Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim| 5763
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l
Financial Sacrifice to live in Eretz Israel - Part I - Based on Eretz Hemdah I, I, 7
The first question we should deal with is whether one should subject himself and/or his family to poverty and dependency on tzedakah in order to live in Eretz Yisrael. The Maharit II, 28 rules that one who will be unable to support his wife and children if he moves to Eretz Yisrael should not go there. This is based on a gemara (Gittin 6b) which criticizes those who went to Eretz Yisrael to learn, and as a result, exposed their children to difficult conditions in order to survive. One can deflect this proof based on another position of the Maharit himself, namely, that only one who goes to Eretz Yisrael in order to live there permanently fulfills the mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael. Thus, the Torah students who left their families behind and planned to return were not even fulfilling the mitzva, in which case they had insufficient justification to compromise their families’ welfare. Perhaps, if they would have fulfilled the mitzva, it would have been proper.
There are additional sources which indicate that one shouldn’t go to Eretz Yisrael if it will cause him to be dependent on charity. The M’eel Tzedakah says that it is against the Rabbinic dictum that one who supports himself “from the toil of his hands” is to be lauded and that one should not spend too much money on enhancing Shabbat if it will cause him to be dependent on others. The Rashbash also says that one is not required to move to Eretz Yisrael if he doesn’t have an expected source of income there.
The Avnei Nezer (454) questions whether it is clear that fear of poverty exempts one from the great mitzva to live in Eretz Yisrael which, Chazal tell us, is equivalent to all the mitzvot of the Torah combined. There does, though, appear to be a clear proof to the position of the M’eel Tzedakah and Rashbash from the gemara, codified in the Rambam (Melachim 5:9). The gemara states that when the economic situation reaches a point where money is scarce and a person does not have the ability to earn, he can move to wherever he can find a living.
However, if we understand the Rashbash properly, we can accept the Avnei Nezer’s contention that one needs to make greater financial sacrifices for living in Eretz Yisrael than for other mitzvot. The Rashbash posits that when one is not able to live in Eretz Yisrael normally, which includes having a place to live and the ability to earn money for basic needs, he does not fulfill the mitzva of living there. We can argue that if one will be able to survive reasonably in Eretz Yisrael but will have to make a more significant financial sacrifice than is required by other mitzvot, he is required to do so.
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