Shabbat Parashat Chukat| 5765
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - The Rabbi’s Responsibility to Educate for Aliyah- An Address to the Council of European Rabbis (5743) - Part I - Adapted from Harabbanut V’hamedina 121-125
Chazal tell us: “We attempt to strengthen only those who are already strong.” This statement has a double implication: one positive, one negative. On one hand, whoever does not strengthen himself cannot be strengthened by others, and the encouragement (chizuk) he receiveswill fall on deaf ears. However, for those who have strengthened themselves to the point that they can “swim against the tide,” chizuk works. The chizuk is also necessary, because “words of Torah need chizuk.” For this reason we in Israel are so happy to host the Conference of European Rabbis. The choice to hold the conference here illustrates the connection of the rabbis of Diaspora communities to Eretz Yisrael. The rabbinate and Eretz Yisrael are fundamentally linked concepts. Genuine semicha (which we no longer have) could be bestowed only in Eretz Yisrael. Upon receiving semicha, the rabbi could use it in chutz la’aretz, but its source was in Eretz Yisrael. The Torah’s dependency on Eretz Yisrael is such that without it, there is no existence of Torah, of Torah authority, of Torah rulings. All these things must emanate from this holy place. So we will use our limited capabilities to try to give chizuk aswell as we can, as you desire.
In a previous conference, Rav Jacobowitz spoke about the difference between the counting of days and weeks, which is done by the whole Jewish people, and the counting of the 50 years of yovel (the Jubilee Year), which is done only by beit din (the Rabbinical Court). All are expected to plan for the immediate future. However, it is the specific responsibility of spiritual leadership to look decades ahead to properly plan for the national future.
Let me add on to that, with the element of Eretz Yisrael’s connection to yovel. Shemitta and yovel apply only in Eretz Yisrael. The proclamation made during yovel, which our present-day rabbis must adopt in order to be fully successful, is this. “During this yovel year, each man shall return to his land of inheritance” (Vayikra 25:13). If you want to consider “who will be a Jew in another ten years,” as R. Jacobowitz discussed then, the answer must include directing communities to move to Israel, the true Land of Our Inheritance. I do not mean that all who are rooted in the Diaspora will uproot themselves and come here. That will be Mashiach’s job, as the Rambam says that he will gather the dispersed of Israel. As successful as we may be in bringing Jews here before Mashiach appears, he will have work to do. But we should make a strong effort to direct Jews to Israel. This is particularly fruitful regarding youth, who are still in the midst of receiving their education. Many can and should receive their education here, enabling them to breathe in the special atmosphere of Eretz Yisraeland make plans to build their futures here.
This is an important prospect for both the Israeli and Diaspora communities. We are in the midst of internal and external struggles, including the demographic issue. You saw the flowering communities in what the world calls “over the Green Line.” The great majority of these communities are comprised of seriously Torah-oriented people, including those who uprooted themselves from existing yeshivot to form new ones in these places. While this helps, we cannot build Eretz Yisrael sufficiently by moving Jews from one place to another. Imagine if another million Jews moved to Israel. We wouldn’t have any problems. Certainly [ed. note- at that time], only religious Jews, who are drawn to Eretz Yisrael, could come in big numbers, as things stand. Despite the problems that exist here, to the extent that we will be successful in bringing those who should be living in Israel, we will be successful in moving things in a positive direction. Then our human efforts will merit us a response of disproportionate Divine assistance.
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