are considered temporary.

 
At July 29, 2008 at 5:53:00 AM EDT, Blogger גילוי said...

bahaltener:

"one has to be ashamed of living in chu'l because it's a chillul Hashem

And where did you find this? Chilul Hashem is irrelevant to the time and space and can be as well represented in the very living in Eretz Yisroel in an inappropriate way."

It is explicit in Yehezkel 36, in the parsha from pasuk 16 onwards.

Yehezkel is surely talks about the chillul Hashem of aveirot, he mentions shabbos quite a bit. But this in particular is shayach even to a frum yid in chutz la'aretz.

 
At July 29, 2008 at 6:07:00 AM EDT, Anonymous moses said...

behaltener: OOOOOOOYYYYYY! Do I have to explain this? When a simple GOY sees you walking around in Brooklyn he sais to himself "wait a minute, it sais in the Bible that G-d gave the land of Israel to them jews, so what the h**l are they doing here? What, they're not rushing to come to their G-d given homeland?" And a GOY, with his goyishe kop doesn't understand Rabbi Blumenstiel's sophysticated halachik reasoning... And although we may not give a thing about what a goy thinks, apparently G-d does, as it sais in Yechezkel 36:20: "They have dececrated my holy name when it was said of them, these are the people of Hashem, and they went out of His land."

And about living in E'Y in an inappropriate way... of course it's a chillul Hashem and a terrible thing, but we're talking about coming and LIVING HERE IN AN APPROPRIATE WAY...

 
At July 29, 2008 at 6:49:00 AM EDT, Anonymous moses said...

behaltener, forgive my tone, I got over excited here. But do consider what I said please...

 
At July 29, 2008 at 9:04:00 AM EDT, Anonymous R' Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel said...

Akiva & Moses -

1) Rav Techtal hy"d was in the minority. I can having actually read pretty much everything written about this.

2) Asheknazim and Sefardim absolutely GREATLY in numerous areas of halacha and several understanding of what is d'oraisa and what is not. This is no secret - this is fundmental knowledge.

3) No one is "working hard to refute this." There is no twisting or looking for heterim, and times changing are irrelevant. In alleging this, you demonstrate that you have not actually research the halacha; merely read a few writing plucked from here and there. You are misrepresenting established halachic practice. There is INTRINSICALLY no chiyuv to live in the land; this is the position of the majority of the Ashkenazim. Has nothing to do with heterim. According to them you don't need a heter because there is NO CHIYUV.

4) Practically, one should absolutely live in E"Y. This is an ideal we have as a people. However, being that it is non-halachic and a midda ha-Chassidus, this means that no one Jew can criticize another for not having made aliya.

5) 99% of the statements in the seforim about the gadlus of the mitzva of yishuv are essentially aggadic statements. Their emphasis is in the realm of midda ha-chassidus, not halacha.

 
At July 29, 2008 at 9:07:00 AM EDT, Anonymous R' Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel said...

Parts of my comment got cut off for some reason:

1) should read "I can say that having actually read..."

2) Meant to say that the sephardim and ashkenazim absolutely differ greatly....

 
At July 29, 2008 at 7:26:00 PM EDT, Anonymous In the Meantime in Golus said...

I would love to be a religious zionist -- but the zionists who run the country won't let me!

 
At July 29, 2008 at 8:49:00 PM EDT, Anonymous R' Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel said...

Ha! Grandly subtextual humor on soooooo many levels....

Yasher Koach!

 

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