Shabbat Parashat Ki Tetzei| 5765
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - The Mitzva to Live in Eretz Israel - Part VIII - The Rambam’s Opinion (III) - Condensed from Eretz Hemdah I,1: 4,5
[We saw last time Rav Yisraeli’s understanding of the Rambam’ s approach to the mitzva to inhabit Eretz Yisrael. Performing the mitzva by conquest applied only in the first entry to the Land. Subsequently, the mitzva to inhabit took place with permission from the nation(s) that controlled the Land, thereby satisfying the oath prohibiting entering Eretz Yisrael by force. We will now explain the machloket between R. Yehuda and R. Zeira in Ketubot 110b. The former tried to stop the latter from moving to Eretz Yisrael based on halachic grounds.]
The gemara initially bases R. Yehuda’s opinions on the pasuk inYirmiya (27:22): “They shall be brought to Bavel, and they will be there under the day I redeem them.” Yet the gemara seems to conclude that his source was the oath administered to Bnei Yisrael that they would not go up to Eretz Yisrael by force. There is a practical difference between the two sources. The pasuk in Yirmiya refers only to aliya from Bavel, whereas the oath applies to forceful immigration from anywhere. If the pasuk is to be broadly applied to all lands outside Eretz Yisrael, then how can the Rambam bring the halacha that one can force a spouse to move to Eretz Yisrael, as, according to several commentators, the Rambam rules like R. Yehuda?
To explain the Rambam, we will first introduce the Avnei Nezer’s approach. The Avnei Nezer, who says that according to the Rambam there is a Torah commandment to inhabit Eretz Yisrael, is bothered by the fact that many righteous people did not move to Eretz Yisrael even in times in history when such a move was possible. He explained as follows. If all of the Jewish people were to move to Eretz Yisrael in one time period, then that would be considered an aliya by force. Since it is forbidden for everyone to do so, it is a sign that even individuals are not required, because if they were, how could we decide who should go and who should not?
One can ask on this ostensibly logical premise as follows. It is theoretically possible for all Jews to move to Eretz Yisrael in a peaceful, non-forceful manner. It is only practically unlikely that the sovereign entity in Eretz Yisrael would allow such a thing. Thus, the mitzva applies to all and as long as the situation that precludes the individual from going there does not arise, each individual who can do so is obligated. Only if and when the sovereign power objects is the individual exempt.
Despite the apparent flaw in the Avnei Nezer’s thesis, his idea to connect the mitzva of the individual and the masses is well taken. We can explain the Rambam’s version of R. Yehuda as follows. The oath was said just to prevent the masses from making aliya, perhaps even with permission. But there could not be a mitzva on every individual when at the same time, the masses were forbidden by design (even with permission and not just technically) from moving to Eretz Yisrael,. Thus, R. Yehuda reasoned that there was no mitzva, and that which the mishna talks of a spouse forcing his or her spouse to move to Eretz Yisrael is not because of the obligation, but it is a rabbinical institution to encourage some inhabitation of the Land.
Can R. Yehuda’s position co-exist with the position [we brought last week] that the final return to Eretz Yisrael will precede Mashiach’s arrival? After all, it should be forbidden to return to Eretz Yisrael, even with permission, according to him? The positions need not be contradictory. Permission is insufficient only when the nations maintain their subjugation of Bnei Yisrael vis a vis Eretz Yisrael and allow them to come only as a mass of individuals. However, if they allow Bnei Yisrael to come as a nation and establish a national entity, then there is no violation of the oaths. To the contrary, such a situation is the beginning of the redemption.
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